My next move: generalist HR

Q I have an MA in Human Resource Management with full Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development status, and two years’ HR experience from three companies. I joined my current employer six months ago, and I’m already getting frustrated in my job. I am working for a blue-chip company where I should have the potential to progress, but it is difficult to climb the career ladder. I want to move into a generalist adviser role, but feel that I don’t have enough experience. How can I get over this problem?

A It is understandable that you are feeling frustrated. However, the best thing you can do at this stage in your career is to take a step back and re-assess your expectations.

You have a good qualification and you are working for a blue-chip organisation. However, you have worked for three employers in two years. There is a risk that your CV is beginning to demonstrate your frustration and impatience to potential employers, which may be hindering your search for a new role.

Most HR advisers will start to gain experience as an HR assistant or even HR administrator, building up their experience while undertaking some of the essential administrative tasks that every HR department is responsible for. It is not unusual for an HR adviser to have worked as an administrator and/or assistant for two or three years.

Try to speak to your current line manager. Share your longer-term aspirations and offer to undertake additional duties to demonstrate your commitment and desire to learn. Together you can come up with a personal development plan to help achieve your goals.

Be proactive – offer to join project teams, for example. You may be asked to pick up the general support function for more experienced colleagues, but it will raise your profile and give you exposure to broader, business issues, which will put you in a strong position for promotion when suitable opportunities arise.

In addition, I would advise you to seek out a mentor in your current company, someone who is happy to act as a coach and help to develop you. Working within a blue-chip environment, there should be a good selection of colleagues available to fulfil this role.

In your CV, put the emphasis on what you have achieved so far in your career. Do not overstate your experience, and take time to address the fact that this will be your fourth move in two years. Remember, it is acceptable to be ambitious and proactive in developing your career. However, you need to demonstrate a willingness to learn from your superiors and ‘get your hands dirty’ at this early stage.

Lynne Hardman, managing director, Hays Human Resources

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