What is a head office, anyway? Every big business is a kingdom, and what does every kingdom need? A castle, of course. Every company needs a base of operations where big decisions can be made to shape the way the whole company works.
Big businesses call their headquarters the ‘head office’. A way to make sense of the name is that the head or brain controls the body. In the same way, the business HQ (headquarters) controls everything the business does to function and grow.
Big businesses may have more than one head office – they might even have several HQs dotted around the country. This makes it easier for a business to keep products and services always on the go as the company expands. It also makes things easier for you if you like a brand and you want to get a head office job with them. If that company is big enough to have several head offices, you can apply for a job at the one nearest you.
What are head office jobs, then? So what’s meant by ‘head office jobs’ and what should you look out for?
There are some job types that every big business needs to run properly. These areas are sometimes referred to as ‘corporate functions’. Head office jobs are in the areas of finance, HR (human resources), IT and marketing. Depending on the type of business you’d be working for, they could also include jobs in supply chain (the logistics of moving products around) and legal jobs.
People working in head office jobs help the whole company make all the right moves. They help to make sure that fantastic products and services are available at the right price wherever and whenever people need them. These jobs – often based in the office – can be found at the company’s head office. Some corporate functions take place outside the office – for example, a head office could be in one city but the IT and technology team might be based in another.
What makes head office jobs so special? There’s one big thing you need to know about head office jobs. It’s an open secret... everyone knows it, but it’s not often talked about. So let’s shout it out loud:
LITERALLY EVERY BIG COMPANY IN THE UK HAS HEAD OFFICE JOBS.
That’s right. Every big company you can think of. Why should you care? It’s good to know because building your career around a head office job gives you flexibility in life. Room to move. The chance to work for almost any company in the UK. The opportunity to work all over the country (either for different companies, or for different head offices belonging to the same company). The chance to work in big departments with lots and lots of room for career progression.
Some head office jobs, like those in technology, may need you to have specific skills before you start. With many of them, you can get a foot in the door with good passing grades in GCSEs or their equivalents and learn on the job (or apprenticeship, or higher apprenticeship, or graduate scheme). You can work your way up from a junior position, and big companies will help you do that.
What’s great about working in one of the corporate functions is it allows you to mix what you love with what you might be good at. It gives you a chance to explore different ways of working in your dream industry. Say you love fashion and have a way with numbers – you could explore working in finance for your favourite fashion brand. If you’re good with people and catch all the latest bands or TV shows, you could look into an HR (human resources) role for organisations like Universal Music or the BBC.
Have we piqued your interest? Then check out these head office business areas below. Which role could be a great fit for you?
IT head office jobs Big company databases need IT staff to keep them running, and nearly every business has an online presence of some kind to attract customers. Whether you’re a network-knowledgeable pro or just want to build on your basic IT skills, every big company these days has a tech team. You could be a part of it!
See: Software, Games and Internet World
Head office IT and technology career guides from employers Useful skills: Tech skills, willingness to learn new things
How to get into an IT career at BP Discover IT & systems engineering careers at BT How to become a technology officer at Barclays How to get on a technology apprenticeship at Accenture How to become a software e-security engineer at Thales
Finance head office jobs Dream of working in finance? Big companies need people who understand how money works to look after their bookkeeping. There are all kinds of accountancy and finance roles available.
Useful skills: Maths, logic, organisation See: Money World Example employer: BDO HR head office jobs DID YOU KNOW? HR stands for 'human resources', a vital function of all large companies. It’s so important because HR professionals help the people in a company work at their best. They hire, train and develop employees. They also look at how the employees in a company get rewarded for their hard work. They deal with legal issues, help to shape a company or organisation’s culture, and focus on what keeps people productive and inspired. If you like people and business, an HR career combines the two!
Useful skills: business savvy, interpersonal (people) skills, tact, discretion See: HR World Useful organisation: CIPD Sales and marketing head office jobs It’s not enough to have a perfect product or super service. Customers have to know about it, and they have to be convinced it’s worth getting! There’s a lot of brand competition about, so most big companies have a marketing department to get their name out there. Content, PR, social media, sales and advertising... there are so many ways to increase a brand’s profit and get people saying good things about what the brand has to offer.
Useful skills: Persuasion, interpersonal (people) skills, negotiation, organisation See: Sales and Marketing World Example employer: EE Supply chain head office jobs Think how much is involved in getting a piece of clothing made in a factory and sent to a shop. Seasonal trends have to arrive on the shelves this season or no-one will want them! There’s no point selling winter coats in the middle of June! Retail brands have to think about these things all the time, which is why they have big supply chain departments. Supply chain jobs look at transport and logistics – in other words, making sure that anything the company uses or makes gets where it’s needed.
Useful skills: Organisation, attention to detail See: Production Line World Example employer: Siemens Check out Plotr’s Opportunities Finder to see what entry-level jobs, apprenticeships and graduate schemes are on offer!