How to start your Career in Human Resources

Three of every ten graduates from Humanities alone in Nigeria want a career in human resources.  This could be due to the relevance of the course of their discipline to human being, or because of the prestige that comes with being in charge of hiring and firing others (as is the popular conception of HR roles)

In this piece, I will be navigating through the steps to starting a career in HR, the specializations in HR, and the skills required for entry-level jobs in Human resources.

Steps to Starting a career in Human Resources

Unlike many professions, Career in human resources has less interest in the course of study, though those who studied Human Resources and related courses could leverage on the knowledge from the discipline to rise faster, a career in human resources is not only for those who studied Human Resources, Industrial Relation or Management Information System.

Here are the beginners’ steps for starting a career in human resources in Nigeria

Enroll for Professional HR Courses                      

A faster route to start a career in Human Resources is through certifications that qualify you for more entry-level HR jobs.

Chartered Institute of Personnel Management is widely recognized in the HR space as the major HR certification institute in Nigeria, and it is expected of any young graduate who’s interested in HR profession to register for CIPMN examination to become an associate of the institute.

There are quite a lot of  HR Certification Courses globally which are equally reputable and acceptable in Nigerian HR space, on this list includes International Human Resources Certification Institute (IHRCI), Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD)Society for Human Resources Management (SHRM) among others.

Completing the CIPM Certification could take up to two years for graduates as there are at least three diets to be completed.  IHRCI and others do not take up to that but might require some level of experience in human resources

Hone Your Skills Set

Proficiency of MS Office, Cloud computing, Knowledge of HR Software, and soft skills like communication and presentation skills, Teamwork, leadership, and interpersonal skills are very vital to HR Profession. A quality way to convince a prospective recruiter that you are ready for a career in human resources is to have mastered every skill that is relevant to the position.

Subscribe to Professional Mentorship

Better than a year of search is a day with a great mentor.

Mentorship is as important to your HR aspiration as it is important to life generally. A Human Resource mentor would help to shape your aspiration, guide you through the rudiments for a successful HR career, and could help to build a vast network of HR practitioners.

Keep up with the Trend in the HR Space

Make it a point of duty to follow events and happenings in the Human Resource World, connect with practitioners, and attend HR sessions virtually and physically. You can achieve this by joining HR groups on LinkedIn, signing up for newsletters on some relevant HR Institute websites, and through the HR practitioners on your network.

Keeping up with trends in HR would sharpen your vision, and get you informed enough to fit into the HR rigour.

Intern in Human Resources       

Experience is important to a career in HR, you need to continue applying for internship opportunities in human resources to acquire the real experience in the HR department.

Positions like Human Resources Intern, Human Resources Trainee, Human Resources Assistant are also positions you can try shooting at with your knowledge in human resources management and skills relevant to the industry.

With this experience, you can now apply for more human resources jobs that require less experience.

Specializations in the Human Resources Profession

More often, starting a career in human resources does not come with specialization, what is common is HR generalist that perform all human resource operations in the organization. But as your rise through the ranks, you could focus on a specific area of HR depending on your professional interest, experience, and subsequent  aspirations

Specializations in HR

  • People Resourcing
  • Learning and Development
  • Benefits and Compensation
  • Organization Design and Development

People Resourcing

This is the aspect that fascinates most of the new entrants. It is interested in sourcing, recruiting, and placing people on roles.

It deals with how people are hired.

Popular People Resourcing Job Titles

  • Recruiter
  • Recruitment Officer/Manager/Specialist
  • Talent Officer/Manager/Specialist
  • Acquisition Specialist/Manager

Learning and Development

This specialty is interested in evaluating employee’s competence needs and is saddled with training, capacity development and also prepares the organization for innovations and technology when there is a need for it.

Popular Learning and Development Job Titles

  • Training Coordinator/Manager/Consultant
  • L & D Manager/ Specialist
  • LMS Analyst/ Specialist/Consultant

Benefits and Compensation 

This has to do with job evaluation, allocation, and management of employee’s benefits including salaries, allowances, pensions, and other incentives.

Popular titles for Benefit and Compensation Specialization

  • Benefit and Compensation Officer
  • Payroll Analyst/ Manager/ Administrator
  • Benefits Analyst/ Manager/Specialist
  • Worker Compensation Manager

Organization Design and Development

This specialty functions in terms of daily human resources function within the organization, They design the job roles, regulate the conditions of work, manage the organizational culture,  ensure compliance to rules and operational guidelines, promote the business of the organization and manage change within the organization.

Popular Organizational Design and Development Job Titles 

  • Change Manager/ Change Management Specialist
  • Human Resources Business Partner
  • Human Resources Manager/ Officer
  • Human Resources Project Manager
  • Internal Control Officer
  • Compliance Officer
  • Performance Manager

Skills Required for Human Resources Jobs

Unlike before, HR entry-level jobs now require some technical skills, as they have been found to make working in human resources space easier, and HR Managers would be more than willing to employ you if you possess the skills that would make you a valuable addition to their team.

Proficiency of MS Office

Strong ability to work with Microsoft word, excel, PowerPoint and Access are quite important to entry-level HR jobs. MS Excel especially is considered a vital tool for the new entrant in modern human resources practices since it is useful for almost all rudimentary HR duties.

Being able to showcase how you have used these skills on your CV  could add to your eligibility for HR intern or trainee jobs.

Knowledge of HR Specific Software

Learning Management System, Talent Management, Human Resources Information System, Applicant Tracking System are some of the vital core HR software you should know about.

This software is not always required if you are working in a small organization or at the early stage of your HR career, but you can always leverage that knowledge to attract better opportunities likewise to transform your organization.

Soft skills

Communication, leadership, interpersonal, emotional intelligence, and teamwork are soft skills important to both young and old HR practitioners as the underlining subject of human resources is the human being.

Getting people to give their bests, achieving results with people, and managing groups involves being able to understand their emotions, communicate goals and aspirations to them while posing as worthy of emulation.

On a final note,

Human resources is not a static profession, for you to be great in that career, you need to continue adding to your competences, get a post-graduate degree in Human Resource Specialty,  upgrade your membership status in human resources bodies, enroll to join another human resources body, and participate in more human resources sessions.