How to land an HR job without work experience

Jul 7, 2020 2:15 PM ET

As getting into HR as a newbie is extremely hard, a nudge in the right direction will be extremely helpful.

Analytical people with a passion for problem-solving are often attracted to Human Resources. On top of it, if you are an objective and impartial individual with strong communication skills, HR might be your calling.

People from any educational background can find roots in HR.

While several undergraduate HR programs can lead you up to a position in HR, a bachelor’s degree in HR-related subjects, such as communication, business, psychology, sociology, and the social sciences are also applicable and will help you land a job in HR.

If you are not from any of these backgrounds and still want to pursue a career in HR, any educational background will work as long as you know what skills you can leverage.  You can build an impressive human resource resume without much experience. Here is how you can do it.

1.    Build a network

Knowing the right people can help advance your career in HR.

LinkedIn is an amazing platform to build a network of like-minded people.

Take time to meet the people who are in a position to help you, learn about them.

Although before you make your case, know what exactly you can do that will add value to their operation.

Do not make them feel that you only connected with them to help yourself out. Rather, show them that you would be eager to help them out as well, if and when they might need it.

2.    Gain internships

A smaller company with insufficient resources will not have more than a couple of HR people on the payroll. These companies will jump at the opportunity of onboarding an HR intern.

Bigger companies might also have HR internship programs that you can look into.

Interns are relatively paid less. So even companies with no intern programs might be open to hiring one. All you need to do is approach them. You have nothing to lose anyway.

3.    Leverage skills learned in other industries

Did you work in the service industry or hospitality industry? It is an excellent way to gain the skills needed in HR jobs.

If you led or managed teams, you can put that experience in your resume for HR jobs as well.

Also, you will be a shoo-in if you have any hiring, disciplinary, incentive, or termination experience.

Moreover, any administrative experience will make it extremely easy for you to get your foot in the door.

If you are currently working at a placeholder job until you can get the job you desire, try to take on HR responsibilities there.

Even if your title indicates a non-HR position, practicing HR skills will add weight to your application when you finally apply to HR positions. These responsibilities may include budgeting, recruitment, managing, and mentoring.

4.    Volunteer for nonprofit organizations

Small non-profit organizations are often under-staffed and there are chances that they might have a single-person HR department or no HR at all.

Volunteer at such places and find ways to support them while gaining experience for yourself.

Screen candidates, check references, create open enrollment packets for employees, administer employee satisfaction surveys.

Find out all the HR needs of the organization and try to fulfill them the best you can.

5.    Work in recruitment

One of the most common paths followed by people with no HR experience is working in staff or contract recruitment.

Recruitment experience can be easily leveraged to gain a job in HR.

People with a knack for sales and networking will enjoy this profile. Not to mention, that the money in recruitment is better than in other HR profiles.

6.    Educate yourself

Getting educated doesn’t always have to mean getting a degree. You can gain HR-related knowledge without a degree through other means as well, like:

Reading books and HR blogs to further your knowledge in the world of HR. This will keep you updated on all the trends being followed.
Get into blogging and share your knowledge with the world. Do your research and write opinionated blogs. Try to get your work featured on other websites as guest posts.
Networking both online and offline will help you learn from real-world experiences of other people.
Familiarize yourself with the tools used in HR jobs like applicant tracking software, HRIS, HRMS, etc.
Look for HR job advertisements. They often list the software they need applicants to be well-versed in. Demo these tools to prepare yourself.

·       Write the perfect HR resume

From selecting the right format to maintaining the accurate resume length, each aspect of a resume is scrutinized by employers. You have to be aware of these facts to build a job-winning resume.

These are some of the most common practices to be followed:

Use the reverse-chronological format to build your resume.
Keep your resume length limited to one page.
Use bullet points to describe your roles and responsibilities and start these points with action verbs.
Make a distinct ‘Skills’ section in your resume and include keywords found in the job description here. Only use keywords that apply to you.
Educate yourself about Applicant Tracking Systems and learn how you can surpass them.


HR is a very dynamic department and only people who are naturally drawn towards the field should apply for jobs in HR. The skills needed to be in HR are unlike ‘teachable’ skills. For example, you can teach someone how to use software but logical thinking is an ingrained skill.

If you think HR is the right fit for you and you are looking for ways to land an HR job without work experience, these are some tips that might be helpful:

Network with people working in HR or people who can help you get your foot in the door.
Seek out HR internships at small businesses as they are more likely to hire one.
If you have any work experience, learn how you can leverage the skills you gained in that profile.
Volunteer to take on the HR responsibilities of a non-profit organization.
Work in staff recruitment or contract recruitment and then branch out in HR.
Educate yourself by reading relevant books and blogs. Keeping yourself updated will help if you land an interview.
Work on your resume to make it perfect.


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