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It’s time to raise the bar in your job search

Posted on from Oakleaf Partnership

If you’re active in the job market or just keeping a watching brief on your career, how can you aim higher? Richard Colgan, managing partner at Oakleaf, explains.

1. Crisis point for HR recruitment?

According to our research, just 11% of all hiring managers in HR are happy with all their hires into the function 12 months after recruitment.

As an HR jobseeker, what can you do to improve your chances of finding the right position and, more importantly, make a success of it?

2. Get proactive

Establish or nurture relationships with one or two trusted HR recruiters, built on trust and mutual benefit.

Keep up to speed with developments in the HR recruitment space and market information. Knowing your own worth in the market shows basic business acumen and it’s just common sense. Make sure you’re up to date with the broader business as well as HR trade press.

In this economic climate, whatever your own level of seniority; you must have a career plan and be proactive about making it happen. The days of 'I’ve always been head-hunted for my next job' are long gone.

3. Raise your profile

Attend quality networking events and build a professional social network. Keep this as holistic as possible – it will help your professional development and keep you on people’s radar.

Consider getting some media coverage in the trade press; write or comment on an article or get interviewed. This will help build your professional profile. Think about how you can use LinkedIn and Twitter to your benefit.

4. Get organised

Review and update your CV. This will help you reflect on where your own career is going, what new skills you’ve acquired and what you could do next.

Consider getting an external HR mentor. We have a mentoring programme and candidates have found this hugely beneficial.

5. Preparing for action

Before you can be truly proactive, conduct a thorough skills and culture audit.

Be really honest with yourself about what you have done/can do and where you’ve had the most success and fun. Use trusted colleagues, a mentor or consultants to help and advise.

6. Shape up your CV

Ensure your CV is commercial – use metrics and percentages wherever possible. Your CV should demonstrate that you’re progressing in your career and accumulating new skills and experiences. Any international experience is increasingly important.

‘Who’ you have worked for is crucial – great practitioners and leaders are a powerful influence. Renowned business leaders, as well as HR, could be included as referees on your CV.

7. Direct sourcing vs agencies

Think about the balance of direct application vs agency use. Many blue-chip firms now have excellent job sites and direct sourcing teams - but don’t forget they only have one firm/role to offer you, only one outcome in mind and don’t care about you as a prospective client. 

Negotiating direct can often be more demanding, and some candidates also feel that confidentiality is more likely to be guaranteed via a third party approach. Good recruitment consultants will be playing the long game and not after a quick win.

8. Leverage your network

Which of your connections are in senior roles in firms where you may like to work? Or do they have friends/colleagues in those organisations? 

An application based on a personal recommendation couldn’t be stronger. Aren’t you pleased you’ve built your network?

9. Consider prospective applications

Give your consultant a target list of companies you’d like to work for, based on your research and network. Allow them to make direct approaches on your behalf. 

What would you say about yourself if you were sending your CV to a prospective employer? Draft a paragraph for the recruiter to use, bringing out your own unique selling points and skills. 

10. Questions to ask

  • What are the key challenges of the role & what does success look like?
  • What are the key skills needed to be successful?
  • The reason for the vacancy – how long has it been vacant?
  • How long has the recruiter worked with the firm – how well do they know them?
  • What’s the culture? Think about:
    The enablers/de-railers of change
    The reporting/MI culture
    The communication culture
    o The structure & hierarchy
    o The reward culture - how will I be rewarded for success?
    The hiring manager’s background & management style
  • The typical interview process & timeframe

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