Applying for your first HRD role?

So 2016 may be the year for your first HRD level role.  It’s probably the greatest leap you’ll make since you graduated from a three wheeler to a two wheeler.  Looks similar but the difference is that the complexity and scope of the role totally changes the balance.  Where once you had only to think of your own function (or division) now you also have to look across the whole business landscape and consider risk, direction and governance as well as the day to day activities of running a business that’s delivering a service or product.


What are those Executive colleagues and CEOs looking for? How do you maximise your chances of getting onto the shortlist?

It varies in the detail, of course it does, however in general here are my top 7 ‘must haves’ for your resume.  These are the basics, if you’re heading for a listed company we’ll look at those extra requirements later in the year;

Judgement, trust and integrity:

Show you can be trusted to take decisions not just for your function but alongside your executive colleagues for the good of the business. Demonstrate you have the maturity to carry collectively agreed decisions into the business and implement them, whatever your own thoughts. Give a good sense that you have sound judgement, take measured views yet are not afraid to put forward your well thought-out opinions. Demonstrate you have managerial maturity, whatever your actual age.

Strategic Thinking:

You have to be able to think strategically at an executive level and then be able to translate that into action. You may think you can do this already but a good exercise is to write down 5 recent examples of your strategic capabilities.  It isn’t as easy as you think so if you can’t get past 2 you might need to think more about how to work this into your personal development plan.

The Broader Business Perspective:

Candidates who can’t demonstrate an ability to take the broader perspective, who don’t understand and aren’t curious about their business as a whole, won’t get to the shortlist. So make sure you can demonstrate knowledge about your broader business context and the shortlist prize will most probably go to those of you who can show how you’ve added value above and beyond your own function or division by taking initiative and going beyond what was asked of you.

Financial Understanding:

You don’t need to be a financial wizard but you do need to know the financial implications of the work you are doing or proposing. If you can’t read a spreadsheet, a P&L or a business plan, put it on your to-do list to learn.  If you can’t put a good business case on paper as a proposal then put in on your personal development plan as a must have. Find out more about Finance and HR 

Remuneration & Benefits:

Whilst your technical ability at this level is a given, a sound understanding of remuneration is essential if you’re thinking of a HRD position. It’s more than likely you will play some part in a Remuneration Sub-Committee or similar.  Your specialist person may do the presenting but it’s likely that you will be the one the CEO turns to for advice, including for the remuneration packages for the Executive team.  So if it hasn’t been an interesting subject for you up until now, start paying it more attention.

Strong Track Record of Achievement:

The world is full of people who talk the talk. Your new CEO wants to see that you can deliver results and that you can do that through other people without causing chaos.  Make sure you have plenty of examples of what your function has achieved, how it has benefited the business and how you have managed implementation through any operational or people obstacles.

Relevant Qualifications:

Masters, MBAs, Financial Diplomas, Project Management, HR and Leadership qualifications are all relevant and highly regarded. If you haven’t done any FE in the past ten years you might want to think of a top up.

TIP: If you haven’t done any FE in the past ten years you might want to think of a top up.