Careers and Employability Service
Services for current students

Human resources

Two professional women sit at a table together in conversation

Human resources professionals  (HR) are responsible for enabling their organisation to achieve its overall goals and objectives through the employees and people strategy. In practice this means recruiting the best people, retaining and developing the talent within the organisation and overseeing the whole of an employee’s ‘journey’: recruitment; induction; performance; development; and succession.

HR professionals are also often responsible for ensuring employment law is adhered to through processes such as, management of absence, discipline, grievance, flexible working, and redundancy.

Return to the A to Z jobs list

Your next steps

If you have questions about your plans, talk to a member of our team.

Book a careers appointment


Spotlight On: Human Resources

We invited five HR professionals to talk to you about a career in HR.

  • Jess Stanley – HR Business Partner, Experian
  • Fiona Vernon – Senior Manager, Diversity, Equity & Inclusion-International Markets, Walgreen Boots Alliance
  • Matt Burton – Head of Leadership and Talent, DFS Group
  • Saadia Ahmad Khan – Senior Consultant, Executive/Leadership Search, Positive Moves Consulting
  • Rochelle Livingston – Learning Consultant, Solvd Together

Login to Moodle to watch a recording of this event 

Icon of a video playing


Tips and guidance for finding a job 

How do I get a job in HR?

Graduate training schemes featuring HR are not plentiful and can be competitive. Not all large organisations recruit HR trainees but prefer to either develop their own staff or recruit experienced hire. However, graduate training schemes can be found on such sites as Prospects and in the Times Top 100 Graduate Employers (pick up a FREE copy from our offices).

Where graduate schemes are not available accessing roles in HR is usually done through entry-level roles such HR assistant or HR administrator or general administration roles. Companies and organisations of all sizes may have this type of entry level role together with apprenticeships for school leavers who have opted to work and study as opposed to full-time higher education.

The Chartered Institute for Personnel and Development (CIPD) is the professional body that sets standards for HR professionals and accredit HR related qualifications. Accessing roles above entry-level usually requires relevant experience as well as the CIPD or equivalent qualification.


How do I get work experience?

Candidates need to be proactive in seeking out work experience opportunities in HR and may need to widen their search to opportunities in administration in order to gain experience. Larger and medium-sized companies may offer a year in industry or summer placement within a HR department which may lead to a graduate vacancy but these will be competitive.

Check out sites such as:

MyCareer - internships targeted at Nottingham students


Rate My Placement

UK Parliament - offers student sandwich placements in HR

The Nottingham Internship Scheme is also worth considering to gain general administrative and commercial work experience even though it may not necessarily be within human resources.

Recruitment agencies are a good source for temporary and permanent HR and administrative roles.


Where do I find job vacancies?

Graduate training scheme vacancies can be found on the sites previously cited in the above work experience tab. It is worth visiting other job search hubs too.

Civil Service Fast Stream - includes a HR scheme


List of sources of graduate vacancies

People Management, professional journal of the CIPD, includes HR job listings

Personnel Today - job listings as well as news and advice

Increasingly it may be worth considering applying for a CIPD accredited postgraduate course in HR. A number of graduate training schemes will offer the CIPD qualification which takes two years to complete part-time. This qualification can also be taken part-time alongside a HR type role but candidates will usually have had to demonstrate potential within an entry-level position before an employer is willing to sponsor the qualification.

Other qualifications such as occupational psychology provide a foundation in key aspects of HR and are accepted by some employers as an alternative to a HR qualification. However, a masters qualification in another business discipline will not necessarily enhance the chances of entering this profession.

Recruitment advice for HR

Consider the types of skills that employers will be looking for depending on the particular area of HR you are interested in getting into.

Build your work experience to show how you have demonstrated these particular skills regardless of whether you have worked in a HR setting before.

In general employers in HR will be looking to see candidates with a number of transferable skills:

  • administrative
  • communication
  • interpersonal skills
  • organisation
  • team work
  • leadership

Experience gained through student activities is also valued, as is a ‘can do’ type of attitude. International organisations will also be interested in what skills you have gained from a year or semester abroad.


