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Grow as an HR professional and specialise your skills

Posted on from Advantage Resourcing

The demand for specialist HR professionals is increasing, however there appears to be a skills shortage in the market. Michael Oliver provides advice to HR professionals looking to focus their skills and specialise.

A shift to specialist HR?

As an experienced HR professional, you will be well aware that there has recently been a major shift from the generalist to the specialist. For example, the role of the talent manager or the internal recruiter; these were roles that were decidedly scarce, yet are increasingly common now. The problem is, however, that there are just not enough specialists available.

We are getting CVs in their hundreds each month from a range of HR professionals, however the majority of them are from generalists - individuals with a good stable career and knowledgeable about most things, but lacking in specific key skills. Convincing a potential employer that these individuals can fit a focussed brief in areas such as talent sourcing, pay and benefits or training and development can be a considerable challenge.

How can I specialise my skills?

So if you do have extensive, yet wide ranging experience what should you do? The most important thing is to be realistic about what you can really do and open minded about the roles you apply for. Focus on your key skill sets and experience, and then drill right down to pull out the relevant piece of information and expertise from your career that matches the employer’s requirements. Ensure that your CV is not too inclusive otherwise it's highly likely that it will fall under the employer's radar.

You may also need to be flexible in your approach, and willing to consider a stepping stone position to give you another way in to your desired role. If you want to become a specialist in the area of say employee benefits, you may have to take on a mixed role that encompasses this area to get the necessary experience, before you can move into that discipline full time.

Bre prepared for a lengthy recruitment process

Potential employers are far choosier and specific over the individuals they want to recruit. They want a candidate who is absolutely ideal for the job and has the right skills and experience to hit the ground running. These strict requirements are delaying and elongating the process.

Employers – have realistic expectations

Additionally if you are an HR director thinking of restructuring your department and growing your team, then you may also need to be realistic about your hiring objectives. Try to be less rigid about the person you are trying to attract – quite often we see a gap between what potential employee expectations are and the type of individuals available in the market. If you aren’t so flexible with your specifications you may be waiting a long time to hire and you could possibly enter a bidding war and end up paying more.

Focus on the message that you are giving prospective candidates through the recruiting process. This is their only opportunity to see how your company operates. If the processes take too long, prospective employees may decide that they don’t want to work for an organisation that can’t do things quickly. It's essential that you get this initial process water tight.

Return to war for talent?

In this current market, we are feeling a return to a war for talent where job seekers will have real bargaining power once again. During the recession candidates weren’t as much in demand as they are now.

The balance of power is moving from an employer led market to a candidate led one; unless something dramatic happens in the global economy, this power shift will carry on. 

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