How to Get a Job in Human Resources

How to Get a Job in Human Resources

Finding a new job in human resources is easy!

Now that I’ve lured you into reading my latest blog, I can confidently state that I’m only kidding. If you have experienced the same HR job market as I did over the past year, you may even demand that I see my EAP for substance abuse testing. In my 15 years within human resources (with various job moves interspersed), I have never, ever seen anything like the current human resources job market and am amazed at how quickly and fundamentally I observed a change in the landscape.

How Did the Human Resources Job Market Change?

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If you think all the way back to 2006, there was no Linked In, no Facebook, The Ladders represented things leaning against the wall of your garage and there was little discussion of social networking as a method of getting a new job. Now, you wouldn’t think about a job search without engaging in the tools mentioned above. There have been way too many articles about each of those methods for me to address them head-on, but I can reflect on how I used them now that I am in a new HR position. More importantly, I will discuss what I would have done differently in my own search for a new job in human resources.

Effective Strategies for Landing a Job in Human Resources

Networking. Whether you are currently employed or presently between positions, social networking is the most important method for increasing awareness of you. You never know who may wind up in a position to help you in the future. Develop relationships in a sincere way and you will find ready proponents for your cause. Are you giving first or taking first? Over the course of my career, I have spoken to college classes, volunteered in various capacities, and remained active in alumni groups, among other activities. As I began my search, these past actions allowed me direct access to people who were very willing to help me.

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LinkedIn. LinkedIn, in my opinion, is a powerful job hunting tool as long as you use it thoughtfully. The person who was your best manager and promoted you four times is a great person to have as a connection and, more importantly, to provide recommendations. The person you worked with but barely knew is ok to have as a connection but you can’t really count on them to provide too much assistance. And the people on LinkedIn who are “open networkers?” Don’t bother. At one point I thought that would simply multiply my network connections. What a waste of time! Aggregator sites such as are great efficiency tools for your search. One key to success (and keeping your sanity during a search) is to be as productive with your time as possible. That strategy includes limiting the number of websites to search.

SHRM. Join SHRM and participate in your local chapter(s). This falls under the category of networking but also the concept of staying aware of current HR issues. If you are in a specialty area of HR or in a different field altogether, find the appropriate group. Many of the local chapters have special interest groups that help job seekers specifically and I found this support to be very beneficial for my HR job search and my psyche.

Ineffective Strategies for Landing a Job in Human Resources

Facebook and Twitter. While new, fun, and interesting developments, I think Facebook and Twitter’s value for job seekers is highly overblown. Sure, it makes sense to communicate through Facebook with your friends and family that you are looking (see “Networking” above), but employers finding HR employees through Facebook seems far-fetched. Really, Facebook is only a method of screening candidates out. As long as you keep your public profile clean, at least you won’t lose a job opportunity through the site.

Twitter as a job tool? Please. How many great employers are going to search for you or be posted on your phone in an environment where posted positions are producing huge responses already?

The Ladders. Paying for anything is a bad idea. I admit, I paid for two years of access to The Ladders and thought it would bring great things. After all of that time, I had 12 employers search my credentials and a grand total of one who reached out to me. Granted, the site does screen out jobs in human resources that pay under $100,000 – a nice feature – but the results in this job market didn’t justify the cost. There are many, many companies offering resume-writing services or personal marketing services that, I believe, are often preying on the desperation of job seekers in order to make money. Maybe you have had a positive experience with a service like this, but my advice is buyer beware. Money gets very scarce in a long job search so spend wisely.

My Best Advice for Finding a Job in Human Resources

My search took seven months from the time of my layoff to the beginning of my new job in human resources. In retrospect, I could have been much, much more productive with my time. For example, if I had dedicated two hours in the morning and two hours in the afternoon to job search activities, I could have dedicated a couple of hours a day to cleaning out the garage or learning a new language or painting a room or two. Instead, I began looking online at 8 a.m. and stopped about 11 p.m. What a waste of time. The only thing I did wisely in this area was committing to exercising every day. It helped me get in better shape and provided a mental boost when the human resources job market was doing just the opposite.

These are a few thoughts. What do you think?

Andrew Shelton

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This is an area that many people have trouble with. I recently did some specific research targeted toward this area, because it’s such a common question–virtually everyone in HR today has dealt with it at one time, but nobody seems to have good advice other than “keep trying” and “network more.” The research and other info is covered in this essay: