Skilled or adaptable— what does your resume say?

In this age of intense competition, the most important professional competency that a recruiter looks for in a candidate’s resume is adaptability

Jennifer Openshaw dons many hats. She is an entrepreneur, a financial consultant, and a mother of a beautiful daughter. As many would say, Jennifer is ‘living the American dream.’ Jennifer reveals that at a young age when she pledged to do what it takes to become a successful professional, she saw every employment option as opportunity to learn and build skills.

In an article that she posted recently, Jennifer articulates the diverse set of experiences that she acquired in her professional career, including that of working as a maid. Jennifer argues that, in this age of intense competition and the constantly changing business landscape, the most important skill that a recruiter looks for in a candidate’s resume is the ability to adapt.

As professionals, many of us are inclined to pursue a limited set of competencies through the course of our careers. At some point of time, we claim to be experts in our particular field and expect the job market to attach a monetary value against it. A recognized global career expert, David Conley, argues that it is actually an individual’s “non-cognitive” skills, including experience and diversity that marks the difference between professional success and failure. Specialization, though important, is not the definitive selection criteria for most recruiters.

An analysis of language standards available in any job portal for job descriptions across widely divergent industries, roles, and hierarchical levels reveal a few interesting commonalities. These commonalities mostly revolve around adaptability or “non-cognitive” skills.  The University of Bradford’s career development web site has published a set of language standards that are common in job descriptions that are advertised. Some of the commonalities include the following—

—      positive “can do” attitude

—      willingness to grasp opportunities

—      demonstrate a dynamic approach

—      the right attitude to change

Openshaw quotes from a speech from a hiring manager at Google, one of the most sought-after employers in the world, “Today, companies aren’t hiring for a specific position but rather people who are smart and flexible. The way you demonstrate that is by showing you can do multiple things well.”

Adaptability is a function of personality, cognitive behaviour, and non-cognitive skills. Experts feel that in order to assess a candidate’s adaptability, recruiters typically look for the following signs in a candidate’s resume—

—      Intellectual flexibility through widely divergent academic and leisure pursuits (for example, a programmer who paints)

—      Change receptiveness (ability to deliver positive business results in diverse roles)

—      Capability to innovate (instances of business-results achieved through non-standard channels)

Before you go ahead and headline your resume as “PMP-certified professional with 10 years of SEO experience,” take a step back and reflect. Perhaps your dream recruiter is looking for something else.


13 ways for an HR professional to get a promotion in 2013

As most agree, 2013 will be a year of transformation for HR professionals across all sectors. Accordingly, the year will present significant opportunities to explore new career horizons and secure an ever-evasive promotion.Yes, only if the HR professional doesn’t lose focus from the things that matter.

Irrespective of it being the end of the financial year or not, the New Year beckons professionals to collectively engage in the largest annual enterprise exercise― the performance appraisal. And a promotion is the most sought after near-term target for a professional for various reasons.

A 2011 global workforce study by the Corporate Leadership Council on workforce expectations reveals that employees in India and China have the lowest average time spent in a role before expecting a promotion. While the global average is more than 3-4 years, the average time by which a professional in India and China expects a promotion is anywhere between 2-3 years.

Experts reveal that an aggressive professional expectation is one of the key reasons why the talent market in these economies is so volatile. With the market conditions opening up, a year without a promotion might seem like a source of dissatisfaction for many. Here are 13 ways by which one can stay on track in the promotion race this year.

#1― Maintain focus on the bigger picture. Progression in the career is not solely about the 10 or 12 development areas enlisted in the performance appraisal. Progress, in its holistic sense, is about employing professional skills for organizational impact. Impacting strategic focus areas of the enterprise will provide professional visibility. Experts believe that this will be a year where companies will be looking to increase global presence and increase talent management outcomes. Promotions will largely be driven by the ability of teams and individual to deliver them.

#2― Review and recalibrate. While professional choices are driven many times by factors that are different from personal aspirations, it is never too late to reflect and recalibrate. With the service sector in India expected to demonstrate fervent activity, it will pay to hop on the service sector bus and pursue non-traditional roles in HR service organizations, such as marketing and operations.

#3― Focus on leadership. Organizations across industries will face leadership crisis in the coming times and will likely boost efforts on developing succession plans and replacing leadership loss. Contribution in this terrain will likely increase chances of attaining higher visibility.

#4― Develop analytical capabilities. The role of HR analytics will continue to increase with the increase in business and talent management complexities. Professionals who are able to effectively leverage analytical capabilities will be much sought after by the enterprise.

#5― Focus on hiring quality. A 2012 survey by LinkedIn highlights the shift in hiring focus from hiring to hiring quality at scale. Hiring quality at scale is a complicated challenge. Most recruiting service companies reveal that recruiting cycles have increased 2-3 times as companies get more careful with hiring.As social hiring comes into prominence, the effectiveness of an HR professional will be determined by how effectively s/he is able to recruit quality talent through technology, social media, and other analytics-based tools.

#6― Create objective measures. HR is traditionally seen as a qualitative function, and HR professional are looked upon as lacking the ability to quantify business impact. Accordingly, HR professionals who are able to objectify business impact measures will be a much sought-after breed.

#7― Have a proactive view of macro-economic developments.With the large demand-supply gap for talent HR, which is traditionally seen as a reactive function, will be able to create a definitive impact on organizational strategy through a proactive view on macro-economic developments and their consequent impact on human capital management. An HR professional who speaks the language of market and organizational economics has a greater opportunity for organizational visibility.

#8― Get familiar with technology.With technology changing the nature of business, shaping delivery models, and providing opportunities for competitive advantage, technology averseness will not help the professional cause.  A tech-savvy HR professional will be considered an organizational and team asset.

#9― Gather best practices from experts.Progressive practices, as often seen, depend on how effectively one can gather collective wisdom. In this age of seamless connectivity, the ability to network and gather best practices for professional improvement will be a key differentiator between a successful and average HR practitioner.

#10― Build strong communication skills.With the increasing criticality of human capital, effectiveness of the function will be driven by how effectively the HR professional is able to communicate with colleagues, peers, leaders, the external talent pool, vendors, and other organizational stakeholders.  Developing strong communication capabilities often times can be the deal clincher for a promotion decision.

#11― Have a strategic business focus.A large number of business leaders reflect that the biggest gap they face while dealing with HR is their lack of strategic focus. While business leadership expects HR to have a strategic focus, the HR professional is often seen spending a disproportionate amount of time in tactical activities, including recruiting.An HR professional who is able to bridge this gap has better chances of stealing the spotlight during the annual appraisal.

#12― Find ways to reuse, recycle, and reduce. Astrong focus on costhelps drive stakeholder confidence.  The HR professional who is able to demonstrate intent to reuse, recycle, and reduce costs will find it easier to gather confidence with the leadership.

#13― Become an HR entrepreneur. A successful entrepreneur is one who is able to take ownership of his role and links personal effectiveness with organizational performance. The HR professional who can impact organizational performance will likely have higher chances of success.