How to progress in your HR career


Two women in front of a brick wall.

Looking to progress your career in HR? Here are our top tips to help you succeed!

How to kickstart your HR career

Gain a CIPD qualification

While a CIPD qualification is not a legal requirement for a HR role, many employers won’t consider candidates who don’t have (or aren’t working towards) CIPD accreditation. 

The CIPD Level 3 Foundation Certificate In People Practice is ideal for you if you’re new to HR and are looking to develop the key skills you need for entry-level roles such as an HR Administrator or HR Assistant.

Alternatives to CIPD

Depending on your previous experience and qualifications, you don’t always need to do a CIPD course to get into the HR industry. You may be able to get a job by:

  • Studying for a Human Resource Management Degree
  • Entering a HR Graduate Scheme
  • Completing a HR Apprenticeships
  • Undertaking HR Work Experience and Volunteering.

However, these alternatives often take longer to complete than the CIPD Level 3 course and won’t give you the same advantage when you want to take the next step in your HR career path. 

Tips for progressing in your HR role

If you’re already in a junior HR role, you may be focussing on progression to a middle-management role such as HR Advisor or HR Manager or your ambition may be to progress to senior roles such as HR Director, Senior HR Consultant, or HR Business Partner.

1.  Achieve your advanced CIPD qualifications

As you progress, from entry-level roles to more senior roles, a CIPD qualification is often required by employers. 

While there is no legal requirement to pay a candidate more, depending on their level of CIPD qualification, an increase in job responsibilities is likely to lead to an increase in pay. For example, those with a CIPD Level 3 qualification can earn up to £25,000 whereas those with a CIPD Level 5 qualification can earn up to £38,000.

Recruiters have also reported an average of £5,000 difference in the annual salary for qualified HR professionals compared to unqualified HR professionals in similar roles. 

All CIPD qualifications aim to develop your knowledge and professional skills so that you can confidently carry out your role in HR.

A CIPD Level 5 qualification gives you advanced knowledge in areas such as specialist employment law and workforce planning so you’ll be able to excel in your role, pursue new projects and take on specialist tasks to support your career progression to HR Advisor or HR Manager. 

A CIPD Level 7 Advanced Diploma is perfect if you’re looking to become a strategic leader in your organisation or you want to explore innovative new areas in your business for example Technology Enhanced Learning. A Level 7 qualification will also help you pursue leadership roles such as HR Director and HR Business Partner. 

2.  Renew your CIPD membership

When you complete a CIPD qualification you can also register for CIPD membership. We recommend you renew this regularly after your initial membership period expires, particularly if you’re looking to progress in your HR career. 

A CIPD membership gives you access to other HR professionals in the community; networking that can turn into valuable referrals and job opportunities you’ll also receive dedicated career support and guidance from the CIPD themselves.  

3.  Learn to coach

Helping others succeed is an important part of gaining a promotion, regardless of your job role, but in HR it’s arguably more important than ever. 

“Wherever we sit in HR, we have a responsibility to help those we work with to continually develop and grow.” – Liz Needham

Learning to coach others to develop and succeed will help you demonstrate you can confidently progress to HR management and leadership roles within your organisation, that you’re a team player, and you can play a crucial role in solving problems and filling skills gaps. All of these abilities combined will make you a great candidate for promotion and your goal of a senior HR role. 

Read more: Why Coach as a HR Professional?

4.  Become an expert in conflict resolution

Conflict is inevitable within organisations of any size, with many employers and managers unclear on how to deal with it. HR has a key role in conflict resolution and often acts as the mediator between people or departments. 

Conflict resolution is one of the most important skills of a HR professional. As the go-to expert for conflict resolution within your organisation, key stakeholders and potential employers will recognise your worth and seek your expertise in an area they’d rather not handle themselves – ultimately leading to greater career opportunities and a more senior role. 

5.  Be dependable

Being a reliable and effective member of your organisation will open doors for you in your HR career. You’ll be trusted to deliver your work to a high standard, and on time, which shows your manager you can be trusted with larger projects.

The most important thing you can do in your HR career is to ensure that, when you’ve put your name to a piece of work or project, it’s completed on time and well. This is true of small tasks as well as large projects. The best way to do this is to make sure your objectives and timescales are clearly defined before you begin.

6.  Make the most of appraisals

Although often treated as a tick box exercise, appraisals can be a valuable source of feedback on job performance and can even help you lay the groundwork for progressing into a senior HR role. 

During your appraisal, make your manager aware of your goals so they can be on the lookout for opportunities for you and even give you advice on how you need to improve to be eligible for senior roles. While talking to your manager or employer about your ambitions, it’s important to highlight the benefit your personal progression will have on the business. Will it improve overall performance in the organisation, free up time for your boss or allow you to focus on more important tasks?

Alongside evaluating how you can improve, make sure you use your appraisal time to highlight your successes. This reminds your manager of your value and how integral you are to the HR operations within the company. Talking about your achievements can also help you to boost your confidence and practise for senior-level job interviews. 

Read more: How to get the most out of an appraisal

We understand the HR profession like no other training provider. That’s what makes our courses great.

Our tutors are industry experts and use a wealth of HR experience to bring your CIPD course to life. You’ll be encouraged to apply theory and models to your workplace, meaning you can add immediate value at work by applying your learning directly to your role.

Looking to break into HR or advance your career further? Register your interest in our HR courses or call one of our Qualifications Advisors on 03452 032 103 for more information.