Building a career in HR

by 14 Jun 2012

We all remember the challenge of getting our first job and the impact a great mentor had on our development. With the pressures of building a career in modern HR, good advice from a mentor and a strategic approach to career development is more essential than ever.
At The Next Step we speak to a large number of HR professionals every day and within The Next Gen division we are in constant contact with early and intermediate career professionals. In speaking with our network we are constantly hearing that one of the key factors that motivates a candidate to accept a new role is the opportunity to gain a great mentor and, in turn, future career development.

As part of our efforts to analyse and understand the market we ran the 2012 Global HR Viewpoint Survey of nearly 3,000 HR professionals of all levels from across Australia/NZ, Asia and the UK/Europe. This research provides current insights into the thoughts, opinions and expectations of HR professionals with regards to their career aspirations and the HR function itself, including mentoring and career development.

The effects

It was a concern to note that in Australia only 10% of respondents to the HR Viewpoint Survey indicated they entered the profession via an HR Graduate Program. This percentage is lower still in the early career space. Furthermore, we have seen a continued decline in Graduate Programs offered by the large corporates that traditionally provided structured learning environments that fostered and encouraged many mentoring relationships. Graduate Programs would encourage seeking out mentors from within HR as well as the broader business, which makes for particularly beneficial mentoring relationships. We advise early career professionals to utilise their networks and establish contacts to in order to develop their own relationships with potential mentors.

We recognise that HR candidates are a highly educated group, with 87% of respondents having a tertiary qualification. Despite this figure, early career HR professionals are finding it harder than ever to land the first role in their HR career. We are seeing extremely intelligent applicants with excellent theoretical knowledge but often without the practical application to relate HR principles to real world business objectives. We are seeing graduates having success by actively seeking out internship opportunities to make this transition easier.

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