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  • Simran Sharma

Job Seeking: What Do HR Managers Look For?

So You’re Not HR

Not everyone wants a career in HR, but will end up interacting with them in one way or another. This includes recruitment, onboarding, and throughout your career in an organization. It’s important to know how to stand out from others during the recruitment process and what HR managers look for in applicants.

Recruitment Process

Job Seeking

As mentioned in our previous article, "The Basics: What Does an HR Manager Do" the recruitment process is extensive for HR managers. Most individuals first encounter the process when applying for a job. Career opportunities can be found through various resources, such as job boards, company websites/social media, and through educational institutions. Applicants should not only read the job description to understand if they have the necessary skills for the position, but also to gain a sense of the organization’s culture. Be sure to apply based on your position fit and your interest in being a part of the company, not because of the brand name. If you get a job with a high profile organization but don’t enjoy the position, it will reflect in your attitude and job performance.

The Interview

Once you have applied, the next stage is the interview process. This typically consists of a phone interview, and if done well, will lead to an in-person interview. Do your research about the organization prior to any type of interview, as this shows you are keen about the organization. Key things to identify are the organization’s core values, its history, and other important information related to its culture.

Practice, practice, and practice! Be prepared for interview questions such as “tell me about yourself,” “what’s your biggest strength/weakness,” and “tell me about a time when…” as these commonly asked questions. Mock interviews are an excellent resource to use in preparation for an interview. Finally, be sure to send a follow-up email/phone call to the interviewer to thank them!

Reference Check

References are very important, contrary to what many believe. 21% of applicants are removed from consideration after HR managers speak to their references. Ensure that you choose references that will be able to accurately speak of your accomplishments and experiences that are relevant to the position you are applying to.

Ask potential references before putting them on your reference list! They will be more likely to give an amazing review, but it also gives them a better understanding of the qualities they should highlight about you.

Job Offer

Congratulations! You got a job offer from your dream job, so what's next? Be sure to express gratitude to all those involved in the hiring process (HR managers, interviewers, etc.) and complete all paperwork in a timely manner as this is your first impression as an employee. Once completed, enjoy the position and continue to grow in the organization.

Characteristics of Potential Employees

Aside from education and work experience, HR managers look for certain qualities and characteristics in applicants. Based on job descriptions and research on the company culture, many can gain a sense of whether they will be a good fit to the organization. That is, how well would they fit with the corporate culture, which will be discussed later on. It is important to identify the various types of skills:

  1. Soft skills: Interpersonal skills that relate to one’s personality. Examples: communication, detail-orientated, empathy, conflict resolution, etc.

2. Hard skills: Technical skills are those that are quantifiable and measurable skills. These are the skills that would be written on an applicant’s resume and can be learned. Examples: accounting, web design, writing, etc.

3. Transferable skills: These skills can be applied to any position in an organization. Examples: critical thinking, problem solving, etc.

4. Job specific skills: These are the skills required for the specific position in an organization. Examples: JavaScript for an IT position

As a result, HR managers tend to focus on interpersonal skills as an applicant may have ideal technical skills, yet lack interpersonal skills needed for positions. Regardless of the position, here are some valuable skills HR managers typically look for in their employees:

  • Working with others

  • Communication

  • Leadership

  • Takes initiative

  • Fit with Corporate Culture

  • Passion

Corporate Culture

It’s also important to understand the significance of an organization’s corporate culture as it affects your perception of a position. So why is corporate culture important to job seeking?

Types of Corporate Culture

  1. Clan Culture: A clan culture focuses on the employees within the organization, one that is collaborative and is viewed as a family. Examples of organizations with a clan culture are Zappos and Tom’s of Maine.

2. Adhocracy Culture: One that encourages risk taking and innovation. Google and Facebook are examples of organizations that have a adhocracy culture.

3. Market Culture: Results-oriented corporate culture; competitive, high profits = success. An example of market culture is General Electronics.

4. Hierarchy Culture: Formal, structured culture, with policies and rules enforced heavily. Examples a hierarchy culture include McDonalds and Ford.

Based on these 4 types of corporate cultures, you can gain a sense of the kind of environment you would succeed in. It is crucial to understand the type of culture you would enjoy working in, as it contributes to your productivity and quality of work.


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