Many universities now offer HR qualifications from under graduate to PhD level. AHRI, as the industry accrediting body for HR qualifications in Australia, provides a list of those courses which meet the accreditation requirements.
A recent AHRI survey of more than 1800 HR and non-HR professionals also rated general business, psychology and law degrees as offering suitable background for more specialised areas of HR.
In terms of 'other activities', as a full-time student, you are eligible to free student membership. Via this membership, you will have access to a wide range of activities that will supplement your studies, including joining specialist forums to form important relationships with people already in the industry. Finally, we would also strongly encourage you to seek opportunities for work placement to supplement your studies.
A pathway into an HR career is not always direct. Graduate positions aside, you will find a wide range of HR entry level positions, such as HR administrator and HR officer. In addition to these roles, your access may be via a PA or office manager position with some HR responsibilities such as workcover administration, rostering, administration for HR processes or WHS. Alternatively, resourcing or administration roles in recruitment firms may offer entry into recruitment or HR consulting roles. Of course temporary contracts in HR are another good way to build up your experience for your CV and often can convert into permanent roles.
To see what is on offer in the HR space, we'd encourage you to scan the AHRI HR:CAREERS website as well as visiting sites such as www.seek.com.au, www.careerone.com.au. www.mycareer.com.au.
Of course while you are looking, it would be a good idea to join HR networks such as AHRI specialist forums to form important relationships with people already in the industry. You can also become an AHRI member through AHRI Graduate Membership which is for those 25 years of age or under who have graduated from an HR related degree in the last two years. Part-time HR students are also eligible for graduate membership.
To increase your potential for moving into an HR role, an entry qualification such as AHRI's Foundations of HR or an AHRI accredited VET course can give you a taste of the HR industry and its many facets. The combination of work experience and a qualification will be a great sign to your current employer (or prospective employers) of your interest and enthusiasm.
It is not unusual for people to have grown 'within the industry' versus enter it as a result of having studied HR but sometimes qualifications can be a blocking point. The AHRI Professional Diploma of HR is the perfect course for people who have at least 2 years' experience, with little or no formal qualifications. This course is a post-graduate program, which means you don't have to invest years getting a bachelors' degree in HR and can leverage off your practical experience.
If you are feeling very enthusiastic to continue your studies, from this qualification you can go on to study a graduate diploma or masters of HR. For other higher education programs, you can visit the AHRI website for accredited courses.
You have a number of options to try.
One and most obvious is to go out on your own. Get an ABN and decide on a name for your new consulting business. The problem with this option is that unless you have very good networks that will help to promote you around the business community or you are particularly good at business development, it could take a while to get your first couple of jobs. To make this option work you will also need to have a 'product' that is marketable, innovative and credible.
Secondly, you could simply 'contract' your services out to different organisations by applying via HR:CAREERS [under contract roles] or visiting different companies home pages where they tend to advertise contract roles for specific purposes. You will still need an ABN and you will have to scout around for where performance management is the need.
Thirdly, sell your contracting / consulting services through an established consulting firm or recruitment firm. They find you work, they take a commission off your daily rate and you invoice them. Yes, you still need an ABN but you don't have to do the leg work or business development.
The downside on all of these is that you really should not limit yourself to just performance management if you want to work on a fairly steady basis. My view, get out there - take the HR project roles that are interesting and make sure you push performance management whilst you are working in the organisation.
The bottom line is having a number of strategies and contingency plans.