Hi Leila! You started your HR career back in 2011, how have your roles developed since then?
I started my career in July 2011 after graduating in Human Resources from Portsmouth University. I was lucky enough to have a few internship roles and work as a volunteer HR Assistant whilst I was at university, which helped me to understand the theory elements of the course.
My first full-time job was at a global advertising firm Grey London where I started as HR Administrator. Here I had the most amazing exposure to every level of HR. I had a great manager who enabled me to get involved in everything that I wanted to, which meant that I was able to develop my knowledge really quickly and was swiftly promoted to HR Assistant where I stayed for a year and a half.
After working in a creative environment I moved to insurance company Kiln Group in order to grow my experience in as many industries as I could and experience a corporate environment. Here I saw a really different side to HR, one which had more strict processes and procedures than I was used to, however it was very interesting. After a year I was craving the creative environment again and moved on to ?WhatIf! Innovation. As a smaller company, I saw yet again a different take on HR, which developed my knowledge and improved my way of tailoring HR to a small and unique company.
My current role is HR Advisor at Vice Media. This is a fantastic company and it is great to work for a fast-paced and constantly growing organisation. It’s very exciting and no day is the same!
What’s the best thing about working in HR?
The variety – No day is ever the same. As an HR professional, we deal with a range of things from recruitment to employment law, so you always have to be alert! I am constantly learning new things, especially when it comes to employment law as things change regularly. Meeting new employees is also fantastic, and making sure they join our company happy and settle in quickly.
If you could change anything about the HR profession, what would it be?
How people perceive us. HR is one of those things that some people just don’t understand. You do get some people who really understand the role and what we are trying to do, and others that don’t.
This really makes a difference when you try and implement policies into the workplace or provide people with training. If they don’t understand why you’re doing what you’re doing, then they can be hard to convince.
I’d like people to know that the old school HR practice has long gone and I think when people understand that we are more than that, it will have a positive impact on business and people in the workplace.
What are your top tips for those just starting out in their career within HR?
Get as much experience as possible (although this is true for any role). When I was at university I had a volunteer HR role, which gave me great insight into the job and what it entailed. I then completed a few internships during the summer term.
Make sure you join relevant recruitment agencies, like Career Moves and speak to people like
(Senior Account Manager at Career Moves) who helped me to get onto the employment ladder.
Ensure that your CV is of a top spec and you cover every requirement for the roles you are applying for.
Being a people person, confident, approachable, helpful and trustworthy are just some of the traits you need to have in this role!
What prompted you to start your blog, The Job Searching Expert?
I was made redundant and whilst I was in-between roles and looking for a job, I was often online looking for relevant information on job searching. I just didn’t find anything useful and everything I did find was very corporate and structured. It was not tailored to the individual or from the voice of experience.
So, I joined WordPress, designed my site and in the first afternoon I had written four blog posts. From there it just grew. My passion is helping people, so writing and advising came naturally. I started to generate more and more posts and learnt the best ways to tag them to increase the number of views. I now have over 40 published articles on the site, with some featuring on LinkedIn. We also include guest posts from relevant people in the industry.
I have also found, amongst other things, that it has really helped my job applications and knowledge in my role!
The gender pay gap is a hot topic at the moment – what do you think about this?
The gender pay gap has always been an issue, however it is improving. There is some fantastic progress with more and more senior women within companies, such as Marissa Mayer (CEO at Yahoo) and Sheryl Sandberg (CEO at Facebook).
Women hold 16% of directorships at the UK’s 100 largest-listed companies. Compared to ten years ago when just 7.2% of board members were female. To make sure this is improved, the Government is giving businesses targets to meet, including telling FTSE 100 companies to have a minimum of 25% female directors by 2015.
I feel that we are making wonderful progress and gender equality is being recognised more and more, but I do still feel that we have a way to go.