Making the switch to a career in HR

I am currently working in a management role within the bar industry and looking to make a career change into HR. With HR duties only taking up a small amount of my job description I decided to undertake a CIPD level 3 certificate.

Having recently completed the course, I am finding it difficult to find work due to lack of experience. I am keen to start from the bottom as this is both a new and exciting challenge for me therefore, any advice or suggestions as to what I can do to further my efforts would be greatly appreciated.

  • Paul

    | 38 Posts

    Chartered Member

    31 Oct, 2014 16:12

    Hi Mark,

    I feel your pain! I was in a similar position when I made the decision to move into HR a number of years ago.

    For me, when searching for roles, I took advice from Recruitment Consultants as to what was missing from my CV/experience etc, and then worked toward this, updating my CV accordingly. I kept a learning diary, so I could track my development and now, there are tools on the CIPD website that can also give you a steer.

    Enrol in your local CIPD group and network, as this helps to identify possibilities and contacts. If you've completed your level 3 certificate, what are your plans on next steps? Keep the momentum going and work toward your full CIPD? Sing from the rooftops on your CV about what you've achieved, how you did it, how your previous work experience applies to HR and specifically, what value you've added.

    Hope this helps.

  • Hi Mark

     I feel your pain  and unfortunately continue to do so. I too have been at a career crossroads since August last year and my  'battle' goes on in order to get a HR role with large enough scope in order to develop my skills & experience. There are many threads on the subject which have helped me in regards to at least understanding that I'm not the only one, so do have a read of these!

    So for what my advice is worth you could try some of the following:

    1. apply for Office Manager and/or HR & office manager roles or such like. Verify the scope of HR in the role  and also whether the company is growing in size or if it has an established HR dept that you may be able to get some experience in.

    2. Look at HR voluntary roles (i considered even attempting to get experience at weekends!) 

    2. I generally go with jobs that are straight to Employer and bypass the recruitment agents as they simply want to pigeon hole me in the career I was keen to leave!

    3. As Paul suggested join your local CIPD branch and attend events

    4. If your HR scope in your current role is minimal, spend time focusing on the behaviours that the CIPD Map highlights and how you engender them. Which do you need two work on? how?

    5. Ensure your CV is as HR-centric as you can possibly make it - bring everything back to people and development

    6. Can you current company give you some experience in the HR dept? Would you do this unpaid?

    As I said, I am still finding it very tough however I remain positive and soak up all HR knowledge that I read on these communities in particular! Plus books and publications, blogs and web posts. 

    Ultimately, believe that your experience in management will come to the fore and will benefit you when you finally get your first 'pure' HR position. It will set you above the rest!

    Best of luck!


  • Hi Paul/Catherine.

    Many thanks for your advice; it is comforting to know that I am not the only person who has been through this. The good news is that my certificate came through this morning so this has given me a boost in confidence.

     I shall take your advice and suggestions on board and will let you know how I get on.

    Once again, many thanks for taking the time to reply. 

  • Claire Bishop

    | 2 Posts

    Chartered Member

    11 Nov, 2014 09:59

    In reply to Paul:

    Hi Mark

    Congratulations on achieving your certificate.  I just wanted to let you know that we are developing some new services and tools for people in your position.  Look out for a new HR Career Hub on our website in the new year (www.cipd.co.uk/careers).  It has advice, tools, articles on how to get into HR and get an HR job.

    All of the advice Paul and Catherine gave is great; it would be fantastic to start to go to local branch events and build your HR network.  You can also keep an eye on the website for updates on the new career services pilots we are running in the new year:  a series of career workshops that will help our members to plan their HR career. 

    Do you know anyone in HR who would mentor you?  Your local branch might be able to help with that, and we are also testing a new mentor service at the moment (also on the website for updates)

    Good luck, and please keep in touch!  If you want any more info please email us at careersupport@cipd.co.uk 

  • Emma

    | 312 Posts


    11 Nov, 2014 15:19

    Hi Mark

     I made the same switch from pub management to HR about 8 years ago. 

    The advice you've already been given is really good and I would add that that there was general assumption from recruiters that my job involved pulling pints and stocking fridges so I would make sure that your CV is carefully tailored to reflect the HR and management aspects of your role. 

    My route into HR involved finding jobs through temping agencies that had even the tiniest smidgen of HR duties. For example I temped as a Training Records Administrator, a receptionist in an HR services company and an administrator for a recruitment agency. These jobs enabled me to get a permanent role as a HR / JDE Administrator (and I quickly got the JDE part of my title dropped).

    Good luck with your job hunt


  • Hi everyone!

    Sadly, I have heard nothing back from my local CIPD branch but I am happy to say that I have recently been successful in my search and start my new HR role next year. 

    Thanks again for all of the advice and for also sharing some of your own experiences. I hope you all have a fantastic Christmas and wish you all the best for the coming new year.


  • Hi Mark


    Congratulations! Would be great to find out which path you took and how you got there? Good news stories are very motivational for us folk who are trying to make a successful switch so please do share!



  • Steve Bridger

    | 7585 Posts

    Community Manager

    9 Dec, 2014 09:32

    Hi Mark,

    Which branch - and when did you get in touch?

    I will make enquiries!

  • Emma

    | 312 Posts


    9 Dec, 2014 11:38

    congratulations Mark - great news



  • Please accept my apologies for the long absence... this was unintentional but unavoidable. Anyway.

    I am three weeks into my new job in HR and although this is only the first step (and fixed term), it has been very rewarding to be able say... I achieved my goal.  

     Steve - It was the Manchester branch. Sadly still no reply and I have since found my own answers. Probably an oversight so no grudges held.

    Emma - Thank you for the advice, the well wishes... nice to see someone from the same background enjoying success.

     Catherine - Thank you for all of your advice and well wishes also... Each unsuccessful interview or application refusal became  the fuel which motivated me to carry on. As I've already mentioned this is only the first step; I have taken a reduction in pay and my contract is fixed term... however, I am now working in HR. I am so far enjoying the experience and I am fortunate enough to be working with a fantastic team who have proven that there are people out there who really do care about performing their role in the right way. If you haven't made the switch as of yet then don't give up.. and if there is anything else I can do then please let me know.



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