I am in my second term of a full-time MBA at Warwick Business School and am
interested in pursuing a strategic HR role in the future. I have nine years
sales and management experience in the fmcg and leisure sectors and an MA in
leadership and change from Liverpool Business School. I also have a first
degree but no dedicated HR experience. How can I build on my experience and
training to date to pursue this goal?
Warren Green, director, EJ Human Resources
Unfortunately, it will vary depending on the state of the HR job market. In
the current climate, with limited opportunities, you will be in competition
with people who already have experience, so do not be surprised if you have to
work hard to find an opportunity.
I suggest you apply for contract as well as permanent HR-related roles with
firms within the sectors you already have experience in. Your understanding of
the environments will give you a slight edge over the competition. Also, you
may have to be flexible over the level and salary you might consider, in order
to get your foot in the door.
Clive Sussams, recruitment consultant, Malpas Flexible Learning
The big problem you have is persuading potential employers that your
academic, strategic and general management skills gained in a broader business
context, outweigh the lack of specific HR experience.
Senior HR strategists have generally attained these roles via mainstream HR
careers or consultancy. Certainly your skills should be of interest,
particularly in change management as these are high profile in today’s
It has never been easy for any person to start a career in HR, the lack of
experience is always the stumbling point in the selection process. I would
suggest you actively market your skills, particularly with larger companies and
consultancies which may be prepared to train and invest in you. If you have
language skills, then highlight these in your CV, as they may offer you
Anna Cook, consultant, Chiumento
Wanting to get into strategic HR with your background and experience is not
a pipe dream, play to your strengths and minimise your lack of HR experience.
Your strengths are a strong academic record backed up by:
– Your operational background
– Your breadth of business vision
– Your management experience
If you choose to move into HR consultancy, your sales experience will also be
an asset as it is relevant to the client management aspect of the role.
Furthermore, your lack of hands-on experience may be less of a problem, because
the work is often team-based.
The alternative of starting in an operational HR role may be more tricky, as
you are likely to be competing with CIPD qualified candidates with senior-level
Whatever route you decide, ensure your CV highlights your strengths and
underlines your potential, then conduct a professional job search campaign. Try
talking to HR consultancies in particular.