As a graduate looking to get into human resources (HR), it may seem as if your options are virtually unlimited – after all, every organisation needs HR staff. However, there is one easy way to narrow down your job hunt. Some employers offer HR schemes specifically for graduates alongside their other training programmes.
HR graduate schemes are usually open to all degree disciplines, although some employers will ask for HR experience – either through your degree or work experience. Some employers ask for a minimum 2.1; others want a 2.2 or above.
It’s common for HR graduate programmes to involve ‘rotating’ through placements in various teams to gain experience of different aspects of human resources, such as employee relations, learning and development, reward management and recruitment. The scheme could take the form of four six-month placements, for example.
Many programmes give you the option to work towards widely recognised Chartered Institute of Professional Development (CIPD) qualifications.
To give you a head start, here’s a selection of 2020 HR graduate schemes in a range of industries:
- Amey’s business graduate programme includes the option to work in its HR central function.
- Balfour Beatty offers a two-year HR scheme within its business graduate programme.
- Skanska runs a human resources graduate programme.
- Accenture runs a two-year rotational human resources talent accelerator programme.
Energy and engineering
- Airbus offers a HR graduate scheme, with placements in Broughton and Filton.
- Babcock International Group runs a human resources graduate programme in its aviation and marine businesses.
- BP offers a rotational three-year HR graduate programme.
- Ford UK runs a graduate HR programme, which involves moving through a variety of roles during your first few years.
- GE runs a human resources leadership programme (HRLP), consisting of three eight-month rotations in core HR domains.
- Nissan offers a two-year HR scheme in Sunderland.
- nucleargraduates offers a two-year human resources programme consisting of three secondments with partners of the programme. Organisations looking to sponsor HR graduates include Sellafield Ltd and the Nuclear Decommissioning Authority (NDA).
- Raytheon runs a rotational HR graduate leadership development programme.
- Schlumberger recruits graduates into four human resources roles: compensation and benefits analyst, HR analyst, HR representative and transaction administrator.
- Shell runs a three-year human resources programme that includes two job rotations.
- Bank of Ireland offers a two-year HR graduate programme, mostly based in Dublin, with some opportunities for rotations in the UK.
- J.P. Morgan runs a two- to three-year rotational human resources programme.
- KPMG offers a two-year business services graduate programme, which includes its ‘people’ area of work.
- NFU Mutual runs a three-year human resources graduate scheme.
- RBS runs a two-year human resources graduate programme, structured around four six-month rotations in different areas of HR. You’ll be primarily based in Edinburgh but there may be a requirement to spend a rotation in Manchester or London.
- Santander offers a two-year HR graduate programme, rotating between teams every six months.
- The NHS runs a human resources graduate management training scheme.
- Mitchells & Butlers’ head office graduate opportunities include a 12-month HR scheme.
- Whitbread offers a HR graduate programme.
IT and technology
- BT runs a two-year HR graduate programme in London, rotating between BT’s businesses at six-monthly intervals.
- Fujitsu offers a 24-month human resources graduate programme with three rotations.
- Samsung offers a rotational people graduate scheme based in Surrey.
- Virgin Media offers a People (HR) graduate scheme, which lasts for two years and involves rotations in different HR teams.
- Vodafone runs a two-year HR graduate programme, during which you’ll rotate through three HR teams.
Logistics, transport and supply chain
- DHL runs a 24-month human resources graduate programme with two 12-month placements.
- Gist offers a human resources graduate scheme, which involves a number of placements over an 18- to 24-month period.
- Network Rail runs a three-year rotational human resources graduate scheme.
- Royal Mail offers a two-year HR graduate programme across a range of HR disciplines and locations.
Public service and charity
- You can apply for a HR officer job with the Army.
- British Heart Foundation offers a 24-month HR graduate programme in its people and organisational development team, based across London and Surrey.
- Cancer Research UK runs a two-year HR graduate scheme, which involves working within a generalist HR function.
- There is an HR option for graduates looking to join the Civil Service Fast Stream.
Retail and consumer goods
- Associated British Foods – Grocery runs a two-year human resources scheme, where you’ll divide your time in half, experiencing both commercial and operations teams.
- Boots offers a two-year HR graduate scheme in Nottingham.
- Bakkavor runs a two-year human resources graduate programme, and you are likely to work both within a factory function and central HR functions.
- Diageo offers a two-year HR graduate programme, with the potential to complete a placement elsewhere in Europe.
- Morrisons runs a two-year people management scheme.
- Ocado offers an 18-month human resources graduate programme with placements in corporate, operations and regional HR teams.
- Unilever runs a three-year HR scheme as part of its future leaders programme.
Science and research
- AstraZeneca offers a three-year rotational HR graduate programme in Cambridge.
- GSK’s future leaders graduate programme includes a human resources option, which is two-year scheme with four rotations.
If HR consulting (advising clients on HR policies and issues) appeals to you more than working in the HR department of one employer, a few companies offer graduate schemes in this area.
- Aon’s graduate programme includes an employee benefits broking and consulting stream.
- Deloitte offers a human capital graduate programme.
- PwC recruits graduates into its people and organisation practice and human resource management (HRM) practice (both come under its jobs in tax on its careers website).
- Willis Towers Watson runs a two-year development programme, which includes the options of talent consulting and human capital and benefits.
Graduate schemes that include HR rotations
If gaining experience of a few corporate roles before specialising in HR appeals to you, look out for employers that offer general business or head office graduate schemes. These usually involve rotating around different business areas before choosing which one you want to pursue in a full-time role. Here are a few to consider.
- MI5’s business enablers entry scheme involves undertaking corporate roles across a range of business areas and you can go on to specialise in HR (or finance, legal or security) .
- Newton Europe offers a two-year head office graduate programme, with four-month placements in areas such as recruitment and talent development, alongside finance, events, marketing and more.
- Stagecoach runs a two-year graduate leadership programme, which involves placements in different areas of the business, including people, marketing, operations and commercial.
Does it matter which sector you choose?
It’s clear from the list above that there are HR graduate schemes available in most industries. So, does it matter which one you get a job in?
Well, first off, it’s important that you find a job you enjoy doing. That’s more likely to happen if you choose an employer and industry that you find interesting.
Also, while HR graduate schemes usually cover similar ground, there may be slight differences between sectors, especially once the graduate scheme ends and you settle into a permanent role. For example, a global finance company will have very different employee and recruitment challenges to a not-for-profit organisation. For tech companies, recruitment and rewards are often priorities for the HR team in order to get and retain the best talent. If you work for a construction firm, health and safety will likely be a focus area. If trade unions are active in your chosen industry, a lot of time may be spent on employee relations.