How can I move into general HR?

I am a graduate with four years’ recruitment experience at all levels from
graduate to CEO at an executive search firm. I am putting together and
implementing European recruitment strategies, but I ultimately want to be an HR
manager. How can I get generalist experience to do this? Is there any way of
doing this without a drop in salary, and what sort of career plans should I be

Margaret Malpas, joint managing director, Malpas Flexible Learning

Look for a job in personnel in a company which involves recruitment –
especially with a European flavour – and other resourcing tasks. You might then
get the job for your recruitment experience, but at the same time be broadening
your experience.

Another thing to think about is whether you have got HR qualifications. If
not, this is something you should definitely consider.

The salary might be lower because you are unlikely to get the same sort of
on-target earnings bonuses. However, your salary will be more predictable, and
if you look at jobs in the City you might maintain your package.

Jo Selby, associate director, EJ Human Resources

With no generalist experience it is, in the current market, highly unlikely
that you would be able to secure a generalist officer-level position straight
away. You may wish to consider moving into a more junior role which will enable
you to learn the basics and progress from there. This would, however, almost
certainly involve a significant pay drop.

The alternative and more usual route for someone with your background would
be to use your experience to secure an in-house recruitment position with an
organisation that would allow you to develop laterally in the longer term and
hence open up generalist opportunities to you.

It is hard to comment on salary, but in my experience you may be able to
maintain your basic pay, but you will lose the commission you are currently
earning. However, I would urge you to look at this as part of a long-term
strategy to achieving your ultimate goal.

Peter Wilford, consultant, Chiumento

You are well placed to begin a dialogue with HR managers in the companies
with which you deal. If they see you as reliable, efficient and
customer-focused they will keep you in mind when openings emerge. Let them know
your attributes and aspirations.

Be prepared to drop your salary in order to make that first vital move. When
faced with a choice between a highly paid job and a lower paid position about
which you feel passionate, go for the latter as your interest and enthusiasm
will eventually bring financial reward as well as job satisfaction.

There are ways of broadening your experience while capitalising on your
skills. Take on a resourcing specialist role in a corporate environment.

Join a consultancy that undertakes general HR posts as well as recruitment.
This would give you the chance to examine other parts of the HR

Also think about gaining an HR qualification. If the company is unwilling to
support day release, there are some excellent distance learning courses

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