Updated: Aug 18
Rejection is on the outskirts
Hearing those words time and time again, you begin to doubt yourself and begin to doubt is it really worth it, you start thinking whether you should just start looking for something else entirely.
If you are determined to get into HR or any other role the answer to that question is a big fat No. Do not give up, do not just adjust. It is not going to be easy and it will be tiring and you are honestly likely to face more rejections or more ghosting too but it will be well worth it in the end.
No HR experience, what now?
You are looking for your first role in HR and of course because it is your first role you will not have any experience in the Human Resources field and more than likely this is why you are not getting anywhere in terms of applications.
No experience, no interviews, no job offers. Something is shouting right at you, if you seriously want a job in HR "Do something about it!" Find a reason why employers should hire you, what makes you stand out from the crowd? I will give you some ideas later on so do keep reading. I thought it would be a good idea first to share with you my struggles of getting in to HR and the solutions of how I got one step closer to my dream job, do not forget you can use these ideas too.
My Long Story Short
Throughout my life there was not one specific job I wanted to do. I changed my mind every few months in my Teenage years especially. I went from wanting to be a vet, a doctor, police officer, in the army, owning my own hairdressing salon and so many more job roles. But then it came the time to select my choices for A Levels and I selected art and photography. I wanted to be an artist. Strangely enough, I left school and I never touched art again since, apart from painting pepper pig for my 4-year-old little boy Leo. The point is I had no idea what I really wanted to be till gone 20.
A few years later I decided to go to university and study a Business Degree. To keep it short in my second year I was speaking to someone a friend of a friend about what job they do and they told me they worked in HR. We had a long conversation about what they do and I really loved the sound of it.
Unlike any of the other jobs I had my heart set on all those years ago, still to this day I want to be a part of HR. Perhaps it's because I have grown up a lot and know that I need to focus on one thing, I don't know but what I do know is from the moment I realised I wanted to work in HR it was a lot of hard work to get my first foot in the door. But I did get in, in the end and all the effort I put in over the few years before was absolutely well worth it in the end.
The hardest thing for me about getting into HR?
Finding someone who would give me an opportunity with absolutely no HR Generalist experience. Even unpaid work placements were ever so difficult to find, which at the time was very surprising to me. No one wanted to take someone on who has absolutely nothing to show related to HR. All they had was my word that I wanted to join HR.
How did I solve that problem?
· Unpaid internship for 3 weeks with a Technology company in the HR Team who then took me on two days per week for around a year on a Part Time Contract..
· A 3-month unpaid work placement as part of my University degree at Great Ormond Street Hospital in their HR Team working on their sickness policies.
· I enrolled for my CIPD Level 7 Course which I am in the process of completing till now.
· I completed my Business Degree and was awarded a scholarship for achieving a First.
· A master’s degree in International Human Resource Management.
· Then eventually I finally secured my first HR Officer role and I was so excited.
It is easy getting a placement, especially if you are willing to do it unpaid, right?
No that is wrong! At the time I could understand why no one would take me on and pay me, but I did not really understand why no one would take me on if I wasn’t getting paid for it. Now I do of course, there are several factors such as the time that will go into training the individual on the placement and so on. Try to find a paid placement if you can.
Now digging deeper into those unpaid work placements, I found at the technology company and Great Ormond Street Hospital, they were my first real exposure to the world of HR, other than the few years of Training and Development Manager experience I had years before. Looking for these placements I literally done everything possible to find somewhere that would let me in. I was prepared to do unpaid, a weeks experience, a month, a year, I was ready because I needed to get some exposure behind me. I looked on indeed, all the job boards, I spoke to friends, even friends of friends and I utilised my LinkedIn account more than I had ever done before.
I sent hundreds and I mean hundreds of DM's to HR Directors, Business Partners and Managers explaining I was looking for an unpaid work placement to get that HR exposure , I also shared some posts on LinkedIn too. Looking back on it now, it could have been worded so much better but back then so much effort went in to those messages trying with all my heart to just be able to undertake some free unpaid work.
The majority politely came back to me they did not have any available, several hundred did not come back to me at all, a few invited me in for a chat to gain more of an insight of HR and then finally months later I went in for a friendly chat with Ester who was a Head of HR and came out with a 3 week internship. It was so exciting; I could not believe it I was finally getting a chance to work in a HR department. So, I started my placement there and then something amazing happened and she offered me a permanent contract on a two day a week basis, which worked great. It allowed me to study for my degree, get some experience and spend quality family time too. I learnt so much. That was the first experience and my first foot in the door.
The second was once again generated through all those messages I sent out on LinkedIn. A HR Director at Great Ormond Street called Ali. He had invited me in to talk about doing a potential project for my university placement working in the HR Department. It was an amazing experience and a privilege to have worked for such an inspirational organisation. Once again I could not believe my luck. I worked there for 3 months and worked on recreating their sickness policies once again a fabulous exposure.
One thing I do know is I have always and will always remember the two people (Ester and Ali) who gave me my first opportunities in HR, my first opportunity to gain exposure to HR and put me in a much better position to apply for HR Positions when I graduated. Out of all those who I messaged those were the two who really allowed me my foot in the door.
After graduating I then was lucky enough to secure a role as an HR Officer. Finding that role came with its challenges and a journey of its own. But I got there and had finally got my first full time HR role. Yippee! I remember getting the call to say I had just past the second round of interview and to go for a coffee chat with the General Manager. The call literally came just after I had come out of another interview (around my twelfth interview), which was nearby the boating lake at Tower Hill and it was absolutely pouring down with rain. I had finally managed to secure that HR Role and ran through the pouring rain to the train station to get home as fast as I can to surprise my Husband and tell him the fantastic news. We were both waiting for a break through and here it had finally come.
Build your foundations!
Once you know the career path you want to take then do not wait around. Start building the foundations by:
· Looking for work placements.
· Studying a HR course - CIPD is a great option.
· Get involved in HR/People related projects.
· Networking utilise social media effectively. Especially LinkedIn.
· Do not be afraid to reach out and ask questions and ask for advice.
· Find yourself a mentor.
There are so many things you can do. Even when you feel you are not getting anywhere and you are looking for your first step in, just know in the end you will get there. The more you do in terms of building up your experience the higher advantage and chance you will have when interviewing for your dream job.
Good luck everybody and if ever you need any top tips just drop me a message!
Be determined, reach for the stars and you can achieve anything you want!
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