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From Administrator to Advisor – Top tips to climb the HR career ladder

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By Amber Howard

Because newly qualified HR professionals often start their careers at an entry-level administrative role, the prospect of climbing the HR career ladder from Administrator to Advisor can seem like a daunting feat.

Ultimately, Employee Relations is the backbone of a successful career in HR. Although you may have studied employment law prior to your first HR job, you need to keep your knowledge up to date and actively look for ways to continue utilising your knowledge and expertise in the real world. So without further ado, here are my top tips to help you climb the HR career ladder.

Top tips to help you climb the HR career ladder

At the end of the day, you need to really want to progress professionally in order to do so. This will involve proactively continuing to develop your skills and keep yourself abreast of any changes that impact both your specific role and the wider HR sector. Below, I outline my top four tips to help you progress in your HR career.

1. Read beyond the job title, and don't settle for less than what you want

Although you’ll never jump straight from qualification into a senior HR job, it’s important to note that one company’s HR Administrator is another’s HR Assistant. Confused? Well you’re not alone, as many young HR professionals feel the same way when wading through an ocean of job titles, without much knowledge on which HR job to apply for.

However, this simply means that culture, core values and ways of working may differ from one employer to another. While some companies may offer a newly-appointed HR Administrator great exposure and multiple opportunities to gain hands-on experience under managers who will mentor and support their professional development, others will draw clear hierarchal lines with no room for fresh-faced HR professionals to develop their skills or diversify their role.

For this reason, you should go over job descriptions with a fine-tooth comb to decipher what each one entails. Some may be geared towards admin duties, while others may call for more consultative activities. Realistically speaking however, not all companies necessarily live up to the promises they make. So if you feel your career stagnating in one company, don’t be afraid to evaluate alternative options.

2. Continuously learn and develop your skills

Throughout your career, you should continue to make every effort to equip yourself with the skills and experience needed to progress to the role of HR Advisor. This could be achieved through an additional training course, e-learning or a sector-specific seminar.

But undoubtedly the best way to learn any new skill is through hands-on experience. For this reason, you should take initiative and ask for more exposure to certain projects in addition to your existing role, and don’t be afraid to get your hands dirty. These include the following:

  • Take the lead with employee relations case work, such as disciplinary procedures or grievances
  • Get involved in complex employee relations case work where possible, as referred to earlier, this is the backbone of HR. This includes, but is not limited to note-taking, supporting a senior HR professional in a meeting, carrying out a full investigation and interviewing witnesses.
  • Provide an analysis of HR metrics – such as long term sickness, attrition, open cases, recruitment and engagement.
  • Coaching and up-skilling managers in HR policies and practices, or support a senior HR professional in doing so.
  • Manage consultation processes, or support a senior HR professional in doing so
  • Take the lead on employment law projects, such as implementing policies to align with the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), Gender Pay Gap Reporting or the Apprenticeship Levy.
  • Be involved with union liaison and negotiation by attending meetings with the unions, or supporting a senior HR professional in union negotiations.
  • Policy and procedure writing / amendment and launch to the business.

3. Keep yourself informed of current or looming issues which impact your sector

Whether it’s brought about by emerging technology or new legislation, continuous evolution is inevitable in the world of business. As such, HR professionals must adapt to change through keeping themselves informed of current or looming issues which may impact their sector. This is particularly important where employment law is concerned, and you should keep yourself updated on the following:

  • Gender Pay Gap
  • Government
  • Apprenticeship Levy
  • Shared Parental Leave
  • General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR)

In short, remember that your career success is largely underpinned by your desire to continuously improve on a professional level, as well as your willingness and initiative to proactively apply newly-cultivated skills and knowledge to your current role. Trust me, someone is bound to take notice and reward your efforts.

Fancy a career in HR?

Whether you’re looking for a temp or permanent role in HR, we at Search are recruiting HR professionals at all levels. If you need further advice, or wish to discuss upcoming HR roles in the North West, you contact Amber Howard on [email protected]  Alternatively, you can find our full list of vacancies by clicking the button below!