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Friday, January 18, 2008

From Politics to HR

I read on your blog that you got an MA in Political Science. I have just graduated with a BA in Political Science and HR is a career path I am mulling right now. I was wondering if you could advise me on how I might go about getting started. Are post-graduate qualifications necessary or advisable? I don't intend on getting an MA or MBA for the foreseeable future, but you never know. One option is a graduate diploma in HRM, since I know a year-long part-time course that would get me that. Would that be a good idea?

Is it better to go the corporate HR route, or would consulting be more rewarding? How about staffing/executive search? Is there anything specific from Political Science that can be applicable to an HR career?

Thank you for your patience. I hope you can impart some of your experience to a fresh graduate still trying to find some patch of firm ground to stand on.

Ahh, political science. A delightful major. Yes, some of it applies to HR. On your cover letter just emphasize that you studied and understand the following:

  • Corruption
  • Bureaucracy
  • Political Wrangling
  • Entitlements
  • How to make people feel good about your proposed policies without actually explaining what those policies are.

  • Ha, ha, ha! Ahh, school. Loved it. I don't know if consulting would be more rewarding then corporate life, but I also would hate to hire the consulting firm that hired you. Why? Not because you aren't brilliant (all of us poli sci majors are brilliant), it's that you don't know anything yet.

    You say that HR is something you are "Mulling over." Great. Mull over a whole bunch of things, but when you are in a interview and when you are writing those cover letters and tweaking your resume, you better make me believe that HR is your one true calling. I want someone that wants this job, not a job.

    My honest and true recommendation? If you can't find an HR job waiting for you upon graduation, pick up the phone and call all the temporary agencies in the area. Tell them you'll do anything--typing, filing, alligator wrestling--as long a it's in an HR department. People will hire you as a temp when they would never think about hiring you in a permanent position. (Of course, my regular readers know that there is no such thing as a permanent position.)

    Working as a temp will allow you to learn the language and enough skills to be able to get a real job in an HR department 6 months down the road. When you've procured the job, work on getting your master's or your MBA. I don't recommend an MBA to anyone until they've worked. How can you expect to "master" business when you don't know anything about it?

    Good luck! And I hope you enjoyed the Federalist Papers as much as I did.


    Anonymous said...

    That is exactly how I got into HR, started as a temp at a temp agency calling reference checks all day, I did it or 6 months which was able to help me to get a full time job somewhere else because I finally had some kind of hr expereince.

    Anonymous said...

    Wow you called references all day for six months. That must have been really hard. I think for me it would blur into one big conversation. That is sweet though that you were able to stay with it which ultimately landed you a step up. I think that is a good lesson: start with where you are and learn the skills to make your moves one step at a time.