Now that you have completed your degree or CiPD, the search begins for your first graduate HR role. COVID-19 has an obvious impact on the HR industry, for graduates and for more experienced professionals.
Unfortunately, we have seen a significant decrease in the number of live vacancies and available roles have very specific requirements. This will make the task of searching for an entry-level role that bit more difficult but remember this too shall pass and there are still opportunities.
We have to remain and focus on the positive needs that will arise in the coming weeks and months. It is important to keep your finger on the pulse, be prepared, open to alternative pathways and don’t miss out on opportunities.
In general, regardless of the COVID pandemic, your first role is often the trickiest to obtain as clients have specific expectations. Given this, I wanted to share some advice points to help you as you start your career in HR.
Finding the right entry-level HR jobs
Once you complete your qualification you will need to decide what areas of HR you are interested in or open to. Typical HR jobs for graduates include:
General HR Administrator
To choose the right opportunity for you, you need to establish what you are interested in. If you enjoyed Recruitment or L&D modules while studying these could be ideal roles for you to target. It would be the perfect kick start to your desired specialism and a good HR career path.
Outside of this, any of these entry-level roles will give you a step in the right direction and help you break into the HR market. The option is always there for you to diversify back to general HR.
All and any experience at this early stage is invaluable to grow your profile. If you are unsure and feel the general HR admin is the best path for you then focus your search on these roles.
They will give you a good understanding of all facets of HR and help establish what areas interest you.
Resilience and patience are key
Any job search can be tedious. You might find yourself applying for job after job with little success or response. It is important not to be disheartened by this. Just because you may not be right for one role does not exclude you for others.
Set up job alerts on all job boards so you don’t miss out on any good opportunities. Invest time into reviewing the jobs you are applying for and make sure you understand the role and its requirements. It is vital to stay resilient and active in your job hunt.
Recruitment agencies often focus on more experienced vacancies but there are recruiters who specialise in more junior and mid-level roles. Reach out to recruiters who specialise in HR to help, work with them and a good recruiter will keep you in mind for any suitable opportunities.
Graduate CV advice
It is essential that you spend time on your CV. It needs to be professional and effective. If you have past work experience in HR, perhaps from a college placement, or even in general admin, this is key and will make you stand out from the crowd.
Be clear and concise about your day to day responsibilities and make sure you are getting the relevant points across. These should include:
Areas within HR you gained exposure to
Projects you assisted with or worked on
HR systems and general systems you have experience using
These are the type of things employers are looking for when reviewing a graduate CV. If your experience is not HR specific it is still important to put the time and effort into your CV to best display your skills and abilities.
Your profile synopsis at the start of your CV, while brief, will be important for an employer to grasp why HR is your career of choice and what makes you the right candidate for their organisation.
Also pay close attention to formatting, grammar and spelling. Similarly, put work into your LinkedIn profile and ensure your profile is “open to opportunities”. If not, this can be a missed opportunity. When employers or recruiters are searching for candidates Linkedin can often be the first “go-to”.
Consider HR Internships
While I appreciate there may be a limited number on offer due to the COVID-19 crisis, considering an internship could be a good option. Internships can help you to gain some office-based experience which will strengthen your CV and professional profile.
While internships are usually short term, or sometimes part-time, they can lead to longer-term opportunities. They are also a good way to build your professional network which may be useful down the line in your career.
Be flexible and open-minded
I would always try to encourage flexibility with your first role. Consider contracts as well as permanent opportunities. Contract or temp jobs can really open up your opportunities and are a great way to “try before you buy” and establish if it is the right company and role for you.
If you can, flexibility on salary can also be helpful.HR graduate opportunities can typically range anywhere from €24K to €35K on the market. If you can keep an open mind on salary starting off it can lead to greater opportunities down the line. The moral of the story is that sometimes the best-paid jobs are not always the best jobs. For more details on HR salaries, you can download our HR Salary Guide.
Invest time into interview preparation
Once you’ve updated your CV and LinkedIn and found yourself some suitable roles to apply for it’s vital to properly prepare for interviews. Research the company, understand what they are looking for, know your own CV and be able to confidently and clearly articulate your skills and knowledge.
Always have examples prepared to demonstrate your abilities and competencies and prepare good questions for you to ask at interview to really show your enthusiasm and interest.
It’s a tricky time to look for a graduate or entry-level role but there are some opportunities and I’d again really highlight the need for flexibility. You never where one role could lead you.