Director - HR Morgan McKinley
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HR job seeking: how to stand out in a crowded market

With global markets in turmoil, the demand for HR professionals is as high as ever, but there are a few things candidates can do to position themselves at the top of a recruiter’s list.

12th Sep 2019
candidate in interview
iStock/Eva-Katalin

This year has been one of change on both a global and local level, and this evolving political and economic environment is drastically affecting how companies recruit.

In an unstable market, candidates can be nervous about their job prospects and reluctant to consider a move.

There are a number of reasons for this, the main one being the reduction in job opportunities and, in turn, this means there’s often a delay in the hiring process as businesses take their time to find the very best talent.

Despite this, the need for experienced and dynamic HR professionals remains high – the key is knowing how to present yourself.

In this article, I’ll offer some recommendations to help any HR professional stand out in this challenging market.

Skills to consider

Although there have been fewer roles released this year, a variety have become available as businesses go through continuous change programmes.

Transfer of Undertakings Protection of Employment (TUPE) or mergers and acquisitions (M&A) are particularly common, so candidates with experience of these are especially in demand.

Any exposure to these projects needs to be highlighted on a CV, giving specific details where possible.

While HR specialisms were clearly distinct in the past, many clients are now looking for a blended skill set. 

There are also a range of HR projects on the market involving technology change, so professionals who can display knowledge in these areas will put themselves in a strong position.

Similarly, in a shrinking world, any global experience such as working in Europe, the Middle East and Africa (EMEA), Asia Pacific countries, or Latin America, is extremely beneficial and should be demonstrated on your CV.

Although people are at the centre of HR, data is critical in allowing HR professionals to problem solve and help businesses make decisions and projections.

For this reason, and in order to really stand out, candidates should ensure any experience with HRIS (human resources information systems) is clearly outlined, and any experience managing or producing management information is highlighted.

A few of the most popular HR Systems that are beneficial to highlight on your CV would be: Workday, SAP, Oracle, Agresso, Northgate, SuccessFactors and CoreHR.

Look past the job title

HR roles are complex and can hold different meanings in each organisation.

When writing your CV you need to write both about all the responsibilities and roles you’ve taken on, as well as your achievements and successes.

Organisations are looking to offer cost savings whilst still adding value wherever possible, and the HR function is no different.

While HR specialisms were clearly distinct in the past, many clients are now looking for a blended skill set and may request candidates that can be agile in the workplace, covering larger remits or multiple functions.

When you are highlighting projects on your CV, be sure to focus on the achievement rather than the task.

For example, an L&D professional may now be requested to be involved in the wider talent piece, or an HR generalist could be asked to work closely with payroll.

Candidates need to consider this when highlighting their experience. Any project work or partnership work needs to be emphasised and candidates need to evidence experience outside of the traditional job roles.

Job titles can be intimidating and confusing. Always take the time to understand the role and responsibilities.

Do your research or talk to your recruiter about the hierarchy and structure of the business before committing to or rejecting any opportunities.  

Personality is key

With the largest and busiest projects in HR being linked to capability, engagement and change, an HR professional’s personality, character and rapport building skills are their most important assets.

The ability to deliver quick and often sensitive messages to a business in a clear and empathetic manner is vital.  

When you are highlighting projects on your CV, be sure to focus on the achievement rather than the task.

Talk about what you achieved (and how) rather than just what you managed.

Reading about successes and your methodology will allow potential employers to forge an understanding of you and see how you could add value to their business.

This is obviously easier to establish in an interview, but another way to demonstrate this on a CV is to think about the language you use.

Using specific terminology or wording that mirrors the job description and company website is a simple, yet effective step.

This will enable the reader to relate to it and feel comforted, and will help you to start building a rapport before any interview has even been requested.

Finally, don’t be afraid to ask questions and follow up. It is important to stay motivated throughout the process, especially over the summer months, so if you have any queries or concerns call to the business and/or your recruiter, be open to feedback and stay positive.

Interested in this topic? Read Personal development: why and how you need to maintain your non-HR skills.

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