A career in HR and L&D offers a world of exciting opportunities! The rewards are great, and with the right skills and motivation you can expect swift progression early on.

How much will I earn?

If you’re just starting out in HR from school or college, you’ll probably earn around £15,000–£18,000 a year. As you gain qualifications and experience, your salary can go up significantly. The average pay for an HR manager is £46,000, and when you progress to the top, you could be earning over £80,000 as an HR director!

You’ll also have access to other benefits such as bonuses, pensions and holidays, all of which vary from job to job.

What jobs could you go into?

In some organisations you can cover the full range of HR work, gaining really broad skills and experience; this is called a generalist role. In other businesses, you may be able to specialise in a particular area. There are many options open to you, main areas include:

• Recruitment and talent planning

It’s vital that businesses attract and hire the right people. If you specialise in recruitment, you’ll work with managers across different departments to understand the skills or ‘talent’ they need and then find and recruit them. This includes preparing job descriptions and advertisements, checking applications and CVs, setting up and running interviews, and testing the skills of people who’ve applied. You can also identify existing people in the business that can progress into new roles.

• Learning, training and development

Learning and development (L&D) specialists help people develop new skills so they stay motivated and productive in their roles while developing their skills and knowledge. Often called the ‘training department’, they analyse the training needs within teams and then develop and deliver training courses, help train new people when they join the business, or develop leadership training programmes.

• Employment law

Some knowledge of the fast-moving world of employment law is important for most HR roles. You’ll often have to give advice to other managers in the business on legal issues. You may also have to represent your organisation personally at employment tribunals or instruct a solicitor, so it’s important you can analyse legal materials effectively.

• Employee relations

As an employee relations specialist you will help harmonise relationships across the organisation, settle disputes and ensure employees are being treated fairly by the organisation in the eyes of the law. Employee relations may involve managing relationships with individual employees or negotiating with unions over pay and work conditions. You can work on grievances and disciplinary procedures, redundancies or areas such as equal opportunities, harassment and bullying.

• Performance and reward

Sometimes known as compensation and benefits, reward covers the whole benefits package that helps to recruit people to an organisation, and then motivate and retain them once they’ve arrived. HR professionals in this area develop and monitor performance related pay and other company schemes related to pay and benefits.

• Employee engagement

Larger businesses often recruit experts in employee engagement. This is all about the internal communication of the organisation’s brand to employees – or ‘employer branding’. How do you get people to feel a sense of loyalty and pride in their work? You’ll use your analytical skills to run surveys and workshops to understand how employees feel about their work and then make recommendations on how to increase satisfaction levels.

• Organisation development

Businesses today are in a constant state of reinvention, changing and adapting to the needs of customers and the economy. Organisation development specialists are there to help companies manage that change effectively. They advise companies on how to align people, processes and strategies to improve the overall performance of the business.