Most Wanted: Human Resources Careers

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Popular Human Resource careers offer graduates much more than hiring and firing.

Data released by shows Human Resources is the fifth most popular career choice for graduates, with 21% of users interested in a career in HR. The margin between the top five choices is small, with Management in first at 29%, followed closely by Marketing (28%), Banking (24%) and Finance (22%).

Kirstie Anderson started her career as an HR Administrator with commercial property consultancy CBRE after studying at Sheffield Hallam University. She is now an HR Assistant at international law firm Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer. Kirstie attributes the sector's popularity to the variety it offers.

"There are so many different paths available when starting a career in Human Resources," she says.

"At Administrator or Assistant level you get an oversight on all aspects of Human Resources which is a good starting point. You will begin to realise which areas interest you that you could potentially specialise in."

For Kirstie, who always knew she wanted to work in HR, the range of opportunities was one of the biggest attractions.

"I am involved in the complete 360 of an employee's lifecycle. The scope is fantastic and it leaves me with the option to move around functions if there is an area I want to pursue."

Graduates in Human Resources work across different industries and businesses, and Kirstie says it is common for applicants to come from a range of degree backgrounds.

"I undertook a BA in Business and HR Management with a placement year. My first two years were broad business modules but my final year was HR specific," she says.

"But there are people in HR from Business Management or Psychology backgrounds. Quite a few people have done unrelated degrees but have done a Master's in Human Resources."

Kirstie recommends graduates interested in HR get experience as soon as they can, as the sector is extremely competitive for new starters.

"Graduates can struggle to get their foot in the door without any experience. I would encourage doing a placement, work experience or internship," she says.

"Most employers want their prospective candidates to be Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD) qualified-but it's not a must. Anything employment law-related is also a huge bonus."

Kirstie warns graduates not to count recruitment work as Human Resources experience.

"One of the worst mistakes graduates can make is thinking work at a recruitment consultancy is an HR role-it's sales, not Human Resources!"

Graduate-level roles in HR require employees to work their way up the career ladder, and Kirstie advises applicants to ensure their basic skills are ready for the challenge.

"Graduates should make sure their administration skills are up to scratch, as entry-level HR jobs are quite admin focused."

"Gain as much experience at Administrator or Assistant level as possible-lead projects and shadow HR Managers or Employment lawyers as making the jump to the next level can be hard. There is an invisible red tape between assistants and advisors so the work content can be limited."

It may not come as a surprise that careers in Human Resources are people-focused, but Kirstie says there is a lot more on offer.

"A Human Resources career can be so varied and exciting. Don't just think it will be hiring and firing-there is a lot more to Human Resources than meets the eye."