Industry information

What are the hot topics and future developments in HR?

Hot topics in HR are often dictated by changes in legislation as they will be required to plan for any potential impact on the business and to meet legislative requirements. Recent examples include compliance with General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR).

Changes in technology means that many administrative HR activities are now automated, for example, recruitment systems now manage job applications and learning management systems provide an online training environment. As with many professions, technology has to potential to enable organisations to better connect with their employees and potential employees and manage all aspects of the employee journey in a digital environment. Examples of recent initiatives include digital recognition and reward, digital talent management, gamification, and AI driven HR bots.

The main development facing organisations today is Brexit and the potential this has to impact on existing and potential employees. Employers will look to HR to provide advice on managing their employees through any change, where a business relies on migrant workers or considers relocating for example.

HR Magazine - covers HR issues and latest news

People Management, professional journal of the CIPD

Personnel Today -  for the latest news and advice


What industries and sectors do HR professionals work in? 

HR professionals are employed across all sectors from manufacturing and retail to financial services and the public sector. The size and nature of the organisation will shape the work content.

For example, if an organisation is heavily unionised there will be agreements in place which mean that the union have to be consulted on matters such as significant changes to the organisation, pay reviews and policy change. Therefore the HR professional may spend time developing and maintaining positive industrial relations.

In a smaller company they may enjoy greater variety in their day to day work, but may be involved in such tasks as payroll. As the HR professional progresses in their career they will become more involved in the strategic planning aspect of their role.


What roles are available? 

The role of a HR professional varies throughout organisations often depending on their size. In smaller organisations it’s likely that the role of a HR professional will be more generalised. These types of roles are termed HR generalist and encompasses the following job titles:

  • HR assistant
  • HR adviser
  • HR officer
  • HR manager
  • HR business partner

In larger organisations it is likely that HR will be divided into the key areas listed below and there will be HR managers or HR business partners who work to ensure all of the key areas of HR are working to meet the needs of the business.

Key areas of HR:

  • Recruitment and talent – responsible for the hiring and succession of people or ‘talent’ around the business. Communication skills and relationship building are essential in this role as you have to quickly understand what skills a manager is looking to recruit and then communicate this through relevant recruitment channels. Typical job title: recruitment manager; resourcing manager; talent manager.
  • Learning and development – responsible for the learning and development of the workforce through programmes and interventions such as training, eLearning and coaching. Typical job titles: learning and development manager; training manager; E-learning specialist; performance coach.
  • Employee relations – responsible for management of the employment relationship between employees and the organisation in line with employment law (managing policies and processes such as discipline, grievance, redundancy, absence and flexible working.) Typical job title: employee relations specialist, employee relations manager.
  • Pay and reward – from how employees are paid through to the benefits they receive such as bonus, pensions, healthcare, company vehicles etc. (sometimes this area forms part of finance). Typical job title: reward analyst, reward manager

Also see the definition provided by the CIPD and the Prospects website.


What can I do at Nottingham?

There are a number of schemes and programmes available to you during your time at the University of Nottingham. Involvement in these could help you gain valuable experience for a job in HR:

Nottingham Advantage Award

Nottingham Consultancy Challenge

Nottingham Internship Scheme

You could also volunteer for positions of responsibility within a student society which demonstrate an ability to work as part of a team and either organise or persuade other people.

Find out about opportunities through the Students' Union


Please be aware that study abroad, compulsory year abroad, optional placements/internships and integrated year in industry opportunities may change at any time for a number of reasons, including curriculum developments, changes to arrangements with partner universities or placement/industry hosts, travel restrictions or other circumstances outside of the university's control. Every effort will be made to update this information as quickly as possible should a change occur.

Careers and Employability Service

University of Nottingham
Portland Building, Level D
University Park
Nottingham, NG7 2RD

telephone: +44 (0) 115 951 3680
fax: +44 (0) 115 951 3679