Human Resources & Recruitment

Human Resources & Recruitment

Human resources and recruitment and  are increasingly viewed as distinct industries with related areas of work. Both are growing considerably and have seen significant changes over the past decade. These changes have helped HR to shed its former image as a welfare or administrative role, and it is now recognised as a key function in driving business forward and influencing business strategy.

Companies recognise the value and importance of their HR functions and the need to recruit and retain the best workforce. Therefore, organisations are employing graduates with key skills into HR roles, which is a very popular and highly competitive sector.

Recruitment is becoming an increasingly significant employment choice for many graduates.  Recruitment roles may be ‘in-house’, managing the recruitment needs of an organisation, or in a consultancy/agency handling recruitment for a range of clients.

Types of Jobs

HR is a general term which can encompass the following specialisms:

  • Equality and diversity
  • Recruitment and selection
  • Graduate recruitment
  • Occupational health
  • Learning and development
  • Employment law specialists
  • Remuneration and benefits
  • Change management

Professionals will work as either Generalists, with responsibility for a number of areas (include any of the above plus sickness/absence and disciplinary/grievance issues), or will concentrate on one specific aspect depending on the organisation and the way the HR function is set up. Many HR functions in larger organisations have been outsourced.

Roles in recruitment consultancies include:

  • Resourcer – researching and sourcing applicants for vacancies
  • Recruitment consultant/account manager – responsible for sourcing and matching candidates to jobs in their client companies.
  • Headhunter/search executives – working on senior roles for client companies, sourcing candidates by mapping their career and cold calling them about jobs.

Entry Points and Qualifications/Further Study

As a graduate, there are three distinct avenues open to you:

  • Graduate HR Training Scheme – an employed role, usually with a major employer. Degree discipline is frequently unimportant as you are recruited for your potential and your interest in a career in HR. Workplace skills and competencies are acquired on the job, with professional qualifications taken at an early stage in your career.
  • Further Study Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development – the recognised qualification across the UK.  Some graduates opt for this year of vocational postgraduate study prior to applying for their first role in HR.  The course is intensive, provides you with the necessary skill set to embark upon your first HR job and includes a short unpaid work placement within a company.  This option is particularly useful for graduates who are keen to work in environments that do not offer extensive training schemes, such as charities.  Also, regardless of sector, it stamps a commitment to HR firmly onto your CV. Other postgraduate courses include an MSc in Human Resource Management accredited by the CIPD (check with individual universities before applying) and the Recruitment and Employment Confederation’s (REC – professional body for the recruitment industry) specialist recruitment training and qualifications
  • Non-graduate roles – given the current economic climate seriously consider applying for clerical or administrative roles within recruitment/HR or training departments and then look for promotion opportunities internally.  Some support roles will still offer the opportunity to follow professional training qualifications once in post.  Your chance of successfully gaining a role in this area can be increased if already signed up to CIPD part-time study.  Once you have gained six month experience within an HR department, it is then easier to apply for subsequent roles particularly through specialist recruitment agencies in HR.

Work experience

In this sector, work experience is vital. Recruitment/HR is an incredibly competitive sector and recruiters will want to know what you understand about the role and why you think you are suited to it. These answers are always best addressed by being able to refer to meaningful work experience.

Internships/Vacation Schemes

You are strongly advised to contact larger organisations where this opportunity is sometimes available. So research is vital. The retailers and large scale manufacturers often run summer schemes and details of such opportunities will be available on their websites and in the careers directories listed below. Deadlines are often early, so it is advisable to start your search early in the autumn term.

Speculative applications/networking

Wherever you will be in the vacation, think about local, large employers of staff and contact these organisations about work experience or work shadowing. Use any contacts that you may have and talk to those who are already working within Human Resources. Activities such as this will help make your final job applications stand out. Consider contacting your local branch of the CIPD to help make some contacts.


You can also develop appropriate skills whilst at University by taking on positions of responsibility, such as organising people, events and finances, whether in a voluntary or paid capacity.  Remember, business awareness and management skills are actively sought by employers, as are good communication skills, IT and numeracy, interpersonal skills, integrity and approachability, influencing and negotiating skills.

Local links and events

Many varying organisations visit the University to make presentations and attend recruitment events throughout the year. Check the latest edition of the Careers & Employability Programme of Events and notice boards in your department to find out who has arranged forthcoming visits. All events and recruitment fairs are posted in the intranet and the Careers Account app.

Of particular interest to those wishing to enter a career in Human Resource Management are the ‘Autumn Careers Information & Recruitment Event’ and the ‘Business, Finance & Banking Careers Fair’ every October – excellent opportunities to meet employers..

Related links

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Getting started

Professional bodies

Employers & vacancy sources

  • Our Jobs Board – search vacancies posted by employers or set up job alerts via the Jobs Board or Career Account apps. Also tweeted via @CardiffCareers