I am working in a small recruitment agency which specialises in accountancy.
I am the company administrator/researcher and have been here for more than
three years. I have done my Certificate in Personnel Practice, and also
graduated with a 2:2 in psychology and health sciences.
I have repeatedly applied for jobs in HR, and I am looking for an
administrative post so that I can progress and further my education within the
Why is it so tough? How am I supposed to gain HR experience when no-one will
give me the kickstart I need?
Professor Towler says:
You are clearly very well qualified and obviously keen to continue building
your portfolio of qualifications and experience, so I can fully understand your
frustration at being unable to get the career move you want.
I found myself in exactly the same position a number of years ago when I
left the civil service to start my own consultancy.
Like you, I had a basket full of qualifications but was struggling to break
into the market. Then a former colleague gave me an extremely simple and
valuable piece of advice. It boiled down to ‘what do you specialise in, and how
does your specialism add value?’
Once I found the answer I never looked back, and in many ways I think this
is the key to your problem, too.
HR is made up of a number of sometimes very different areas and levels of
expertise. These include a wide variety of disciplines, such as training,
corporate services, operations, rewards, learning and development, recruitment,
employment law, compensation and benefits – just to name a few. In other words,
the HR market is comprised of a range of different niches which change and
develop according to organisational and business needs.
I suggest you study the market and identify potential niches you can compete
in. You have a recruitment background, and your CPP and degree give you
additional areas of expertise, too. You have research skills and you know the
You probably also know quite a lot about financial services more generally –
and this is just for starters.
So, rather than applying for administrative posts, try looking for more
specialised positions where your background gives you a stronger competitive