How to get in…
This role is normally seen as either a first job for a graduate, or a route into HR for someone with general office experience. There is often fierce competition, so gaining six to 12 months’ relevant experience will help you to stand out from the crowd. If you are looking for your first job, it is important to demonstrate strong people skills, along with a keen interest in HR. An HR-related degree has benefits, as does a basic grasp of employment law. Temp roles and maternity cover are popular routes in and a great way to build experience.
What it involves…
All generalist HR roles involve supporting the organisation’s managers and staff, and you will be expected to provide professional advice on a range of issues. Depending on your level of seniority, your day will include:
Acting as the first point of contact for staff
General administration and database updates
Typing and distributing contract, offer and salary/bonus letters
Organisational analysis and producing reports
Policy and programme administration
Identifying specific needs of staff or departments.
Experience is the key to career progression through the generalist roles, but the knowledge you gain in different areas of HR will always be of benefit if you want to move into a more specialist HR area. You should also aim to become CIPD qualified – maybe at administrator or adviser level. There is almost no difference in the salaries being offered by commercial or public sector organisations – certainly at many of the junior levels. Both sectors now require a certain amount of commercial acumen so you can easily move between them.