Experience is the ticket to HR career progression

People walking to work

Experience is the most crucial factor when it comes to advancing a career in HR, according to the findings of an XpertHR survey into the profession.

Almost 90% of respondents felt that business knowledge or experience were the most helpful for someone looking to advance their career. When asked whether direct HR experience was more relevant than broad business knowledge, four people in 10 said it was more important to have knowledge of the wider business.

Respondents were divided on the importance of academic qualifications to progressing a career in HR: nearly half agreed with the statement “academic qualifications are not required as an entry to the HR profession”, a slightly greater proportion than in XpertHR’s previous HR careers survey in 2011.

Alongside experience, three-quarters of HR professionals polled by XpertHR felt that a CIPD qualification was necessary for promotion. CIPD membership at some level was widespread, with 83% holding individual membership of their professional body, 26% associate membership, 13% chartered fellow status and 12% graduate membership. Fifteen per cent said they were not members of any management or professional associations.

XpertHR resources

XpertHR’s benchmarking service has the full data on all the questions from this survey, which also covers:

  • how HR professionals manage their ongoing HR career and management development;
  • how often they scan the HR job market for new career opportunities; and
  • where they are most likely to look for new career opportunities.

The 2014 survey drew similar conclusions to the 2011 survey when it came to reasons for joining the profession. Almost half (48%) said they had entered HR “by chance”, while the second most popular reason was “the chance to work with people”.

In 2011, although not a matched sample of respondents, the proportion of people admitting to going into HR by chance was 45%. Almost three in five were happy with their decision, however, saying that they would choose HR as a career again if they had to start over.

In terms of barriers to progression in HR, one-third of respondents said that “HR not being viewed as important enough by the organisation” was unhelpful in terms of career advancement, while a quarter said a lack of clear strategy for HR got in their way. Just over two-thirds (37%) said a lack of senior HR opportunities was an issue.

Finally, it would appear HR is not considered to be an especially high-earning career: only 2.5% of respondents went into it because it “pays well”.

2 Responses to Experience is the ticket to HR career progression

  1. Tina 11 Jan 2014 at 3:46 pm #

    Not true, i’m afraid. I have a lot of experience, have worked in contracts the last 2 years and have qualifications up to HRM Diploma level. I have paid for qualifications myself, because businesses I have worked at could not or would not pay for HR studies. To progress from Senior HR Advisor to HRBP, experience is not acknowledged, it’s a degree. I can say this, as I have tried for 2 years and applied for well over 100 HRBP jobs and been rejected for all of them. I have been working in HR for 7.5 years.

  2. bb 14 Jan 2014 at 4:19 pm #

    I have 25+ yrs experience across many problems and seeing round robin fads and ideas come and go. But sometimes you are told when apply for posts that ‘you are overqualified for one role, so you step up your type of job applications where you are told not enough skills etc. One cannot win. I studied at IPM’s own Duncan House in London for my training and obtained degree Corporate, but the membership cost is very expensive, so I do not subscribe but attend my branch meetings. Fellow beckons but expensive so experience and skills do speak volumes.