The challenges of getting into HR

By Giulia Falconeri
4 March 2022

Being a fresh graduate or a young professional during the pandemic brought many challenges to young people seeking full-time employment. It was just as challenging for those young people hoping to start their careers in HR.

I completed my MSc in HRM during the summer of 2020. After my internship, I started looking for full-time HR jobs and applied everywhere. I was eager to begin my first proper HR role and get to know and learn everything about the profession, but the task was not easy. The pandemic, however, rendered my job search extremely hard. The market was dead, many companies had most of their staff still on furlough, and most organisations had frozen hiring.

Rejections, Covid-19 and the Labour Market

After a couple of months of sending my CV, I started getting called for interviews, but I never got the job. Companies said I didn’t have enough experience and didn’t want to risk hiring someone with little to no experience. The combination of repeated rejections, the pandemic and a very challenging labour market made me extremely frustrated. I began to think companies would never hire again and that I’d never get a job in HR.

When I began my degree, my fellow students and I would constantly hear the same narrative ‘you will get so many job offers after your Masters’, or ‘you’ll get a high salary straight away with your degree qualifications’. The reality for me, however, was very different and the pandemic certainly didn’t help matters. I never thought that getting into HR would prove as challenging as it did, especially after investing so much into getting my degree.

Lack of confidence

What disappointed me the most was the lack of confidence shown by hiring managers; no one seemed to want to invest in young talent with little experience. My experience has made me realise just how important it is for HR professionals to reach out to newly qualified individuals – it’s key to not missing good and valuable talent.

I understand why managers might be reluctant to hire someone with little to no experience rather than someone with five-plus years of experience. Still, in my view, that might not always be the best choice. In my opinion, companies should find alternative ways to invest in more initiatives to open the doors of HR to those with little or no experience.

Seize the drive and enthusiasm

Students and entry-level HR professionals are eager to learn and get to know the profession; they will devote themselves to the job and will do their best to show that they are keen to learn and get into the world of HR. Furthermore, every job is supposed to provide you with training when you start, so even more experienced candidates won’t know everything straight away and will have to get to know the organisation’s processes and practices.

After a long search and many closed doors, I finally secured my first HR role in September 2020. Since then my career has taken off, and I’ve experienced many positives. Many opportunities came my way, giving me the chance to secure my current role as an HR Advisor back in April 2021.

Looking back, I can say that all the pain and frustration I experienced in getting into HR was worth it for where I am now. Still, I think that no one, no matter what age or experience, should have to go through such an experience and face all the obstacles I had, to get into the HR profession.

Never surrender

My advice to those approaching the HR and people profession is to never surrender in front of challenges and trying times. Keep pursuing your dreams and aspirations; you will find those who believe in your talent and skills and will want to invest in you and in developing your talent.

About Giulia

Giulia joined the CIPD Manchester Branch team of Ambassadors in September 2021, supporting us in delivering our programme of activities for people professionals. She also works with committee members to plan communications. Giulia recently featured in the March edition of People Management Magazine ‘When I grow up I want to be an HR Person’ P35

CIPD Career Hub

The Career Hub is a CIPD member-only support resource packed full of the latest, regularly-updated career-based learning and support. The Career Hub helps you identify and conquer your key development areas, giving you the best chance of success and also offers dedicated support for students, including relevant content to help choose your career path, search for jobs, develop your CV, and prepare for interviews.

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