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STEP 5: Get into an HR Program

STEP 5: Get into an HR Program


March 01, 2008

It is always helpful to have an internship or prior exposure to HR if you are applying for an HR degree. If you don’t have direct HR experience, however, don’t give up. This is your chance to demonstrate that you understand what skills are required to be a successful HR professional, and what you have done to build your abilities accordingly. Experiences you can highlight on your resume that have HR relevance include: psychology or any activities targeted towards understanding human behavior and motivation; communication skills; research and statistics; business acumen.

Building strong recommendations

The application process almost always includes recommendations. If you have been out of school for less than two years, it is appropriate to ask former professors to write recommendations for you. If you have been out of school for longer than a few years, you should ask managers or teammates from your current job for your recommendations. In some cases, it is acceptable to not have a direct manager, but the lead of a project that you contributed significantly on, or a non-work engagement, such as a volunteer organization that you have worked with.

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The process is fairly straightforward: You request a recommendation from someone, and he or she agrees, fills out a form, and sends it directly to the school. It’s good practice to check in regularly with your referrers to ensure that they get their letters in on time. By the same token, get your requests for recommendations way before the deadline to avoid last-minute chaos.

Getting good grades

Whether or not you agree with the philosophy of using grades and entrance test scores as a proxy for intelligence and future performance, the reality is that until a better system comes about, these will continue to be a critical factor in your admission decision. Many programs will create a composite score of your GPA and your GRE/GMAT scores to ensure you meet some minimum threshold for admission

So, when it comes down to it, there is no better way to boost your application than to get good grades. And there is no better way to get good grades than to actually work hard when you have the chance. So get cracking on that homework!

Writing impressive personal statements

The personal statement is your shot at explaining why you are the best candidate for the program of your choice, all in 1000 words. How is it done?

There are two simple rules to follow:

1) Be authentic. Don’t use bigger words than you would normally use or pretend to have dreams about things you just don’t care about. Try to describe honestly why this is the right program and career path for you. And if you are still on the fence, click here to find out if HR is the right career for you.

2) Be different. Think about how many applications the admissions committee gets about liking people and wanting to make the world a better place. Be different; focus on how you have done things instead of why you like them, and don’t be afraid to showcase something from the non-professional aspect of your life.

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