I want to work in psychology

am a PA, I have an honours degree in Social Psychology and am half way through
an MSc in Occupational Psychology. I wish to be a consultant in occupational
psychology. I have gained experience through secondments to the HR department
and by organising and attending training events. However, this doesn’t seem
enough to make the move into HR and the opportunities are a bit thin on the
ground. What do you suggest I do next?

Malpas, joint managing director, Malpas Flexible Learning

think you will find it difficult to jump from your current position as a PA
into occupational psychology consultancy, even with your education. I would
advise that you apply for something in the middle.

could either be in a personnel post or as a tester for aptitude or personality
testing – you would need BPS level A and B for this.

Cook, project co-ordinator, Chiumento

is not clear how far you are getting with your applications, but it may well be
that you are not getting interviews because your CV focuses on your role as a
PA. With your additional experience and qualifications it would make sense to
structure a CV that demonstrates the relevant experience that you have gained.
It should stress your achievements in detail.  

move into consultancy, you need to be able to demonstrate to clients that you
have gained expertise in the areas in which you wish to provide consultancy
services and have the necessary commercial acumen and business experience. This
probably means working in HR for a few years, ideally in project-based roles
effecting change in the organisation.

you may find that with some of the larger consultancy firms there are
trainee/assistant roles available while you are qualifying, initially as a
"backroom" assistant learning the consultancy ropes, then as your
skills develop, moving into roles with more client contact.

are advantages to both. The HR route will give you more in-depth business
experience and an insight into client needs – as a junior consultant, assuming
you have a good coach, you will get early exposure to the skills of client
management, as well as work with a variety of companies.

obtain a more front-line HR role, send your CV to the major HR recruitment
consultancies that advertise in the HR magazines. You could also write to the
main players direct.

addition to the specialist firms of occupational psychologists, the major
generalist HR consultancies may have trainee opportunities and the main
outplacement and career consultancy organisations often employ occupational

the same time, you may wish to consider doing the CIPD qualification given that
many employers look for this as a prerequisite for offering employment to HR

White, consultant, EJ Human Resources

are understandably frustrated at the lack of opportunities due to the slow
market. What this means is that you will need to be flexible with regard to the
salary and the type of posts you accept. Keep on with the methods you are using
– the current market requires a great deal of patience.

also suggest you use the contacts you have made through your course, as
networking is often a very good way of getting a foot in the door.

will need some HR experience to operate with any credibility in a consultancy
role as you will need to understand how occupational psychology impacts on the
role of HR.

try to get this experience in large companies where there is a career path to
the role you ultimately want.

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