Almost every organisation now has Human Resource (HR) staff in some capacity. The HR function is at the heart of good business performance: in order for organisations to succeed it is essential that they make effective use of their people, and the HR role is key in achieving this.

Recruitment is a major function of HR and roles in this area are sometimes in-house or in a consultancy. Although most graduate opportunities are within large commercial organisations with large HR teams or in the large public sector employers, opportunities exist in organisations of all sizes.

Where do I start?

Within the Recruitment and HR sector there are a range of occupations, Prospects has a useful list of job profiles each containing relevant information about key responsibilities, skill requirements, starting salaries, entry requirements, career prospects with links to major employers and current graduate vacancies.

Jobs roles

Finding opportunities

As part of your job-hunting strategy you will need to keep up to date on developments in this sector and keep track of any vacancies that are coming up. Below are some key resources to help you research opportunities available. The knowledge gained through your research may help you to target your applications and will help when preparing for interviews.

  • Targetjobs – General careers website with dedicated HR and recruitment information for graduate roles.
  • Chartered Institute of Personnel Development – Useful website for daily human resources news, employment law updates, features and comments on personnel issues.
  • HR Magazine – Website covers the latest in Human Resource research and trends through in-depth reports and insightful interviews.
  • Recruiter – Online resource for recruitment professionals. Get the latest news, jobs, features and insight from across all industry sectors.

Getting experience

Competition for jobs in this sector is high and work experience could be the deciding factor to securing a graduate job. Undertaking work experience is invaluable in developing expertise and the all-important transferable skills, which will help you demonstrate your motivation and commitment to this area of work.

However, finding experience will take time and effort; employers receive many CVs every week so you will have to work hard to stand out from the crowd. You can find out more about how to create a targeted CV through the Careers and Employability Service website.

The key to success is to prepare thoroughly, do your research and organise your experience in good time. Think about small and medium size companies as well as large organisations.


Getting involved in volunteering gives you the opportunity to develop employability skills and experience a variety of working environments to assist you in discovering the right career path for you. It provides the chance to network, meet new friends and boost your confidence.

Volunteering also enables you to gain practical experience and working examples to support your graduate applications. If you choose to commit a significant amount of time and impress the organisation during your volunteering, they may also provide you with a professional reference.

Volunteer to get practical experience

Approaching local organisations, charities or community groups who would benefit from your skills is one way of gaining that all-important experience. The competencies developed will be invaluable and enhance any speculative applications you make.

The Careers and Employability Service offers current students and graduates access to a Virtual Volunteering Bank, which provides local opportunities to undertake alongside your studies. Similarly, you can access these opportunities through the paper-based bank located in the Careers and Employability Centre.

Examples of Recruitment and HR related support roles that the Volunteering Team have previously advertised and recruited for include:

  • Office Administrator Volunteer with Learning Links – updating databases and information systems, taking minutes, greeting clients, gaining admin and customer service skills.
  • Trainee Generalist Adviser Volunteer with Citizens Advice – interviewing clients, negotiating, drafting or writing letters, completing clear and accurate case records, acting where necessary, on behalf of the client.
  • Volunteer Coordinator with Citizens Advice Portsmouth – managing volunteers, agreeing work roles, individual duties and working arrangements with each volunteer. Coordinating the induction programme and training.
  • Reception Volunteer with Age UK Portsmouth – delivering excellent customer service to effectively support service users through providing general guidance and signposting individuals to relevant services and products.
  • Administration Volunteer with The Roberts Centre – assisting with a variety of administrative tasks, including data inputting, statistics collection and inputting and dealing with enquiries over the telephone.

If you have any questions regarding the volunteering opportunities available to you in Portsmouth then please contact the Volunteering Team on email

Tips to build experience

  • Get involved in relevant university societies or external groups where you can practice and develop the transferable skills relevant to a recruitment or HR role or take on HR-related tasks.
  • Research opportunities to mentor as a volunteer, this is excellent experience and will provide great examples of skills that are required for roles in the sector.
  • Be proactive and make direct contact with organisations that interest you and apply speculatively; send a targeted CV and a covering letter focused on why you are interested in them and why they should be interested in you.
  • Create a LinkedIn profile to network with sector employers – see our Networking with Social Media section for further guidance.
  • If you wish to instigate voluntary work experience during the vacation periods please refer to the 'External sites' on the voluntary work experience section of our website.

Finding a job

HR has become increasingly popular with employers as they come to appreciate the legal and financial implications of not having good HR. Organisations offer specific graduate programmes and entry level positions to enable graduates to get a foothold. Vacancies are advertised on individual organisations' (in both private and public sectors) websites, as well as in journals and newspapers.

Larger organisations usually hire for their HR Graduate programmes between September to December each year, so check the websites of the firms you are interested in early, to confirm the dates and deadlines. Vacancies may appear under other sectors as well as HR, e.g. Human Capital Management, General Management, Administration, or the sector of the organisation's main business, for example an HR vacancy at a bank may well come under the finance sector. Recruitment consultancies often advertise vacancies throughout the year.

Useful websites to help you start your job search

  • Personnel Today – Online resource with comprehensive job vacancies listing and useful careers advice in article form.
  • Changeboard – Provides a broad range of vacancies across the sector and across different industries.
  • Local Government Jobs – Listings of current vacancies in local authorities UK wide. Search on 'Personnel Assistant' or similar to find a number of HR entry level posts suitable for new graduates.
  • Simply HR jobs – Specialist job site for the HR sector.
  • Targetjobs – Website dedicated to graduate jobs, work experience, news, careers advice and deadlines, with sections specific to recruitment and HR.
  • Graduate-jobs – Dedicated HR section provides information on HR jobs around the UK.
  • Milkround – Information on 100’s of internships and work experience opportunities across the UK and Worldwide.
  • The Guardian – National newspaper with dedicated careers/jobs section including information on HR schemes.

Tips for finding a job

  • Keep your online job search flexible as some employers might use different titles to describe the same job role.
  • Most companies have a Twitter and/or Facebook account, register with them as this is often a place where new opportunities are posted, and where you can keep in touch with their current activities .
  • Be realistic - you may need to consider relatively junior roles to get your career off to a start, but entry positions of a clerically-based nature will give you opportunity to develop your craft.
  • Get networking - check our employer events and attend them to build links and gain information on the sector.
  • Keep abreast of employment law, the labour market, government policy changes or recruitment trends.
  • Read some of the numerous industry titles to stay updated on what's happening in the sector, and maintain an interest in business and commercial topics.


Further information

If you need more information why not check out some of the resources below to help you to research a sector in more depth.

  • Access the link register with our Graduate Recruitment Consultancy to sign up with the University of Portsmouth's very own on-campus graduate recruitment team.
  • Michael Page – Recruitment consultancy that regularly recruits graduates from any degree discipline as trainee recruitment consultants.
  • Reed – Provider of permanent, contract, temporary and outsourced recruitment solutions, IT and HR consulting.
  • Agency Central – UK's leading Recruitment Agencies and Job Sites Directory. To find specialist recruitment agencies, select an appropriate ‘skillset’ to bring up a list of suitable agencies.
  • People Management – Online magazine of the CIPD, HR and training careers
  • HR Zone – Articles on specialist HR topics

Contact us

The Careers and Employability Service offers support to students throughout their studies and provision for graduates up to five years after graduation, with advice and guidance on:

  • Career options
  • Further study
  • CV and covering letters
  • Application forms
  • Job search
  • Interviews

We have an online jobs board advertising a variety of graduate jobs across different sectors and locations. We also have a dedicated in-house Graduate Recruitment Consultancy that delivers a personalised job matching service.


Get in touch with us