Wherever you work, it's the people that matter. Get involved with making those the right people, and helping people to develop and be supported in their own careers, while building your own along the way. A career in human resources (HR) and employment is one that will see you at the centre of organisations and its people.

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What is HR?

Well if you’ve ever heard the saying, “people are your most valuable asset”, then you’re beginning to understand what HR is all about.  People who run successful businesses say they couldn’t do it without a talented workforce.

So HR is about making sure the right people are in the right jobs – literally providing human resources. Attracting people is an important first step, but that’s just the beginning. How do you then get your people to stay with you and perform to the best of their abilities, day in, day out? Are you giving them the skills, training and development to build long-term careers? How do you get them working together to drive your business’s success? Or protect their rights and make sure they are fairly rewarded and treated at work?

And it’s HR’s job to make sure all of these things happen. 

Find out more about HR and L&D (learning & development), including info about specific roles and stories from those in them.

Jobs and Salaries

Human Resources

Find out more about HR and L&D (learning & development), including info about specific roles and stories from those in them. 

The Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD) has conducted extensive research and produced a map of the profession that “captures what HR people do and deliver across every aspect and specialism of the profession and it looks at the underpinning skills, behaviour and knowledge that they need to be most successful.”

Read tips from careers experts 'Position Ignition' in 'Considering a career in HR?'

  • Basic salary levels range from an average £22,000 for junior HR officers to £70,000 for HR directors. 
  • A graduate entry HR officer can expect to earn just under £26,000 (2013-14 data, CIPD).


The employment profession is often divided into sectors, including areas such as medical, financial and sales.

Are you interested in graduate recruitment?

Read more about the recruitment industry.

  • Recruiters earn on average a basic salary of £26,000, but this is an industry where commission plays a big part in salary, raising the average on-target earnings (OTE) to £36,000 and, in some cases, leading to double the basic salary.

Careers guidance

Another option is a professional career in careers guidance. Take a look at the variety of careers advisers working in the UK.

Routes and Qualifications

It is not necessary to have a specific qualification to work in HR or emplyment.  However, courses and training are often a good way to develop and refresh your career. 

There is a lot of information on HR related qualifications, including what courses to choose, where to study and student benefits.

Find out about getting qualified to become a careers adviser.

Funding and support

The Institute of Recruiters are now offering fully funded apprenticeships for those interested in a career in recruitment.

It is possible to do postgraduate qualifications in this sector, if you decide to go down this route, you may be able to apply for a Career Development Loan.

What’s it really like working in this sector?

Most HR professionals have contracted hours of 35-37.5, but only a third actually work as few hours as this, and half work up to eight hours more per week. Of HR directors, 90% typically work 40 hours a week or more.

Those working in employment face similarly long hours, contacting clients at the end of their working day.

Work is this sector is mostly office based, with the possibility of travel to meet with clients.

How many jobs are there in this sector?

  • Search for jobs in this sector at our jobs board, where you can also find internships and apprenticeships.
  • HR and recruitment is a large sector that spans numerous industries. The CIPD is the professional body for HR and people development and their current membership stands at 140,000. 
  • The professional body representing the recruitment industry, the Recruitment and Employment Confederation (REC), currently reports representing 5,759 individual members working in this sector, in addition to their corporate members.
  • While funding has been cut for many careers adviser roles in the UK in the last few years, many combine part time roles and freelance work with success. Find out more about what career development professionals do and how you could fit in.

Location, location, location

Opportunities in this sector exist all across the country, however executive search consultancies and graduate schemes tend to be based in London or other large cities. 

Will a career in this sector suit me?

  • A good degree (2:1 or above) is usually required for graduate schemes and graduate-level vacancies. This sector is open to graduates from any discipline - while HR related degrees may be relevant, they are not necessarily considered an advantage.
  • Key skills that employers look for include diplomacy, excellent communication skills, the ability to persuade and influence others, administration experience, organisational and IT skills, decision-making skills, an understanding of how organisations operate.

To make it as a careers adviser you’ll need to:

  • Be able to develop good working relationships with a wide range of people
  • Have good listening and questioning skills
  • Be able to research information and explain it clearly
  • Have sound organisational and time-management skills
  • Work under pressure and meet targets
  • Be confident in group situations
  • Have administrative, report writing and record keeping skills
  • Have computer skills