Tips to further your career in not-for-profit HR

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Maximise your HR potential with this advice from TPP recruitment

Glen Manners
Glen Manners

We spoke to Glen Manners, business manager for TPP, about the different ways HR professionals could work to improve their career skills in the charity sector. He had these helpful pointers to share.

Get qualified

Showing the initiative to get an industry known qualification early on in your career can be greatly beneficial. The CIPD offers one of the most well known and respected HR qualifications available for those looking to develop their skills and widen their career possibilities.

Maximising your learning and development opportunities can stop your CV from being overlooked. Membership organisations like the CIPD offer internal networking and shared learning programmes that will help you take your career to the next level.

Specialise early - it will give you an edge in your career

Focus on specialising in one area like recruitment, payroll, employee relations or payment and rewards - before you go on to generalist HR roles in the charity sector.

Whilst generalising at the beginning of your career does mean you can learn a variety of HR functions quickly, specialising will help you establish and grow your seniority quickly.

Developing your knowledge of areas such as volunteer management or flexible working can help to establish you as an expert.

Don’t rely on strict HR policies to fix recurring issues

Gather the relevant information, be aware of the issues at hand and how they are affecting the people involved. It will benefit you and your department to learn not to always rush to control the risk. It is ultimately better to understand why something has happened before applying quick regimented fixes.

Currently, we are seeing charities go through continual restructuring, as they seek to constantly improve efficiency. Whether these involve redundancies or simply reorganisation, the constant state of flux involved can be very stressful for employees. Good HR professionals should empathise with this and take it into account when dealing with workplace issues.

Have a collaborative working spirit

Working cross departmentally is key for HR professionals in the not-for-profit sector. At the sector’s heart, collaboration is the motivator behind many of a charity’s successes.

If you’re starting out, having the experience of working with other departments is a valuable career skill. Being able to show how your role ultimately links to the organisation’s beneficiaries will really make you a stand out as a candidate for promotion.

Don’t lose focus on your main responsibilities

HR often means you are required to take on extra responsibilities outside of your role, like managing payroll, especially in smaller not-for-profit organisations where doubling up on roles is a norm.

Just remember that whilst showing that you’re flexible and willing to do extra things is good, taking on too many responsibilities could pull you away from focusing on your core HR skills and the tasks at hand.

Keep yourself updated

Stay up to date with the latest trends, issues and systems in the HR industry. Join LinkedIn groups and pages to network and glean information from your peers and seek news and updates from sites like People Management. When you’re interviewing - being able to display knowledge surrounding your industry not only shows that you’re interested but that you’re invested.

Have you been out of work for some time? Consider temp work

Temp work could be the answer for those of you worried about employment gaps on your CV. It’s an opportunity to broaden your skill set and gain experience in different types of organisations and working environments. 

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