In HR, many of us spend years studying to build up our knowledge but when we finally tick the “I have a CIPD qualification” box, does this mean we are ready for the real deal?

Short answer, no.

I have to admit, I was a little naïve in my understanding of what it meant to work in HR. I always enjoyed working with people and have a background in business and psychology, so once I got my CIPD I assumed working in HR would be an easy fit. Although my theoretical knowledge helped, it didn’t take me long to realise that experience is what makes the HR world go round. So, I made it my mission to transition from being book smart to street smart by getting as much exposure and hands-on experience as possible.

Keep asking questions, be inquisitive, build a deeper understanding of the business, and shadow your manager at as many meetings as possible

My not so Grand Entrance into HR

Entry-level HR is no walk in the park. We’re inundated with administrative tasks as well as our own workload and, let’s face it, the work that no one else wants to do. So, how can we juggle all of that and get the exposure we need to climb the career ladder? There’s no easy answer – it requires being super-efficient, putting in extra hours and demanding the exposure from our superiors.

My first consultancy experience was not as I thought it would be… In the beginning there was almost no interaction with clients; everything was done via email. I’m pretty sure they thought I was a robot. Things slowly improved when I changed my approach – I glued myself to my HR Manager’s hip so that when she went to client meetings she was forced to take me along!

Like many administrators, it took me a while to see the opportunity to learn in these mundane tasks – I was being exposed to real employee relations and had an influence on how people engage and perform within the business. Every contract, variation letter and hearing notes we draft give us a peek into the life of our superiors. But, what most people don’t do is ask questions.

What? Why? When? How?

How many times have we drafted disciplinary notes and not actually requested details of the case? We get so busy churning out work that we forget to stop and understand the meaning behind what we do… How did the situation get to this point and how was the outcome decided upon?

In today’s fast-paced and ever-changing business environment, HR is faced with new and complex challenges on a daily basis. The only way we can keep up and build our experience is to be involved… Keep asking questions, be inquisitive, build a deeper understanding of the business, and shadow your manager at as many meetings as possible.  Remember to add the human touch and be empathetic whilst remaining objective – HR is not just about administration of policies and procedures.

This is the only way we can make the move from being book smart to being an all-rounder, generalist HR professional.

Gaining HR experience

Career Summary

Yoshina Boodhoo is the HR Advisor at Tassic. She has a BSc Business and Psychology and a MSc Human Resources Management and Business. Career began as an Events Coordinator whilst seeking an opportunity in HR. She then transitioned into a HR Coordinator role prior to joining Tassic.