What does a career in HR involve?

Fiona Jackson, OA Career Consultant, shares her insights into working in HR

There are many misunderstandings about the purpose of HR. Many Service leavers may have worked in different aspects of HR but probably not the whole range.

HR is a varied and diverse industry, which is part of the corporate strategy of an organisation. Its functions include employment law, organisation design, discipline and grievance procedures, equality and diversity, learning and development, managing union agreements, recruitment, pay and benefits and talent management and succession planning

Service leavers, especially those leading teams, will probably have been involved in the implementation of HR policies and procedures and training, rather than the strategy.
For example, a service leaver may have had to implement a redundancy programme, but would not have necessarily had to do the higher level planning around it beforehand.

Another new area will be performance related pay. In the commercial sector salaries can vary depending on whether or not people achieve agreed targets. The HR department will be involved in deciding the level o pay and bonuses, setting targets and measuring success.

Service leavers have many transferrable skills, which can make you excellent candidates for a new career in HR. You will likely be experienced at managing discipline procedures; working with people at all levels and putting the needs of the organisation first.

If you are interested in working in HR then you should seriously consider gaining professional accreditation with the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD). Becoming a member requires time and money, but you can your learning credits to help. There are different types of membership, and senior officers can apply for a higher level if they can demonstrate they have the relevant skills and experience.

You should also consider the sort of HR career you want. A small company will usually require you to be a generalist, while in a large corporation you will probably specialise e.g. learning and development.

About Fiona Jackson
Fiona is a Career Consultant at the OA and former Army officer, having also previously worked in HR for the commercial and not-for profit sectors.

Read Pathfinder Magazine
You can read more about HR careers in the latest issue of Pathfinder Magazine, which is dedicated to Service leavers and veterans looking for new careers after leaving the Armed Forces. The OA edits a monthly article called ‘Ask the Experts’, where industry leaders answer different employment questions.

Read the article.