After gaining the RSA Higher Diploma in administrative procedures, I wanted
to work in HR, so after some advice from my local university I did the
Certificate in Personnel Practice. After this I secured a four-month contract
as an HR assistant. I feel I should now be starting my university Diploma in
Personnel Management, but I cannot find a suitable job to suit my
qualifications – assistant, administrator or officer. As time goes on I am
losing the skills I had and am not performing well at interview. I am 42, but
with guidance and determination I could climb the ladder even at my time of
Peter Lewis, consultant, Chiumento
Your letter raises a number of overlapping issues – including career
expectations, confidence and motivation – so let’s start with a positive, which
is that you are getting interviews. This means the interviewers felt you could
do the job and what you may regard as barriers – including your age and
experience – have been discounted. When you get your next interview,
concentrate on how to make the best of that situation.
Interviews are not just about your ability, they are about what are you like
to work with, so use them as an opportunity to build rapport.
Preparation is crucial, not only about the job and the organisation, but the
fit with your experience. Seek feedback from people who know you well to verify
your strengths and think of examples in your work that illustrate them. Aim to
demonstrate your interest in the position by your preparation and your
enthusiasm for the role and put these over from the outset – you only have one
chance to make an initial impression.
One way of rebuilding your confidence may be to arrange to have a mock
interview with someone who could give some feedback on the responses you give.
Find a trusted and honest former colleague or a career counsellor who can take
an objective and challenging viewpoint and support you with practical help.
Jo Selby, associate director, EJ Human Resources
So far you have obtained two qualifications and at this stage I would not
suggest that you undertake any further study without gaining some HR
Without knowing your previous work history it is impossible to say what
HR-related skills you have already acquired. On the basis of your having four
months’ HR experience achieved at assistant level, I suggest you aim to secure
another junior HR role at administration level which will give you a good
grounding and enable you to progress from there.
With the market being tight at the moment, there is a trend for
organisations to be recruiting HR administrators with experience, so be aware
that you may find it is harder to secure a role than previously.
Clive Sussams, recruitment consultant, Malpas Flexible Learning
You are facing the problem experienced by most people wishing to pursue a
career in HR in that you are unable to obtain a permanent role due to your lack
Having obtained your CPP, you should register to start studying for CIPD
membership as this will give you knowledge of HR management.
While studying, you will need to develop as big a network as possible to
help with your job search as well as reading the major HR journals. You may
also find that members of your local CIPD branch may be able to help. It may
well be that your best chance will be via temporary or contract work to
reassure prospective employers of your flexibility and enthusiasm.