Breaking into HR Without "Official" Experience



So you fell into HR by accident and now want to establish yourself in a career? Join the club.

If you’re like many people in the HR profession, human resources is the best job you never knew you wanted—until you started doing it. It’s a familiar story: You’re hired by a company to do administrative work, or business development, or finance. But over time, people leave and responsibilities shift. Before you know it, you find yourself taking on small HR duties, and then more and more of them.

You’re practically functioning in a full-time HR role by the time you’ve discovered that this is the career path you want. But when it comes time to seek a promotion or move to a new company, you’re stymied. Despite your facility in human resources, your job title and official job description don’t reflect the work you’re actually doing.

When you come to HR through happenstance—as so many people do—how can you brand yourself effectively to move up to the next rung? Below are some tips for rising higher in HR, regardless of where you are on your career journey.

Structure your resume differently. If the job titles on your resume or CV don’t reflect your HR experience, recruiters may pass you over because they often take only a cursory glance at those documents. Instead, draw people’s attention to your most relevant credentials right up top by eschewing the typical chronological format that most resumes follow. "Create your resume as an arc to tell the story of your journey to HR and your future trajectory in HR," says Julie Clow, senior vice president of global people development for Chanel.

For instance, if you’ve helped out in the past with one aspect of human resources, such as recruiting or payroll, explain in your resume and cover letter that this experience helped you realize that you want to move more fully into an HR role…

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