Anyone who is serious about getting on in their career needs to be constantly aware of the training they need to get them to the next stage. It’s important to do the right training at the right time, so that your efforts aren’t wasted and learning lost.
There is little point in doing an MBA straight after graduating from college if you want to move into HR. MBAs are about building on experience already gained in the workplace and getting a good understanding of all aspects of business, as Carl Tams, membership services manager at the Association of MBAs explains.
“We see the MBA as being very useful for moving into general management in particular,” he says. “It is very much a post-experience qualification as it is geared towards people who have work experience and management experience. It is about enhancing your career and is certainly not a post-university degree, or something to start a person’s career.”
A lot of people do undertake MBAs, but later on in their careers when they want to move on to the next level or sidestep into a different field. It is a very useful qualification for HR professionals who need a broader business understanding and need to be able to talk the talk of sales, marketing and finance directors. It gives HR professionals more clout with their peers if they can show a good understanding of all parts of the business.
“The main advantage of the MBA is that it covers a broad range of courses – HR, leadership, finance, marketing, sales, organisational management and so on,” says Tams. “It also gives people the confidence to sit in the boardroom and ask the right questions.”
Doing an MBA is also a great networking opportunity as it gives delegates a window into other organisations and senior professionals in all disciplines. It is sometimes said that this is actually the biggest advantage to taking an MBA. “People say they learn more on their MBA from each other than their tutors,” says Tams.
The only time that someone might want to take an MBA to kickstart their HR career is if they already have stacks of work experience in another business area, but need something to help them make the move across into HR.
Those trying to get into HR fresh from college will need a straight HR qualification, probably gained from the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development .
The most important thing to remember is that it should be HR specific, says Victoria Winkler, learning, training and development adviser at the CIPD.
“What we found in our HR career survey is that having something specifically related to HR was definitely desirable,” she says. “The evidence is that the more general academic/vocational qualifications are not as important as specific HR ones.”
A high percentage of people take the CIPD qualification. “It is perceived as one of the best ways into HR,” says Winkler.
Some do it before getting a job, although a lot of companies will give fledgling HR professionals the time and financial support to take the qualification while working.