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How to change to career in HR?

(14 Posts)
westlake Sun 09-Jan-11 18:34:30

Posted in education, was advised to repost here :-)

I am a Management Accountant by trade and have a degree in business and am a passed finalist at CIMA.
In my studies I have always enjoyed the people side and the HR modules and am considering a career change. It's a good time for me as I am a SAHM at the moment but have the time to study in preparation for going back to work.
I have had a quick look but am getting very confused about what i would need to study, specific career options etc
Is there anyone out there who can tell me if this would be an easy transition, where my current qualifications would help with further study etc or anywhere useful online to start?


sandripples Sun 09-Jan-11 18:54:06

Hi Westlake,

I'm an HR Business Partner so hope I can offer some thoughts. I think you'd be in a good position to move into HR as it would be great to have the accountancy background you describe - very strong combination. I think over time it could lead you to manage resourcing departments rather than just HR, if you wished.

You need to consider what sort of HR appeals to you eg Organisation Development, Training, Employment Relations, Reward, Strategy. The typical routes into these involve getting the CIPD qualifications - have you looked at their web-site

You can study full or part-time and (in my experience) it is not too academically demanding but you do have to put effort into certain topics. You also get opportunities to practise relevant skills and this would be useful if you haven't done much as yet (eg interviewing, giving presentations etc)

The Diploma courses are quite widely available.

other routes could be an MA - you'd have to see what's available in your area, although I think some moduales/quals are available by distance learning. There are MAs which focus on particular areas of HR so as mentioned above, you need to know what interests you. Some MBAs also give an option to focus on HR.

Many HR departments are divided into the following areas;
Payroll and administration
Reward and HR Strategy
Business Partners

I think you'll find career advice on the web-site I've given - ther's certainly a lot of recent activity in the HR press about career maps and routes. The CIPD is based in Wimbledon if you're anywhere near there - you could ask to see someone.

westlake Sun 09-Jan-11 19:54:14

it's good to know that my previous experience wouldn't be wasted, and i can see how it might be useful now that you mention it.

Thank you for your help, it's food for thought!

flowery Sun 09-Jan-11 21:57:45

Good post by sandripples. You need to get qualified, look into CIPD qualifications as sandripples says.

It's been an awful long time since I did mine [old and haggard emoticon], when it was still called the IPD, so lots may have changed. I know back then people who had done related studies were able to skip sections of the qualification requirements - I think they did tighten up on that but it may still apply to an extent, so your previous study may enable you to bypass some of the more general management stuff.

I know you are a SAHM at present, but I highly recommend studying part time while working at the same time. Most people need to anyway but doing your CIPD while in a work environment is a lot easier as you can see how all the theory stuff relates to your working environment and can do case studies/coursework based on your working environment.

Obviously the ideal is to it while working in an HR department. I was a Personnel Assistant <<feels old>> when I did mine so had access to how HR worked in 'real life' in my organisation and could relate it to my studies.

I think doing the qualification is essential <<awaits barrage of people telling me they didn't do it>> because it gives you a much broader range of knowledge than pure work experience can ever give you. Doing mine gave me a basic grounding in all sorts of areas I was never going to encounter in the job I was in, meaning I was well-placed to feel confident in my ability to deal with new areas I encountered through my career.

HR varies hugely depending on the type and size of organisation you are in. In my view experience as a 'normal' non-HR person in a working environment is also invaluable. I found out after the event that the MD of one of the jobs I had said I tipped the balance and got the job because I'd previously worked as a retail manager, therefore wasn't just all about HR but had general management experience dealing with 'real life'.

KatieMiddleton Mon 10-Jan-11 01:41:29

Hi, I'm currently studying for a CIPD accredited masters degree. My previous experience was financial services management, including change management and some HR responsibility.

I'm looking to go back to work f/t when I qualify and my interests are employment law and strategic HR. My course is good because it combines practical work with theory but I'm disappointed in my class mates, the majority of whom I would not trust to open the post nevermind head up an HR function. The p/t, working students are much more the kind of people i was expecting to meet. So that might be something to consider.

I did a lot of research before choosing this route so if you'd like to chat about it please feel free to PM me.

KatieMiddleton Mon 10-Jan-11 01:45:16

I forgot to mention that the chances to move into HR without CIPD qualifications is practically zero. I tried that first. Even entry level jobs were going to candidates with CIPD qualifications. Qualifications that cost at least £6,000 to do a job that pays £13,000 after tax and ni deductions. Crazy!

