HR opportunities in different industries: what you need to know

Human Resources is a fantastic profession which offers opportunities to work in every sector with a variety of people. If you’re looking at entering HR, there are numerous paths that will lead you towards  a well-paid, interesting and fulfilling career.

There are some areas of industry where HR is better integrated into the business model, and these are ideal places to start your journey in HR. You’ll get good quality training and experience which can translate into other fields and give you lots of opportunities to specialise in an area that suits you.

Which sector suits your HR career?

So where should you start looking? Technology, construction and property, sales and marketing, finance and accounting, the third sector with charities and other non-profit organisations and start-ups all need an HR function but  have very different recruiting and employee management challenges. Think about which of these sectors appeal to you most by considering the type of work you enjoy, whether you want to work in a big multinational or smaller, more agile enterprise, and other factors such as salary, work-life balance and career progression opportunities, which will vary for each industry.

Within different sectors, there are many types of HR roles and the potential to work in different specialisms within HR. Depending on the size of your organisation, these could include employee relations, employment law, health and safety, payroll and pensions, reward, training, recruitment, and organisational development and transformation.

Career changes and HR opportunities from other roles

Although there are plenty of graduate training programmes in large organisations, not everyone comes to HR straight away. It’s possible to move from other occupations that have some relevance to the HR function as there are lots of areas in which HR crosses over into other careers.

Law, sales, administration and finance all have some similarities to HR so making a sideways move from these roles is entirely possible. People who have had HR responsibilities in their old job – such as recruiters, employment lawyers and PAs – will find that process easier. Alternatively, you can take a short career break to study, or take on a specialist area such as training in your current role to get some relevant experience.

Whichever path into HR you choose, it’s important to remember the challenges and opportunities that different sectors present.

Construction – fast moving and risky

HR professionals in construction need to be mentally agile and able to react to fast-changing situations. Construction contracts are often handed out at short notice, so there’s little time to plan. Construction workers are usually transient so there’s a constant requirement to recruit and manage the workforce. But the main issue is health and safety – not just because of the potential for injuries on building sites, but also because injured workers need to be looked after and the workforce can be destabilised by both high turnover and industrial relations issues.

Finance – changing cultures

The shockwaves of Brexit and the financial crash can still be felt in the financial services industry. The constantly changing regulations coupled with the disruption caused by new technologies known as ‘FinTech’ has created a situation where banks and other financial institutions are in a state of permanent adaptation. Managing transformation, organisational development and design and trying to recruit and retain talented employees add up to a major HR challenge.

Technology – recruiting and retaining talent

Tech is the future, and thinking ahead is a vital part of HR in technology companies. There’s a shortage of top tech talent which means that the biggest challenge facing HR professionals in this industry is recruiting people and convincing them to turn down other offers.

This means a constant recruitment process, even when positions don’t need to be filled, and a big emphasis on reward and creating an appealing working environment and company culture.

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