Career Transitions: 4 Tips for Entering HR from Other Fields

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Are you at the point in your career where you’re now looking for a change? Do you feel like it’s time for you to transition into a new career? Have you been considering kickstarting an HR career for some time now?

In this blog, we explore the best tips for a successful transition into the HR industry, along with what you should expect during your career change.

What does an HR career look like? 

First things first, before deciding to make the leap and transfer over to a new career, it’s vital to understand what that role looks like and what the day-to-day tasks involve. 

HR professionals are usually responsible for maintaining a harmonious balance between employees and the organisation they work for. Essentially, HR professionals are responsible for managing the organisation’s human capital, which often includes tasks such as:

  • Recruitment
  • Onboarding
  • Interviewing 
  • Handling the organisation’s payroll and benefits. 

Oftentimes their role will also involve conflict and dispute resolution, in order to upkeep a healthy relationship between employees, and the organisation as a whole, while also organising and leading the company's social training events.

If you’re passionate about transitioning to an HR career, then keep reading to find out how to make this transition as smooth as possible, to ultimately help you find your dream job and excel in it. 

Professions that transfer well into HR

Often, different roles and industries have similar sets of skills to those of an HR professional, so it’s much easier to transfer over to HR from those fields. According to HRCI’s ‘The State of HR Skills and Education 2018’ report, only 40% of current HR professionals have a university education in Human Resource Management. 

As a big part of working in HR obviously involves working with humans, having experience in a customer service job not only will reflect positively to employers, but also means that you enjoy social interaction, whether that would be with customers or your colleagues. So chances are, if you have a background in customer service jobs, you would thrive in an HR career. Other fields that could transfer well into HR also include:

  • Business administration/management
  • Marketing
  • PR/Communications
  • Education
  • Psychology
  • Economics/finance
  • Other social sciences.

1) Identify your transferable skills 

Regardless of what industry you used to work in, it’s likely you’ve gained a significant number of skills which quite possibly correlate to those of an HR professional. When you’re building your CV, gearing for a career change like this one, it's important to highlight all the skills you have gained in your previous roles, which would also be expected from a professional in the industry you’re looking to get into. 

You might have helped with the recruiting and onboarding process in your previous role, or had to handle budgeting and administration in a project you were involved at some point. Including that in your CV gives your future employers a scope of the tasks you have previously handled, outside your normal duties, with success, suggesting that you’d be able to also effectively perform them in an HR relevant role. 

Then, you can try to explain in your cover letter how the experience has helped you identify your passion for HR, providing  a few more details about any challenges you faced and how you managed to overcome them, or alternatively be prepared to discuss these in an interview. 

Other transferable skills may also include: problem solving, active listening, analytical thinking, communication, positive relationship building and adaptability.  

2) Get HR certified  

Usually large organisations seek candidates who are certified, at every level of HR, so gaining an industry accredited certification can set you apart from other potential candidates and get your foot through the door quicker. 

HR certifications are a great option for both career starters and changers as they help you build up your industry knowledge, as well as allow you to gain further skills you can later apply to your new career in order to succeed. Not only that, but it also demonstrates to employers your ability to learn, adapt and grow in your career journey, along with your commitment and passion towards an HR career. 

Perhaps one of the best and most popular HR qualifications are those of the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD), considered the gold standard in HR training. 

CIPD Human Resources courses are globally recognised and highly sought after by employers, so having one of these qualifications on your CV will undoubtedly open doors for you in the people's profession. Available for every stage of your professional career, from industry newcomers to seasoned professionals, CIPD offers qualifications for everybody!

Not sure which CIPD Level is right for you? In this blog we provide a full breakdown of the course content, duration, exams and cost of all CIPD HR courses we offer, to help make your decision easier. 

3) Find an HR internship 

Internships are a great way to attain a full-time role in the industry you’re passionate about and they tend to be a good option for career starters and changers with limited or no experience in the field. 

Internships can be extensive and they allow you to tap into different aspects of a role, helping you understand the day-to-day task the role involves, learn while you apply your skills and knowledge, and identify which area of HR you’d best fit in. Not only that but internships are the perfect scenario where your mistakes will reinforce your knowledge and help you grow, because let’s face it, mistakes are the best way to learn!

While a guaranteed way to secure an HR internship is having attained a bachelor university degree in either communications, human resources or business management, it’s not the only pathway to an internship. 

Many companies now prioritise demonstrable work experience when hiring interns, whether that is HR specific experience or not, just as long as candidates can demonstrate HR-relevant transferable skills, so that managers can train and integrate candidates into their HR teams themselves. 

Take advantage of this handy tool and find out all your options for internship applications in the UK. 

4) Volunteer in your current role

While internships, as discussed, can be a great chance to expand your knowledge and skills in HR to ultimately secure a full-time position in it, it can also be a very overwhelming and near impossible thing to do, especially if you’re already in full-time employment. And considering granted internships don’t pay as well as permanent jobs do, it’s no wonder why you may be reluctant to let go of your job and apply for an internship instead, in this day and age. 

Well, before you actually take the step to change your career altogether, perhaps a good idea would be to volunteer in your current organisation to lead new HR initiatives, helping boost your skills and get a taste of what an HR role looks like.

First, try to reflect on things such as social issues, productivity, efficiency, inclusion etc. in your workplace that you feel passionate about, and devise plans and workshops to help resolve the issues identified. Once you’ve done that, you can run your plans past your organisation’s HR manager for professional advice and guidance on how to improve and put your plan into action.

And most importantly, don’t forget to mention this in your CV to showcase to future employers the skills gained through the initiative, along with your commitment, passion and dedication to HR.


Changing a career isn’t the easiest decision to take, as it will take time and effort to transition your knowledge and skills over to the HR industry. However, if you’re passionate about transitioning over to HR, following the tips highlighted above will help get you prepared for the transition and new role all together. But remember that it’s never too late for a career change.


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