StillSquiffy Mon 10-Jan-11 09:36:45

Everything that katemiddleton says.

I recently completed MSc and am now all qual'd up (after 20 years in the City) and now work in change mgmt where CIPD qual is the USP that gets me into lots of really good roles. Have also found that employers really love the combination of finance career and demonstrable passion for people. It really sets you above others you compete with.

Saying that, two drawbacks: one is that HR salaries are really low until you get to Board level, so you may want to do something that utilises the qual, rather than havign a complete career change (unless money isn't an issue). Other drawback is as KM says, some of the people you study with will make you want to scream - most of them have no employment experience at all - they are straight on from undergrad. Used to make my blood boil when they used to start takign notes in seminars when I and the other oldies ever opened our mouths.

hermioneweasley Mon 10-Jan-11 20:43:32

Hi westlake

I am and HR director and can't recommend CIPD - doesn't prepare you for anything practical. I would try to get some HR experience in your current company. once you have some HR experience, with your CIMA background, you will be really marketable. Good luck!

westlake Mon 10-Jan-11 20:56:53

thanks to everyone who has responded, I really appreciate all of the advice.

hermioneweasley, i'm not employed at the moment. I was considering asking for work experience - would consider unpaid of local companies to get a foot in the door. Do you think this is feasible rather than just applying for jobs already advertised? I'm not sure how me ringing up the head of HR and explaining that i want to get into HR and would like some work experience, would be received. I was confident at doing this as a school leaver but not sure this is the most appropriate way as an adult. Are speculative letters/cv ever read and considered?
I would like to be proactive if I can....

I am seriously considering this as a career change, but would like another baby first. I am just aware that perhaps there are things i can be doing now whilst at home with the little one(s) that can stand me in good stead for when i am ready to go back to work. This might be study or short term employment/work experience. I hate standing still, silly really as I should be enjoying being a mum for a bit and worrying about work in a couple years......

great advice ladies! smile

BarkisIsWilling Mon 10-Jan-11 21:49:53

Hi Westlake, I'd recommend you look on the website for voluntary HR-related roles you might be able to undertake while still a SAHM (and TTC). This might well give you an edge when applying for a postgrad HR course, where having relevant experience could make you more admissible. Also, you might well get a feel of which area you're more inclined towards or not.

Good luck!

flowery Mon 10-Jan-11 21:52:57

Where are you based westlake?

westlake Mon 10-Jan-11 22:38:49

I had thought about charity work only this morning, I think that is definitely worth looking into.

I'm in Lincoln flowery, from my initial research it seems like there are plenty of opportunities around, mainly in recruitment although i'm not sure that's exactly what i'm looking for (i've no idea to be honest at this stage).

KatieMiddleton Tue 11-Jan-11 02:10:19

Just a warning - as part of my course I have to undertake some practical work experience with a host organisation. I already do charity work but it has still been a struggle to get a foot in the door even with my contacts and previous work experience. And I'm offering to do HR consultant work, with fully costed management reports with recommendations - the sort of thing I'm told they need.

You may do better to do some networking and then shadow a person? There are lots of mum-networking type things around and one contact will lead to another. What is it you like about HR work? That should give you an idea about where to start and who to approach. I wouldn't be keen on recruitment work myself. Poorly paid (unless you're a city head-hunter or whatever) and just one bit of the process and if you're a big picture type of person, like me, you'll not want to be so niche early on.

I wonder about your previous experience - HR is a lot more vague(for want of a better word) than accountancy and you might struggle with some of the ambiguity?? Which is exactly the stuff I like - it calls for judgement and decision-making and not just good practice and process. Then again you might just love it!

I've met a few HR people who are rubbish with numbers. Those working at senior levels, IME, tend to be much better at that side of it and I think it's a great quality to have so you could find it really advantageous.

You won't struggle to get on a post grad course. If you can stump up the cash you're in as I and StillSquiffy have alluded to!

JenMehtz Sat 04-Jun-16 23:15:22

Hi Westlake, what did you decide to do in the end?

I'm at a similar junction in my life atm; I have a background in finance but have taken time off to have my children.

I'm beginning to consider returning to work, but would like to make a career change and have been considering HR.

How did things work out for you, Westlake?

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