How to Work Your Way Up in HR

HR is a critical department in any organisation, managing everything from recruitment to employee relations to compliance. A career in HR can be rewarding and offer a wealth of opportunities for advancement, provided you’re willing to put in the work and hone the necessary skills. Below is a comprehensive guide on working your way up in the HR field. If, on the other hand, you need to recruit new HR personnel for your organisation, consider enlisting the help of HR recruitment consultants.

Understand the Basics of HR

Start with a solid understanding of the basic functions of human resources, which include but are not limited to recruitment, payroll, employee benefits, employee relations, performance management, and legal compliance. Familiarise yourself with employment laws and regulations, as these will form the backbone of much of your decision-making.

Gain the Right Qualifications

While it’s possible to enter HR roles without a degree, having relevant qualifications can give you an edge. Consider a bachelor’s degree in Human Resources Management or a related field such as business administration. Pursuing a master’s degree, such as an MBA with a focus on HR, can be valuable for higher-level positions.

Professional certifications from recognised HR organisations can also enhance your resume. In the UK, qualifications from the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD) are highly regarded.

Acquire Practical Experience

Entry-level positions in HR, such as HR Assistant or Coordinator, can provide you with practical experience in the nuts and bolts of the department’s operations. Use these positions to learn as much as possible about the different areas of HR. Hands-on experience is invaluable and will serve you as you climb the career ladder.

Develop Essential HR Skills

An effective HR professional needs a variety of soft and hard skills, including excellent interpersonal and communication abilities, negotiation and influencing skills, problem-solving, and the capacity to handle sensitive information discreetly. Developing a knack for strategic thinking and understanding business operations beyond HR can also be vital.

Network Strategically

Networking is key in any career progression, and HR is no exception. Attend professional conferences, local HR meetups, and seminars to connect with peers and industry leaders. Don’t overlook the importance of building a strong internal network within your own organisation, too.

Specialise or Diversify

You might choose to specialise in a particular HR area like talent management, compensation and benefits, or employee relations. Alternatively, gaining broad experience across various HR functions can prove beneficial. Assess the needs of the businesses you wish to work for and adjust your career plan accordingly.

Stay Updated with HR Trends

HR is an evolving field, with ongoing changes in workforce dynamics, technology, and legislation. Stay current with these changes by reading industry-related publications, attending workshops, and being active in professional HR communities.

Be Results-Oriented

Understand that at the end of the day, HR supports the business. Focus on creating measurable results that contribute to the organisation’s success. Whether it’s through streamlining hiring processes, developing impactful training programs, or improving employee engagement, show how your work in HR positively affects the overall business.

Seek Mentoring and Professional Development Opportunities

Mentoring can play a crucial role in your professional growth. Seek out a mentor within the HR field who can provide guidance, share their experiences, and help you navigate your career path.

Also, take advantage of professional development opportunities. Many organisations offer training programs, or you may need to seek them out externally. Continuous learning is vital in a field as complex and dynamic as HR.

Demonstrate Leadership Potential

If you aspire to senior HR roles, showing leadership capability is essential. This includes understanding and contributing to the organisation’s strategy, exhibiting decision-making confidence, and people management.


Building a successful career in HR requires dedication, strategic career planning, and a continuous drive for learning and development. By gaining the right experience, staying current with industry trends, and demonstrating your business impact, you can work your way up and thrive in the diverse and dynamic field of Human Resources.