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7 Essential Strategies to Get Your First Entry-Level HR Job

This list highlights seven strategies for landing and excelling at your first entry-level HR job

Nick Schurk

by Nick Schurk - June 13th, 2023


Starting your career journey in human resources can be exhilarating but also daunting. Especially when you're seeking those crucial entry-level HR jobs, there's much to learn and many paths to explore. 

To help you plan your path, we've sought the guidance of accomplished HR professionals and career gurus. This curated list of expert advice highlights seven strategies for landing and excelling at your first entry-level HR job. They'll help you secure a position and set you on the path to thriving in your HR career.

Stay Informed on HR Trends

In addition to staying updated on HR laws and regulations, it's essential for someone seeking their first entry-level position in HR to be on top of HR trends and understand the needs and expectations of workers and employees.

For example, understanding how to conciliate employers' business needs with workers' demands for more work-life balance, employee well-being, flexibility, and DEI in the workplace is vital.

As an entry-level HR professional, you should work to gain a deeper understanding of these issues and familiarize yourself with flexible work arrangements, wellness programs, and employee engagement initiatives. Stay informed about the latest research on workplace mental health and implement strategies that prioritize employee well-being.

You can do this by joining professional HR associations, attending conferences and seminars, regularly participating in online courses, and following HR-focused websites and active HR professionals on LinkedIn.

Samuel Johns, CPRW and Career Counselor, Resume Genius

Build Relationships

As a recent graduate, one of the most important things you need to do is network and build relationships with different people in the industry. Ensure that you are visible and vocal as a professional in the HR industry. Connecting with other HR professionals can increase your chances of being offered a job when a vacancy arises.

Max Wesman, Chief Operating Officer, GoodHire

Foster Cross-Functional Partnerships

Focus on building strong partnerships, particularly with other support functions. Regardless of your role within HR, knowing who to approach for assistance outside of HR is crucial. 

Make an effort to establish connections and collaborate with colleagues in other departments. Understand their roles, challenges, and how HR can support their needs. Building relationships and offering assistance whenever possible creates a foundation of mutual support and cooperation. When you help others, they are more likely to reciprocate and provide assistance when you need it.

Cross-functional partnerships are crucial to success in HR. They enable you to navigate complex issues that require input from different functions and ensure a holistic approach to problem-solving. Strong partnerships foster effective communication, facilitate smoother processes, and enhance organizational effectiveness.

Kimberley Tyler-Smith, VP of Strategy and Growth, Resume Worded

Seek Mentorship from HR Leaders

One of the most critical actions someone can take to break into HR is to find an HR leader to learn from. Look at your network (both personal and professional) and see if you know someone who can serve as a mentor to you. 

Many higher-level professionals are willing to help—you just have to ask. Soak up their knowledge and experience. They will likely even help connect you to new opportunities.

Kelli Anderson, Career Coach, Resume Seed

Prioritize Continuous Learning

My main advice would be not to feel pressured and that you are not expected to know everything from your senior leadership.

Working in HR is a process of evolving and becoming ingrained with a company, so as long as you approach day-to-day life like a sponge, soaking up information, you'll be doing what you need to learn on the job.

Nicky Walker, Head of HR, Connect Communications

Embrace Volunteering and Training

At this stage, keeping an open mind to volunteering and training is essential. This is a rare opportunity to discover specific skills, interests, and people willing to nurture for FREE. I started volunteering in an HR consulting firm before my breakthrough into my first role. I learned and developed my areas of strength and interest within that short time. Be open-minded to all possibilities.

'Dolapo Adeniji, Talent Acquisition Specialist, Sabi

Assess Your Role and Network

Human resources personnel are skilled organizers motivated to see others succeed; take advantage of these traits. Don't stop building your network! Given the vast variations in HR practices across organizations, understanding how a company operates might be crucial to gaining entry.

Therefore, the question of how to network must be raised. Some solutions may seem obvious; for example, you may contact your alumni network, attend school events, or join professional organizations.

Don't act as if you're doing something when you're not. Human Resources may stick their noses where they don't belong because they believe they must defend their existence. Examine the things you should and should not be doing with a critical eye.

Aleksandar Ginovski, Career Expert, Resume Expert, and Product Manager, Enhancv

Final Thoughts

As you work towards your first position in HR, remember that every professional journey comes with unique challenges and rewards. But armed with the wisdom shared by our seasoned HR professionals and guided by a sense of curiosity and the will to grow, you are well-equipped to navigate these early stages of your HR career. 

Embrace each step, each learning opportunity, and each connection made along the way. Know that you are capable, prepared, and on the path to making a meaningful impact in HR!

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