Little scope to expand my HR role in small charity

I work for a small third sector organisation, which last year paid for my level 3 Foundation course, and am now a Foundation member. 

As the organisation is around 16 people from the CEO down there is, on the surface, very little scope to expand into a HR role from my current (Research Assistant). I have seen elsewhere that getting into a HR role is very competitive and I don't feel like I have the HR skills on my CV to actually move into the sector. 

Do I play on my transferable skills and interest of law/policy and/or ask to take on some of the HR at my current org. to build a practical base? 

I would be interested to hear opinions on what hiring managers would be looking most for and from those who have entered HR from another field

Thank you. 


  • If you can take on some of the HR tasks in your organisation that would be ideal IMO

    Good luck
  • In reply to Keith:

    Thank you Keith
  • Even in a small enterprise, there's quite a lot that can be done to build relevant experience for a future step into a more substantial role. Start by reviewing the charity's people policies. Although a full staff handbook is certainly overkill for an organisation of 16 employees, there are still policies that you are required to have by law. Often, SMEs will get started with off-the-shelf versions that tick the boxes but don't really serve the needs of the enterprise.

    Not only will a review give you valuable experience in policy development, but will also make you your organisation's expert in those policies and procedures, guaranteeing involvement in any employee relations casework that might pop up.

    You don't say what your organisation does, but does it also have volunteers? Charities often have more volunteers and employees and, although volunteers sort of sit outside the HR umbrella, it is often down to HR in charities to clearly define where and how the line is drawn. Getting involved in this will be useful to any future role in another charity, but is also surprisingly useful in business (where it is very common to get enquiries about opportunities to "volunteer for experience"), so an understanding of the law around volunteering is good to cultivate.

    Finally, is there any aspiration for the charity to grow at all? If so, they will need to recruit. The process of preparation for recruitment, advertising, selection and onboarding is all good, solid HR experience that you should try to get into.

    But don't sweat it too much. Entry-level HR Administrator and Assistant roles don't require much in the way of core HR experience. A Level 3 qualification and good experience in administrative tasks is usually sufficient to open doors.
  • What was the logic behind the business paying for your HR course and did they have any expectations for what you would do with the qualifications?
  • In reply to Robey:

    Thank you for the reply, these are some really interesting points!

    We do have a full handbook which was updated by an external firm recently(!)

    It is a charity due to being a not-for-profit research organisation so nothing in terms of volunteering but it is something I shall be reading into.

    I did have a part in on-boarding including updating the existing method but it garnish any attention so not sure if it was any good or not

    The feedback I have had from job applications was around lack of experience so maybe I need to give the CV another run through the CIPD tools
  • In reply to Steven :

    I'm not sure there was much logic to it in all honesty. I am, however, grateful for the generosity
  • Apologies, in advance, if this sounds too much like a rant..

    A colleague left just after the Christmas holiday therefore creating a vacancy. I knew he was leaving before it was officially announced.

    The Chief Exec said I can be part of the interview process. Yesterday I received an email asking if I can meet and great the candidates (the limit of my involvement), which is something I probably would have been doing anyway.

    Can't help feeling that is a slight insult to my skill set.

  • In reply to Holly:

    Can you offer some additional service to the Chief Exec as well as meet and greet? But don't discount the value of that.

    When we recruit for colleagues in our Directorate we ensure that the "meeter and greeter" has a couple of friendly questions lined up to ask ad to engage as much as possible. Then we ask for feedback from the "meeters and greeters".

    It can be really valuable (and sometimes eye-opening) to hear how a candidate treats their first contact - especially if they think (rightly or wongly) that the "meeter and greeter" is in a "junior" role.

    Behaviour at the formal interview and at the start and end of process can be very different and also enlightening! You could do a quick review and offer to share your observations with the interview panel?

  • In reply to Helen:

    Thank you Helen, I hadn't thought of it in that respect.
    When I came for an interview I didn't get any questions other than "do you want a drink" so it just felt a bit rubbish after both the CEO and my Line Manager built it up to have more involvement in the process as a whole
  • In reply to Holly:

    Well, maybe they are not sure what to suggest or have even forgotten what they offered? You don't have to go into full interview mode on the meet and greet and I appreciate you may not have much time but that's part of the recruitment process from both angles, so it may be really valuable for the candidate to have someone friendly and helpful meeting them, demonstrating what a great place it is to work - as well as you as potential employers seeing how they react outside the formal interview.
  • In reply to Helen:

    They're very good at over promising so most likely that.
    I typically meet/greet when we have visitors so I shall treat it as normal
  • In reply to Holly:

    I completely get the chance of a missed opportunity. Could you offer to your manager/the Chief Executive to support with other helpful tasks which would involve you more such as:
    *ensuring the interview questions/selection methods meet the criteria in the job (a spot of peer review)
    *coordinating the interview schedule, ringing candidates to check their availability
    *copying documents for the interview panel (or collating if you are not paper based)
    *creating some useful shortlisting grids
    *note taking in the interview
    *offering to provide feedback on the interview to the unsuccessful candidates

    All of these recruitment tasks will need doing - could you demonstrate your usefulness to your colleagues even if you're not in the room for the interview itself?

    Best of luck,

  • In reply to Gemma:

    Thank you Gemma.
    They appear to have done most of this already, which to me, is even more annoying as there is always the complaint of too much work to do.

    The CEO said they wanted to talk about it nearer the time so I shall offer to assist with anything then
  • In reply to Holly:

    What a shame! Well at least you have reminded them that you are ready and willing to help and apply your learning. Agree with Robey that the policy review is a great way to expand your knowledge and gain some practical exposure.
  • In reply to Gemma:

    It is odd, but one of the quirks of the organisation...
    I have been making a start at looking through the gargantuan handbook