CIPD: A career in HR


The number one task for human resources (HR) is to help build and sustain strong, well-defined cultures. Find out how to get started...

Ask any top CEO what makes their business special. Nine times out of ten they’ll talk about people. It may be a cliché, but it’s also true – outstanding people create exceptional organisations.

When organisations are culturally strong they are better able to attract top talent, they have higher morale and reduced staff turnover. HR covers a range of interconnected activities, but essentially they’re all about generating performance through people.

HR professionals recruit, train and develop employees, and look at how they get rewarded. They deal with legal issues, help to shape the culture of their organisations, and focus on what keeps their colleagues productive and engaged.

Is it right for you?

If you’ve a strong interest in business and the factors that make a business a success, coupled with an interest in the way people work then HR is for you.

The beauty of a career in HR is that you get such great insights into all aspects of business. There are many different ways in, whatever your level of experience or expertise. Once there you’ll develop skills that are highly transferable.

How do I get started?

Some organisations have graduate training schemes that you can apply for while at university. Many big businesses have entry-level HR positions which can be a great launch pad for your career. Either way, there are great opportunities if you are willing to work hard and get involved.

What’s the pay like?

Experienced HR professionals command attractive salaries. A graduate level HR officer can expect to earn on average £24,375. With the right skills and motivation, you can expect swift progression early on. HR managers earn on average £47,145 and directors earn on average £82,000.

For more information on starting a career in HR visit

Top tips

  • Gather feedback. Ask colleagues, friends and family to help you build awareness of your strengths, and then play to them. If you enjoy dealing with managers – both listening and having the opportunity to use your influencing skills – then you might want to find out more about HR adviser opportunities.
  • Shadow a family member or friend. Find out more about HR or specialist roles by asking if you can shadow someone in that role: for example a specialist in reward management or learning and development.
  • Take time to really understand business and operational priorities, as this is fundamental to being credible whichever avenue you choose to follow in HR.
  • Connect with the HR community and tell them about your ambitions. HR is everywhere; LinkedIn, CIPD events, Facebook, Twitter, fellow students, family and friends. Find others who are working in HR and stay in touch; be the first to find out about opportunities.