The Most Important Considerations for an Aspiring HR Professional


Human resources is a function, a team that will always be needed in organizations of all sizes and from all verticals. After all, no organization can function without some degree of people involvement – from the minimal to heavily people-intensive. Even with the onward march of automation, people will always be required!

There is thus no shortage of aspiring HR professionals, and hence of the question of finding an entry-level job in HR. Organizations increasingly look towards their people as strategic resources, and hence talent management professionals are growing in importance within the HR field.

Below are key considerations to be kept in mind when looking to make an entry into the field:

This is not for a people’s person

The traditional view was that an HR professional is a people’s person. Soft skills are undeniably required, but they are far from sufficient by themselves. The need is to understand the business and apply people strategies that can help it achieve success in its strategic goals.

Getting business experience and then laterally moving into HR is considered a good option, but is unsuitable by definition for someone seeking an entry-level position. What is important is to demonstrate business awareness and competencies, as well as awareness and intelligence about the organization and its industry, attributes possessed by qualified talent management professionals.

Expectations must be realistic

Entry-level candidates must understand that they will not get a straight pass to the boardroom, strategic as the need for HR is. As with many other jobs and departments, initial involvement is often administrative in nature, but is important in building a foundation for a fruitful career. It is important to be able to start at the bottom and properly understand all the components involved, many of which are highly dynamic in nature. Time and experience will ultimately take the person to less routine and seemingly mechanical tasks to those that add more value.

There is more than one way to get in


The most common ways to get an entry-level position in HR are the following:
  • A bachelor’s or master’s degree in HR with basic work experience
  • A degree in a related subject (business, industrial/organizational psychology, analytics or others) and applying the knowledge therein to HR through on-the-job experience coupled with skills from talent management certifications.
  • Experience in an operational role followed by a transition into HR
Depending on the path chosen above, a candidate could choose the TMP, STMP, or GTML certifications offered by the Talent Management Institute.

Do not underestimate the value of work experience

An HR certification or degree does not preclude the need for actual time on the job, be it full-time, part-time, or via an internship. The important part is demonstrating the ability to apply classroom learnings to real-world situations, something that would be encountered on the job. The work of an HR professional involves compliance with numerous laws and regulations, which brings in the need to be up to pace with what can and cannot be done.

There are three ways to get experience:


  • An internship, for the hands-on experience and exposure to prospective employers
  • Involvement with an association/body providing talent management certifications as these bring together practitioners and providers who could offer opportunities
  • Exploring openings with HR service providers and vendors


Always network

Grab any and every opportunity to network with other talent management professionals. These could be great sources of learning different approaches to doing the job, and may well prove to be the foot in the door that gets a candidate the chance to work with a desired employer. Typical sources of networking opportunities are:


  • Alumni
  • Meetings of a local certification or industry body
  • Events for the HR domain


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