Am I too qualified for first HR role?

I have an MSc in occupational psychology and I am desperate for a career in
HR. I believe my post-graduate degree should help me to find a suitable role,
but so far I am having no luck. How do I get my foot on the bottom rung of the
HR ladder? I have been rejected from many HR administrator applications despite
my qualifications in HR-related issues and computer literacy and experience in
administration. Advice please! Do HR professionals see my MSc as valuable?

Doug Knott, senior consultant, Chiumento

The answer to your last question is that HR professionals do not perceive
your MSc qualification as valuable for the roles you’ve been applying for. In
retrospect, you may have been better studying for a CIPD qualification, which
is the key qualification in demand for entry-level HR roles.

Employers recruiting for HR administrators probably view your MSc
qualification as a barrier, not an asset. It indicates you are likely to be
seeking challenging work assignments and rapid career progression, which are not
typical features of such roles.

Try applying to large organisations and consultancies that are more likely
to have specialist roles that could benefit from your qualification.

John Baker, head of practice, Macmillan Davies Hodes

I am not surprised that you have been continually rejected from so many HR
administrator roles. Your psychology qualification would be more relevant to an
organisational development or organisational design role. By entering an
organisation through this route you would be far better placed to move across
into a generalist position if this was a route you wanted to take in the
future. If you wanted to pursue the generalist route once you have secured a
role in an organisation, I would advise you to undertake the CIPD qualifications,
as this would give you both the professional knowledge and credibility to apply
for such a position.

Peter Sell, joint managing director, DMS consultancy

I am sure you are not getting considered for HR administration roles because
you are seen to be over-qualified. You need to look carefully at the type of
role you are applying for. Job titles such as assistant personnel officer,
human resources advisor and personnel assistant may offer you more chance of
success. Look at jobs in the public sector – there is a lot of HR recruitment
activity there at present. Another option is to send your CV cold to employers
with a covering letter stating how you feel you could add value to their human
resources function. Statistics show that networking is the most successful
method of achieving that next move.


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