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You know who to go to in the company for any and every issue, and you get to be the gatekeeper to other people within your organisation so you have quite a degree of control. You get to see employees progress through all the different stages of their job life cycle too — from the excitement of a job offer to that first day, their first promotion, right through to seeing someone go off on maternity leave for their first baby, and even then maybe onto an amazing new job somewhere else.It's a role where you see someone’s whole journey and you get to see people you really care about succeed.
People always think of HR as a cost on the business, but in reality it actually saves money. If you can make sure the company is hiring the right people, avoiding getting sued, and investing in in-house training so that you can save on agency fees — you’re massively increasing efficiency. It’s a function that’s often hugely underrated, but has such a big impact.
There is no typical day in HR because really it’s an umbrella department that covers a whole range of business functions. There are five main areas:
Initially, HR will involve a lot of admin work, but that’s such an important place to start because it underpins so much of the business. If you don’t have the right bank details for an employee, that person isn’t going to get paid and then they won’t be satisfied which will bring a whole host of further issues. It’s crucial that the admin is done well.
Attention to detail is an absolute must, as is high emotional intelligence — after a short conversation, you need to be able to figure out how someone really feels about an issue, and act quickly to solve their problem. You have to be incredibly trustworthy, because you get access to so much personal data so you have to be responsible and keep things to yourself! And you need to be analytical, constantly on the lookout for ways to save the business money, introduce efficiency, be more productive.
Finally, openness to change is really important — you are often the part of the business that instigates change, so you should be willing to embrace it.
An entry level career in HR can lead to lots of different pathways and progression routes, as listed above. Think carefully about which areas might interest you and be prepared to talk about why!
HR is often the first person a frustrated or upset employee will reach out to, and its easy to have an emotional response. But you have to bear in mind that there are always two sides to every story and its the role of the Human Resources team to mediate between two employees in disagreement. Can you think of a time that you successfuly resolved a conflict? Have some examples at the ready