The 5 Most Requested Attributes When Recruiting a Senior HR Professional

Nothing in this list is outrageous but some may surprise you as being constantly raised as requirements when recruiting a Senior HR Professional.

If you are looking for a senior role now or you want to develop attributes that will set you up for a senior role, then it’s useful for you to know what employers are asking for on a consistent basis.

1. Strong commercial acumen.

This is a phrase that is almost universally applied to every brief we take for a mid to senior level HR professional. Commercial acumen is also something that most HR professionals profess to have yet, in our experience, they sometimes find it difficult to articulate. Candidates must be able to evidence their commercial capability both in their CV and at interview. This means backing up your claims with facts, and, ideally, with specific measurable achievements that affected the fortunes of the business in some way.

2. Pragmatism with a willingness to ‘roll their sleeves up’.

Whilst strategic capability and commercial acumen are regularly asked for it is rarely acceptable for candidates to operate solely at this level. You’ve got to be willing to deal with a certain measure of day to day operational work.

In our experience, ‘rolling your sleeves up’ can mean very different things from organisation to organisation; the issues one HR Leader faces in a mid-sized professional services firm can be very different to those faced by an HR Manager in a heavy-industry environment. That said, the basic request for candidates to be pragmatic is standard. You need to show a maturity of understanding in dealing with this at interview.

3. Strong influencing skills.

Companies want to employ HR professionals who will have credibility with their stakeholders. This is really important as most HR people have no direct authority over the people they are dealing with. The ability to influence is what can often be the differentiating factor in success. HR credibility is gained through the ability to influence in a challenging, yet positive way. Again, the best way to demonstrate this on a CV is through citing specifically how you influenced a relevant business outcome in a previous role. Of course, psychometric testing is often used as part of the assessment, but not until the latter part of a recruitment process (by which time a client will often have a view on your influencing skills anyway).

4. Tertiary qualifications.

At a senior level the importance of qualifications should not be underestimated. Additional qualifications such as a Masters will undoubtedly get the interest of the Hiring Manager. Why? Well it demonstrates interest, a commitment to personal development and contemporary knowledge.

5. Strong culture fit.

Sounds obvious and you would be forgiven for asking why this is cited so often as surely it’s a given. I think it is because so many times companies have had their fingers burnt by adhering so rigidly to their interview script that they forget about this all-important aspect. No point in having the most skilled and experienced employee if they hate the environment they’re working in. Sadly, fit is often pushed to one side as a candidate shines at interview but once in situ, that light fades and the new employee struggles.