Almost half (45%) of HR practitioners entered the profession "by chance", according to early findings from XpertHR's 2011 research into HR careers.
The interim findings from the research, which is still underway, also highlight the fact that more than four HR practitioners in five (81.6%) did not start out working in HR. However, despite this initial lack of direction towards the profession, four HR practitioners in 10 said that they hold a post-graduate HR-related qualification.
Common motivations for choosing HR included wanting to work with people and the fact that it was a natural progression from previous roles.
The research also found that almost half of the 500-plus HR practitioners taking part in the survey have experienced barriers to advancing their careers, the main obstacle being the lack of senior HR opportunities available.
Experience gained through generalist HR roles is regarded as the most valuable factor in climbing the HR career ladder.
On a positive note, more than two-thirds (68%) are "quite confident" that there will be good job prospects for HR professionals in the future.
The survey is still open. Respondents who complete it will receive a copy of the findings in full as soon as they are published.