Many large organisations run HR graduate schemes to develop employees who can get the best out of their greatest asset - the workforce

Human resources (HR) jobs at leading graduate employers attract plenty of interest in terms of the volume of applications. However, don't let this competition put you off, as you'll find there's the potential to work in almost any industry and even specialise in a particular area of HR, such as recruitment or learning and development (L&D).

Which companies run HR graduate schemes?

Organisations in every sector have a need for HR professionals. Whether you're looking to work for a leading financial services company (for instance, KPMG, PwC or Lloyds Banking Group) or forge a career in healthcare with the National Health Service (NHS) or pharmaceutical company GSK, there are various human resources graduate schemes to consider.

Here are some more examples:

  • Construction - the human resources strand of the two to three-year Balfour Beatty Business Graduate Scheme enables graduates to study for CIPD qualifications while they receive formal training from this leading British construction services firm.
  • Energy - the human resources strand of BP's Business Graduate Programme also allows graduates to achieve CIPD qualifications while rotating across placements during three years of training. In the second of three years building your skills and gaining experience on Centrica's HR Graduate Programme, you can expect to gain your CIPD qualification, while the three placements will introduce you to areas including talent management and succession planning, diversity and inclusion, and employee engagement.
  • Hospitality - the two-year Mitchells and Butlers HR Graduate Scheme will train you in disciplines such as recruitment, L&D and employee relations, as you embark upon three-month projects. Again, by studying for a CIPD qualification, this provides you with the platform to progress your professional HR career.
  • Public services and administration - the Civil Service Fast Stream in Human Resources gives graduates with at least a 2:2 the opportunity to work within both strategic and operational HR environments. On completion of the three-year programme, you'll have completed CIPD accreditation for the Postgraduate Diploma (PG Dip) in HR Management.
  • Retail - on the two-year Boots HR Graduate Scheme you'll get to take on a store role alongside a regional HR partner before moving to the support office and specialising in areas such as reward, recruitment, learning and development, or employee relations. There's also the two-year accelerated Nestlé HR Graduate Programme, which offers an exciting insight into operational and strategic people practices. Through various roles you'll get to work with some of the company's biggest brands as you support its wide-ranging business portfolio.
  • Transport and logistics - if you have a love of automobiles and HR, both Jaguar Land Rover and Rolls Royce have training and development programmes that offer a route to CIPD membership, honing your leadership skills along the way. Two 12-month placements in HR generalist or specialist roles form part of the Human Resource Graduate Programme with logistics and supply chain company DHL. As well as support in studying towards CIPD qualifications, you'll get to work in a range of fast-paced environments. For customer-focused individuals who are both supportive and great listeners, Network Rail's Graduate Business Management Programme based in Milton Keynes may be for you. Former graduates on the scheme have moved on to work in senior HR business partner roles. Finally, the Royal Mail Group Human Resources Graduate Programme is designed for ambitious graduates with commercial acumen and strong interpersonal skills. As with all these programmes, you'll be able to gain CIPD qualifications as you rotate through your four placement challenges.

What about recruitment graduate schemes?

Some recruitment consultancies also run training programmes for graduates or encourage newly-qualified graduates with the right personality traits to apply for roles with the agency.

For example, if you're eager to succeed within a high-energy environment, the REED Graduate Training Scheme develops talented graduates into leaders and senior managers, while there's also the possibility of studying towards relevant CIPD or Chartered Management Institute (CMI) qualifications.

How do I get onto an HR graduate scheme?

Before you can expect to be awarded a place on one of these two or three-year HR graduate programmes, you'll almost certainly have to navigate a lengthy application process, which involves assessment centres and psychometric testing.

This is because recruiters will typically be investing their money in graduates with the potential to thrive in a pressurised situation - often providing financial support while new recruits study with professional bodies such as the CIPD. See HR courses for more information on the range of qualifications available.

What will I do on an HR graduate scheme?

Many graduate schemes involve rotational placements between different areas of HR, such as employee relations, learning and development, performance management and recruitment and resourcing, as well as travel across different office locations in the UK or overseas.

It's worth checking the precise details of the scheme you're considering applying for thoroughly, as what you'll be doing and where you'll be located can vary. Alternatively, browse different types of human resources jobs.

What are the entry requirements?

To be eligible to apply for human resources graduate programmes, you'll typically require at least a 2:1. However, some ask for a 2:2 or take work experience or postgraduate qualifications into consideration. The degree can usually be in any subject.

You'll also commonly be expected to be flexible in where in the UK you're willing (and able) to travel in order to carry out the role.

If you're wondering, 'Is there an age limit?' you'll be glad to know that employers are not allowed to stipulate a specific age range for suitable candidates, so while recent graduates are most likely to apply, these schemes are open to all those who meet the eligibility criteria.

How much will I be paid?

To give you an idea of how much you could be earning, here's a list of current salaries offered by leading employers running dedicated HR graduate programmes:

  • Centrica - £27,000, plus £3,000 starting bonus.
  • Civil Service Fast Stream - £28,000.
  • DHL - £26,000, plus benefits.
  • Jaguar Land Rover - £29,000, and a £2,000 joining bonus.
  • Mitchells and Butlers - £27,500.
  • REED - £29,000, including OTE and £1,000 joining bonus.
  • Rolls Royce - £28,500, plus £2,000 joining bonus.
  • Royal Mail Group - £26,000, plus location pay, annual bonus and benefits.

You can also view the human resources officer job profile for further salary information and to explore what this specific role usually entails.