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How to get on in HR!

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Stephen Brown

A little while back, we asked several of our HR Director contacts what an early career HR Professional should do. 

The results and the response from the junior HR person we sent it to was so powerful and useful, we thought we’d share it for all junior HR professionals to benefit from.

HR Best Practice

  1. Always be prepared for everything you do, always do your research and read relevant subject material if required.

  2. Look how things have been done before in the organisation, be aware of custom and practice.

  3. The HR Professional builds their credibility and trust by showing capability and courage, to challenge accepted practice, and to offer leaders of an organisation a range of critical perspectives on how to create a sustainable organisational value through people.

  4. Creating win-win solutions for people and the employer will require real strength of character and commitment, it will require creativity for managing and meeting expectations of both the organisation and its employees – you need to think innovatively but always legally.

  5. Never cut corners, processes need to be followed in their entirety to minimise risk.

  6. Always be confidential.

  7. Listen and learn from those who are more experienced.

  8. Attention to detail is a must.

HR Resources

  1. Lexis Nexis Industrial Relations Law Reports (IRLR) – these provide full-text law reports from employment tribunals and employment appeal tribunals.

  2. Butterworths Employment Law Handbook – this contains all the statutory instruments.

  3. Xpert HR.

  4. I subscribe to the Daniel Barnett Website (that is free but he charges for webinars).

  5. ACAS only for statutory codes.

  6. My own HR network of HR professionals, business owners and employment lawyers for second opinions or to discuss HR topics.

  7. Google is always your friend, but make sure your sources are credible and correct.

  8. ExpertHR often offer free trials, great for downloading documents, policies etc.

  9. HR Ninjas FB group – a mine of information, place to ask questions etc.

  10. Partner with a reputable recruiter, who can find the people who make a real difference to the organisation.


  1. I look out for any local employment law run by solicitors or reputable consultancies.

  2. Get in with some HR groups such as CIPD, do your networking, sign up for webinars on different topics.

How to get on in HR

  1. You do not have to have a qualification in HR to get into HR but it helps.  Often individuals will join a company to deal with administration but then over time the role will pick up some HR support work. 

  2. If you do intend to make a career for yourself in HR make sure that you are qualified (CIPD) but also study further for a Masters in an HR specialism or employment law.

  3. Determine which part of the HR world you want to operate in such as:

      • Full Generalist Role

      • Employee Relations Specialist

      • Employee Engagement

      • Reward and Remuneration

      • Learning and Development  

  1. This may take a bit of time to work through so always start with a generalist role, unless you have a particular passion for Learning and Development for example.

  2. Get yourself a mentor.

  3. Ideally start out in an organisation where you are part of an HR Department before taking on a standalone role.

  4. Build yourself a network of HR support from fellow professionals who you can use to bounce ideas off.

  5. Get involved in wider business projects that are not just about HR, it’s essential you get your business brain engaged. 

  6. It is critical that you are commercially aware and pragmatic and above all have a can-do approach.

  7. The decisions you take or advice you give may be tested in an employment tribunal, so always make sure you keep good written records, be thorough and always pay attention to detail.

  8. Never lose your ‘human’! Always be mindful of your employee’s situation.

  9. Be respectful at all times.

  10. You are not the police. Sometimes situations will fall out of policy, it’s not always black and white or textbook.

  11. You will only learn through situations, you can’t expect to know everything and there is no fast track when it comes to HR.

  12. If in doubt, get legal advice.

  13. Never underestimate people!

To make it in the long run you need to demonstrate, adaptability, ambition and confidence, business acumen and an entrepreneurial approach, curiosity and the courage to challenge, discretion and trustworthiness, emotional intelligence, excellent communication and interpersonal skills, organisational skills and the ability to multi-task, thinking strategically, the ability to work to deadlines and to meet targets and that you can work as part of a team.

If all else fails please keep your sense of humour, you won’t die if you get a decision wrong, learn from it and move on.

Euro Projects Recruitment aims to provide the most trusted, professional and friendly, quality recruitment service to clients and candidates and has been supporting HR professionals to find the right people for their organisation for nearly 30 years.

Contact us with your insights on a career in HR, or to discuss how we can assist your organisation find people with the cultural match as well as expertise.


Telephone: 01530 833825

Our thanks go to Eddie Smith, Partner at EP Executive Search, Nick Peach HR Consultant at Euro Projects HR and the HR Directors dedicated to their profession we work with.