We are lucky at HR Search to have a lovely bunch of down to earth, open & honest clients and a great network of passive and active candidates that we partner with at various stages throughout their career. Part of my job is finding the right match outside the job description. This to me doesn’t mean “culture fit” which is a word that is overused, but a blend of the overall background, experience in specific areas, approach to HR, skills, and communication style.
Looking back over the past couple of months – here is a summary of what the main priorities are for both candidates and clients. Bearing in mind every role has a different remit and focus, but these are areas that tend to cross over time after time!
What are the top things clients are looking for in their potential HR employees?
- Ability to partner with the business – This comes up even when it is not a business partner role, and comes down to understanding what drives a business outside the people agenda, ability to get buy in from and deliver on set objectives and most importantly is understanding your client group and communicating accordingly
- Resilience – this is a word that comes up quite regularly due to the changing nature of a lot of organisations for different reasons (reporting lines/ M&A/ re orgs/ tech change) and this normally means from a HR perspective being able to confront a challenge with a positive and value add mindset (not get your knickers in a twist!)
- Industry specific areas – Very rarely a client says that a specific industry background is a must. However, there are elements that may be essential– for example an FS organisation may need someone who is comfortable in a regulated environment
- An overall description of a candidate who can be successful throughout interview processes would have strong technical experience depending on the level (either in the general HR space or specialised) and characteristics include – professional, switched on, attention to detail, with an ability to read people and situations correctly, approachable, motivated with a good level of enthusiasm, energy and engagement for their chosen area of work. A bright spark, someone who the business enjoys working with even through change/ challenging parts of a HR role
What are the top things that HR candidates are looking for in their potential employers?
- Who they report into and the team structure – this is one of the most important factors when it comes to a candidate applying for or accepting a role. Continuous learning through strong HR leadership is a priority for many
- How HR is viewed within a business – whether the HR Manager/ HRD is viewed in terms of structure and level and whether they sit on the top team in terms of strategic business decisions is a strong indication of whether HR is viewed as a purely transactional function or as a value add throughout the biz. This is important to many candidates at every level. No top HR person wants to work in a company where HR is seen as just a personnel function
- Work life balance/ flexibility – I rarely meet HR professionals who want to clock off at 5/5.30pm, but nobody can sustain working intense hours with rigidity on a long-term basis. Personal life is important too. There is an expectation out there that if a person does their job to a high standard, in return there will be flexibility of working hours and pace – this may be “flexi time”, a compressed week, working from home, or even down to the ability to leave early for an appointment.
- Interesting project/ strategic work – HR, as a discipline will always have administrative & transactional duties & these play a part in most HR professionals roles. The juicy stuff, what excites top candidates, is forward thinking projects and initiatives that essentially keep them learning and progressing through a discipline that is constantly changing. Some HR teams are in a rut where a huge amount of work is reactionary, and while an element of firefighting can be exciting, most people are seeking roles that are more forward thinking in nature
I love the detail around my role and really understanding what drives both our candidates and clients to make a decision. There is lots of interesting and dynamic HR progression happening throughout all industries in Ireland, with some top HR professionals leading the way.