I started my career in HR by taking on a maternity cover position while studying for a degree in HR. I was working in retail and had got to know the regulars, occasionally discussing my career aspirations with them. It was a stroke of luck that one customer had a business looking for HR maternity cover. I was then with that company for two-and-a-half years, so you could say networking pays off.
The biggest issues on the horizon for HR are recruitment and retention. These areas are more pertinent than ever in the current climate. Given the new trend of ‘job-hopping’ it’s so important for businesses to have solid recruitment and retention strategies in place, while also having a good understanding of workforce planning to mitigate staff turnover. Not only has new technology enabled greater exposure for vacancies and made applying for jobs incredibly easy (in most cases), people are also focusing on multiple streams of income (the side hustle), meaning changing their main source of employment isn’t the risk it once was.
I’ve recently discovered Alison Colley’s The Employment Law & HR Podcast. She provides a fantastic overview of employment law changes, good practice, and upcoming issues for HR professionals (such as Brexit).
My biggest surprise about working in HR has been the mentality that HR needs to take a side. I’ve come across managers who feel HR favours either employees or the employer. But HR shouldn’t be viewed that way; we need to emphasise that our focus is what is right and championing good working relationships.
I wish I’d known that it is OK to not know every area of HR within the first couple of years. Imposter syndrome is common and should be seen as a positive thing – you can reflect on what you need to develop so you can feel more confident.
My advice to others just starting out would be to learn as much as possible. HR is such a wide-ranging career path and the more exposure you get to different areas the better. Certain areas of HR are particularly complex, such as employment law, but there is so much material available nowadays.
Matthew Trussler is HR business partner at Eljays44
This piece appears in the December 2019 print issue. Subscribe today to have all our latest articles delivered right to your desk
If you would like to be featured in our future leader column please get in touch