Breaking into HR Without “Official” Experience

by Dorie Clark

So you fell into HR by accident and now want to establish yourself in a career? Join the club.

If you’re like many people in the HR profession, human resources is the best job you never knew you wanted—until you started doing it. It’s a familiar story: You’re hired by a company to do administrative work, or business development, or finance. But over time, people leave and responsibilities shift. Before you know it, you find yourself taking on small HR duties, and then more and more of them.

You’re practically functioning in a full-time HR role by the time you’ve discovered that this is the career path you want. But when it comes time to seek a promotion or move to a new company, you’re stymied. Despite your facility in human resources, your job title and official job description don’t reflect the work you’re actually doing.

When you come to HR through happenstance—as so many people do—how can you brand yourself effectively to move up to the next rung? Below are some tips for rising higher in HR, regardless of where you are on your career journey.

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Dorie Clark is a marketing strategist and professional speaker who teaches at Duke University’s Fuqua School of Business.


By Troy Hopkins
Troy Hopkins Director, Undergraduate Career Counseling Troy Hopkins