Human Resources: How to Get Started

By Ashford University Staff

woman in meeting with other professionals

Beginning a career in a growing field such as human resources can cut both ways—you encounter both the potential for increased job prospects but also more competition for those positions. According to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics (2016), roles in human resources are expected to grow at or above the average rate for all other occupations. A great way to prepare for these HR job applications, interviews, and fierce competition is to stand out from the crowd with the wealth of knowledge you gain by earning your human resources degree online. Securing experience and meeting professionals in the field are additional ways to set yourself up for success in HR.

How to Earn Your Human Resources Degree

If you’re considering a career in human resources, a good first step is to build a foundation with an HR education. Jacquelyn Bullis, Academic Advisor at Ashford University, explains that a degree in human resources exposes you to many different facets of business and prepares you for various career paths. “You learn how a business operates from top to bottom, from payroll to hiring to investing,” Jacquelyn notes. “You get a little bit of everything. An HR education lets you learn the ins and outs of a successful business.”

Dr. Lora Reed, Program Chair for the BA in Human Resources Management at Ashford University, echoes Jacquelyn’s assessment. “What I’m really excited about in the program is we offer classes like Compensation & Benefits, Employee & Labor Relations, and the Human Resource Management,” says Dr. Reed. Ranging from general to specialized, the courses are designed to construct both a solid human resources education, as well as to provide insights into specific HR interests.

How to Expand Your HR Network

Increasing your exposure to HR through networking is another way to familiarize yourself and prepare to enter the field. “I always advise students to start building their network early in the HR program,” says Nicole Poff, Career Services Specialist at Ashford University. She recommends getting your foot in the door by doing research, meeting other human resources professionals, and getting involved with the virtual Forbes School of Business & Technology™ HRM Club. The online club is an official SHRM chapter; it meets once a month and hosts industry professionals with diverse experiences and specializations.

“The club is a great way to learn more about what HR is really like for a professional on a day-to-day basis,” says Emily Jarvis, recent graduate of the online BA in Human Resources Management program and President of the club. “I’ve met mentors, sought professional advice, and made strong connections through the club.”

How to Get HR Experience

If you’re interested in pursuing human resources as your career, Nicole, Jacquelyn, and Dr. Reed emphasize the importance of knowing what knowledge, skills, and abilities are required of your ideal position—and then reinforcing everything with experience. Jacquelyn notes, “Ideally, you should be gaining experience and working on specific skills for a future job while still in school.”

Nicole adds that even if you don’t have your dream position or title yet, you can still develop the skills needed for a specific job, meaning you’re that much more prepared when graduation comes around. “If you’re interested in using your HR degree to, say, become a recruitment manager, you should try to gain experience in reviewing resumes, even if it’s not in a recruitment manager capacity,” she explains.

From HR education to networking and experience, it’s important to start shaping your human resources career path early on. “You’ll never regret being ahead of the game,” says Jacquelyn.



Written by Kelsey Bober, Content Manager for Bridgepoint Education



United States Bureau of Labor Statistics. (2016). Occupational outlook handbook. Washington, DC: N.A. Retrieved from:

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