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HR & recruitment Career Pathways For School Leavers

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Overview

The HR & recruitment industry is all about making sure that the best people are recruited for jobs and that any legal or personal problems that arise while in the workplace are dealt with.

As this industry is centred on people, those that work in this area will need to be excellent communicators, compassionate and respectful of others whilst being aware of the company’s corporate objectives.

Roles that you can pursue within this industry include:

  • Human resources officer

  • Training manager

  • Training officer

  • Compliance officer

  • Recruitment consultant

  • Resourcer

Through these you could be working in areas such as change management, health and safety, internal training and headhunting.

As a recruiter, you will work to match an individual to a specific job based on their skill-set and experience. In some cases, you will coach candidates all the way through to interview. There’s a lot of money to be made in recruitment agency through earning commissions based on the number of candidates that you place.

An in-house recruitment team means that you work solely to recruit for a single company, rather than having a client base like in an agency. An in-house team will be more hands-on and involved in the shortlisting of CVs and the organisation of interviews and/or assessment days. You will also likely be involved with training internal staff and helping to make the workforce of your company the best that it can be.

Skills

Your communication and teamwork skills need to be very strong to work in this industry in order to manage the needs and expectations of your managers and other employees. Part of this industry is dealing with conflict, so you will always need to maintain a high level of professionalism and be impartial in these situations.

All these skills apply both to recruiters working in-house and all others across the HR spectrum. You will also benefit from an understanding of wider business functioning and the essentials of maintaining a happy workforce.

To work in an agency you’ll need to be target-driven and thrive in a competitive environment. In this role you’ll likely also face a lot of knock-backs and rejections, so you need to have a thick skin!

Some of the skills that HR recruiters might look for are:

- Ability to Work Under Pressure
- Communication
- Organisation
- Presentation Skills
- Teamwork

Progression opportunities

The career progression in HR is quite unanimous across the board, although the job title may vary slightly between companies. Usually you will begin as a HR assistant, then progress to a HR officer before becoming a senior HR officer, then a HR manager and eventually a director.

HR careers can also progress quite quickly (hooray!) with professionals usually being ready for the next step up after a couple of years in their role. This is great news for those who are willing to put the work in and want to work their way up quickly.

Recruitment agencies have a slightly different structure - you’ll start off your career as a resourcer, then progressing to a recruitment consultant when you have learned the ropes. After some experience you can progress to a senior recruitment consultant and eventually a manager.

You should be in a position to apply for resourcer or HR assistant roles after you complete your apprenticeship, if this is the route you decide to go down.

Career development

If you’ve completed an apprenticeship in this area, you could consider going on to university afterwards in order to increase your professional standing.

Although HR and recruitment are similar industries, you will likely be required to undergo further training depending on which route you choose to take - this is because the skill-sets and knowledge they require differ slightly.

In recruitment training you’ll learn techniques and issues to be aware of in headhunting, psychometric assessments, negotiation and employment law.

Similar areas of training are required in HR and you can also work towards a recognised qualification in counselling, employee satisfaction, recruitment and staffing or legal compliance.

Professional qualifications, which you might be able to take whilst working, are run by the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD) and the Recruitment & Employment Confederation (REC). Your employer might agree to support you in gaining these qualifications.

Types of jobs in HR & recruitment

Earning potential

As an apprentice, you’ll earn a minimum of £3.70 per hour if you’re under 19 or in the first year of your apprenticeship, or the National Minimum Wage if you’re over 19. This works out at around £150 - £240 per week.

When starting out in the industry (even after your apprenticeship) your wage is likely to be modest, but due to the responsibilities placed upon you in HR your salary is likely to rise relatively quickly. In recruitment, commission-based pay structures mean that the pay you take home is likely to be higher than your basic salary.

HR Managers are paid well, with some paid over £100,000 after only a few years in the role. This payoff comes with experience, though – your salary within an HR department is likely to start at around £24,000, going up to £30,000 relatively quickly and progressing from there.

Here are the average salaries for some HR roles:
HR administrator – £19,611
HR assistant – £20,147
HR officer – £24,460
HR advisor – £26,808
HR manager – £35,423
HR business partner – £40,389
HR director – £68,281

As a resourcer, the title you are likely to start with as a graduate in a recruitment agency, you may begin on around £16,000, while more experienced recruitment consultants may be on around £30,000. On top of this, you may be able to earn commission if you exceed your targets. For many, this is a big draw to the industry because you could see your basic wage double if you perform well.

Qualification requirements & subjects to study

To get a job in this sector as a school leaver, it’s a good idea to undertake a vocational qualification. A diploma, certificate or short course can give you the practical skills you need to get a job in either recruitment or HR. Professional organisations such as the The Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD), as well as colleges, can provide these qualifications.

Alternatively, you could look at apprenticeships in recruitment or HR. Apprenticeships will see you studying and working for a company at the same time. You will work alongside experienced staff and will have one day off per week to study, usually at a local technical college or equivalent. This can be a great route for those who know what they want to do early, and don’t want to burden themselves with the time and debt of university.

Industry Bodies

The Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD)
The British Institute of Recruiters
HR Society
London HR Connection
The Recruitment and Employment Federation
Association of Professional Recruitment Consultants