The most common answer candidates give when asked why they’ve chosen a career in Human Resources is that they love working with people. Whilst this is indeed an attractive quality, employers are looking for more. Given the increasingly competitive nature of HR, successful HR candidates need to be able to stand out in a field of similarly qualified competitors. Here are our top tips to make yourself an attractive HR candidate.
DO: Add value to an organisation
Prospective employers want to see that they are hiring someone who will have a significant impact on their department. The first thing they will look for in an HR candidate is that, at each stage of their career, they have added value to an organisation by; improving workflow, productivity, and employee wellbeing. The number one question to ask yourself is: how did my work directly benefit both the individuals and the company? Within HR it can be problematic to assess success purely based on figures, but it can be related to the processes that led to increased productivity. For example; the number of employee training courses conducted, the introduction of a new system for recruitment and a more effective way of managing employee benefits. These all add value to a company and should be highlighted in CVs and job applications.
DO: Demonstrate your commitment to professional learning
Regardless of where an HR professional is in their career, there is always the opportunity to develop. Considering the recently introduced new Learning & Development CIPD qualifications, along with an increase in the number of young people working to achieve their certifications sooner rather than later, the competition is now fiercer than ever. For instance, a candidate is a qualified counsellor, coach or psychotherapist is a much more attractive and impressive prospective employee. To stand out from the crowd, it is imperative that you keep your qualifications relevant and display them proudly on your CV!
DO: “Be the change you want to see”
If you see the need for change in an organisation, make it happen. Candidates that stand out to recruiters and employers are ones that instigate change. For instance, if you see that there is a problem with training and development at your organisation, be the driving force behind establishing procedures, protocols and training plans. Your endeavours will be recognized by your current employer and by future hiring managers.
DON’T: Assume that, because you work in HR, you know best
The mindset that: “I, as an HR professional, do not need help when preparing for a job interview, as I know what to expect.” is not going to benefit you. Everyone can use help to prepare for an interview, even seasoned HR professionals! Hiring managers interviewing candidates for a role in their own department will have high expectations &, therefore the interview process will be exacting. Working with a recruitment consultant who can provide specialist interview prep: tailored to your career & goals can give you a leg up over other candidates – sometimes a fresh perspective is what is needed.
DON’T: Choose a stagnant career path
HR titles differ organisation to organisation and the charity sector is no different. However, rank is not difficult to gather from a summary of responsibilities. A clear route of progression is attractive and staying at one level for too long could raise questions about your competency and motivation. Of course, progression takes time, but in order to build reputation and credibility you have to put in the leg work. With so many people climbing the HR career ladder, motivation to progress and improve is more vital now than ever. Make sure that if you want to move up you don’t wait too long.
DON’T: Change jobs too soon
This advice is pertinent to any job seeker and especially so in HR: an HR candidate cannot truly add value to an organisation if their stay is brief and unproductive. Whilst consultancy or contract roles are often favoured amongst more experienced HR professionals, it doesn’t look good early on in an HR career. This does not apply to temporary positions, where moving on from a position cannot be avoided and the experience gained outweighs is more important than the longevity of the role. However, chopping and changing permanent roles quickly will make you look non-committal – deterring future employers. Jumping between multiple roles of relatively similar stature will be as harmful to your career prospects as staying in one too long. The correct step would be to make well-planned moves that enable you to take on new challenges, when you’re ready for them, and to not jump around from job to job without structure.