Thrown in at the deep end of HR

a restructuring in January 2000 I was given responsibility for the HR function
for our new office of 50 staff.  I have
not had a huge amount of support from my manager  so I have generally had to "make things up as I go
along" and rely on occasional seminars. The company has agreed to sponsor
me for a University Diploma leading to CIPD graduate membership, but I’m not
sure I want to stay here. Having no reference point, I have no idea how good I
am at what I am doing or what sort of job title I should be looking for. What
should I do next?

Selby, associate director, EJ Human Resources, writes:

what you want to achieve in your career in both the long term and the short
term is critical to this decision, and will help you determine your next move.
Talking through your goals and experience to date with a recruitment
consultant, and discussing the various options available to you will enable you
to decide on the best route for you.

strongly advise you to not be overly concerned about job titles. They vary
greatly from organisation to organisation and I suggest you focus on the
content of potential roles and what the companies have to offer rather than the
job title.

Malpas, joint managing director, Malpas Flexible Learning, writes:

are in a situation I have encountered several times before. My strong advice to
you is to embark on the CIPD Graduate Programme. This will enhance your
professional knowledge and give you the benchmark for your skills in comparison
with others, that you are looking for.

know the saying "a little knowledge can be a dangerous thing". Well,
that could easily apply here in relation to any legal work you may have been
called upon to do. The courses you have done could not prepare you to navigate
the contractual minefield of staff handbooks and contracts. I think you would
feel mortified if one of these blew up on you and your company could also be
"vicariously liable" for giving you this responsibility without the

terms of doing the programme and funding, I think it depends what you agree
contractually with your Company over sponsorship. Many companies only pay part
of the fees and the rest on successful completion. Others feel, quite rightly,
that there is an immediate return on the investment in terms of increased
knowledge and skill. So negotiate a deal which you are comfortable with knowing
you might move on. You could then comfortably apply for personnel manager jobs
knowing that you have the skill and your own worth.

Aitken, consultant, Chiumento, writes:

first thing to do in this situation is to get your CV up to date – make sure
that it focuses on the HR experience that you have had, placing emphasis on the
practical rather than the theoretical and that it covers all your achievements.
It may be that your next step is to work as a number two to an experienced HR
Manager who will be able to develop you through coaching and mentoring and
involving you in stretching projects. This may mean taking a role at HR officer
level – remember titles aren’t everything! Some strategies may include
enrolling on a CIPD course, networking with others in the profession or
volunteering to provide input into project work.

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