In most cases, becoming a HR manager will take years of gaining valuable experience in less senior Human Resources roles, garnering a significant portfolio of accredited qualifications and certifications, and a deep interest and enthusiasm for HR which will enable you to keep up to date with the latest HR trends, news, technology and advancements.
If all of this sounds a lot like hard work, then you're right! However, the role of HR manager is one that commands great respect and authority within any organization, and all of the hard work is necessary to attain this enviable position.
The following sections will break these steps down a little, and should serve to give you a better idea of exactly what it takes to land your first HR management role.
Acquire the relevant HR experience
Very few HR managers jump straight into the role after leaving university, or even straight after gaining HR related qualifications.
The truth is that you can have all the theoretical HR knowledge in the world, but if you have no real-life experience in HR or management, you're still going to struggle to gain your first HR management position.
You can acquire the necessary experience over a year or two by starting out as a HR assistant or administrator, and then working your way up to a HR officer/advisor role.
Once you have a little experience in the advisory role, you can begin to look for HR management opportunities within your own company, or in alternative businesses – particularly if you take the advice in the next section seriously.
Build your portfolio of qualifications
At no point throughout your HR career should you ever stop learning and acquiring new certifications. When it comes to applying for your first management position, the extra one or two certificates you have included in your CV really can give you an advantage over other applicants for the role.
Take a couple of CIPD training courses or qualifications, an NVQ in Human Resources Management or any other HR related programs you can find.
Combined with the real-world experience you should also be acquiring 'on the job', you will soon find that you have the necessary skills and knowledge to begin considering the next stage of your HR career.
HR is a field which is constantly changing. New management techniques are introduced on a regular basis, and global data on recruitment trends has the ability to change on a weekly basis.
Therefore, you should ensure that you always have the latest information to hand, so if you are ever asked your opinion on a new strategy by your current line manager or director, you can easily impress them with your knowledge and enthusiasm.
These impressions really do matter to senior managers, and you may find yourself given extra responsibilities once you have proven yourself capable of rising to them.
Hone your interviewing technique
Successfully being recruited for your first HR management role can be incredibly difficult. Why? Think about the applicants you will be facing – all are likely to be HR professionals, and all will have been involved with the recruitment process dozens, if not hundreds, of times before!
These are people who know HR inside out. They know every interviewing technique, and they know the importance and hidden influence of good people management. Put simply, you're going to have to interview enormously well even to have a shot at the role.
However, this problem is not insurmountable. Practice your interviewing technique on a regular basis, study the multitude of literature available online to refine your bad habits, and work on successfully highlighting your most positive traits.
Always ensure that when the times comes for your first HR management interview, you are more than ready to step up to the challenge.