How to Get a Job in HR: 8 Strategies to Try

Did you know fewer than one in 10 human resource leaders have an HR-specific degree? So whether you’re aiming to break into the industry or advance your HR career from a nontraditional background, rest assured, you’re in good company.

HR professionals come from diverse academic backgrounds—business, psychology, law, finance, English, history, and philosophy, to name a few. Anita Grantham, Head of HR at BambooHR, advises employers to embrace this diversity, recognizing that varied perspectives contribute to a more robust company culture.

In this article, we’ll cover strategies for positioning yourself as a people-oriented and data-driven candidate to land a job in HR. After all, from balancing empathetic communication, rules and regulations, data analysis, and more, HR professionals must wear many hats to act in both the company’s and the team’s best interests. Read on to learn how you can shine in a competitive job market.

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Is It Hard to Get a Job in Human Resources?

The ease or difficulty of every person’s job search will vary depending on many factors like their qualifications, experience, location, the specific HR role they’re targeting, and the current job market conditions. According to a Reddit thread, many job seekers find the competition is stiff since companies that overhired during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic have been conducting layoffs.

However, the bright side is most companies have an HR department, making it an in-demand career overall. In fact, the US Bureau of Labor Statistics reports the job outlook for Human Resource Specialists is projected to grow 6% from 2022 to 2032—which is faster than the average for all occupations—with an average of 78,700 openings each year throughout the decade.

How to Get an HR Job Without Experience

While it may take a bit more patience and perseverance to break into the HR field without prior experience, it’s not impossible. Here are a few strategies to help you with your job search:

Highlight Transferable Skills

Although you may not have worked in HR before, chances are your current job involves using some skills that’ll help you thrive in your desired HR position. When it comes to hiring, Ben Peterson (BambooHR Co-founder, Co-chairman, and former CEO) says, “An HR pro needs to do things with purpose, be thoughtful, and have a business sense.” Some skills to highlight in your application materials include:

Transition Internally

There’s no sugarcoating it—job searching is hard. To make it easier, consider starting in a related role, such as an Administrative Assistant or Executive Assistant, then try to transition internally to your company’s HR department. You’ll have a leg up on any external competition since the hiring team already knows how well you perform and fit in with the company culture. Plus, you’ll finish onboarding faster because you’re familiar with the systems.

Volunteer to Assist with HR Initiatives

Strengthen your resume by volunteering to help your current company with its HR initiatives. For instance, you could lead (or help create) an employee resource group where employees can bond over their shared characteristics, life circumstances, or common interests.

Another route could be developing company culture activities such as community service projects, coffee chats to help people get to know colleagues in other departments, and cultural education on important holidays and events.

Conduct an Independent Study

To stand out among hundreds, potentially thousands of applicants, show your passion for HR by conducting an independent study. Here’s a brief overview of the process:

  1. Select a key HR topic and set a clear learning objective. For example, you may want to learn how to create engaging internal communications.
  2. Conduct research. We’ve compiled the top HR websites, books and other resources for you so you can dive right in.
  3. Network with HR pros. Connect with those who specialize in employee communications and ask if they’d be willing to sit for an informational interview about the challenges and successes they’ve had throughout their careers.
  4. Volunteer or intern. Put what you’ve learned into practice. Smaller businesses may be more receptive to volunteers or interns, so you might consider offering to help one write employee newsletters.
  5. Document your work for applications. Detail your volunteer or internship experience or create a sample internal communications plan to make your portfolio shine.

How to Get an HR Job With Experience

If you’re already an HR pro, your experience, commitment, and desire to grow in the field can help you stand out. Here are some strategies for landing your next role:

Highlight Your Proficiency in HRIS

If you have experience using a human resources information system (HRIS) like BambooHR, highlight how you’ve leveraged it to automate critical processes such as hiring, onboarding, payroll, benefits administration, and the employee experience. This’ll demonstrate your willingness to adapt to new technologies to increase efficiency and comply with various regulations.

Demonstrate Your HR Data and Reporting Skills

As Peter Drucker—who was considered the “founder of modern management”—once said, “What gets measured gets improved.” Share examples of how your HR data and reporting skills allow you to make informed decisions that benefit both the organization and your people.

For instance, let’s say your HR software employee participation rate was low, so you took the initiative to offer workshops and Q&A sessions. Highlight this information on your resume or in your interview and be sure to include the impact of your actions (e.g., “As a result, engagement rose by X%”).

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Become a LinkedIn Power User

The likelihood of landing your dream job is influenced by both what you know and who you know. Being active on LinkedIn can help grow your network and expedite your job search. Our research on HR managers found many are LinkedIn power users, with 80% having 500+ connections.

But beyond sending connection requests, it’s important to develop your online presence and attract an engaged audience. Establish yourself as an industry thought leader by creating informative posts about top HR trends and statistics to be aware of, how to streamline various processes, and more. You can also share some personal posts that convey your values and interests. Doing so gives prospective employers a fuller picture of who you are and what you can bring to their organization.

Include Your Certifications on Your Resume and LinkedIn

You’ve worked hard to earn your certifications, so don’t forget to show them off! Plus, provide context on how your certifications contributed to your skills and ability to excel in past HR roles. Doing so can help boost your career prospects and give you leverage to negotiate a higher salary.

And in case you’re looking for more certifications to bolster your resume and LinkedIn profile, check out our blog posts on SHRM and HRCI certification and how to get free HRCI recertification credits.

HR Department Roles to Look For

As Ben says, HR is “so much more than policies and procedures. [It’s] everything from payroll, which is super technical, to working on culture, which is super broad.” So if you’re interested in breaking into or advancing in the HR field, there are several roles and job levels you can consider based on your skills and interests:

Entry Level

Generally, salary will vary depending on your location, and the required years of experience will differ between companies. That being said, Glassdoor notes the US salary range is $55,000 to $82,000 for entry-level candidates with zero to three years of experience.

Common entry-level roles include:


The US salary range is $61,000 to $128,000 for candidates with four to 14 years of experience. Common mid-career roles include:


The US salary range is $85,000 to $151,000 for candidates with 15+ years of experience. Common advanced roles include:

Next Steps: Job Search with Intention

Job searching will look different for everyone, but this guide can serve as a foundation to get you started. Whether you’re looking for your first HR job or have been in the field for years, it’s always a good idea to reflect on the invaluable experience you’ve already gained and envision your future career trajectory.

Self-reflection will help you identify your skills and build confidence, decide what learning opportunities or certifications to pursue, and target companies that share your values. And when the interview requests start rolling in, check out the articles below to help you put your best foot forward. Best of luck!

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