HR professionals undersold

by 03 Apr 2007

DESPITE BEING responsible for hiring the best talent into companies, many HR professionals struggle when it comes to selling themselves for new positions and usually undersell themselves, according to a career management expert.

“A common pitfall from my experience working with all levels of HR professionals for the last 10 years is the lack of sales skills,” says Leslie Alderman, an executive consultant with Chandler Macleod.

After recently reviewing a HR director’s resume, for example, she found it lacked greatly. “It needed more results, more outcomes, more challenges of the role, more initiatives and more on how to demonstrate results,” she says.

“They totally undersold their abilities and successes. The feedback was appreciated but not expected.”

In order to be competitive for top jobs in HR, Alderman said it was important for senior HR professionals to not be backward in coming forward about themselves and their skills. “We all know the drill, it’s not the best person who gets the job, it’s the best person who knows how to sell themselves that gets the job.”

Another common challenge for HR professionals is spending 70 to 80 per cent of their time on things they’re good at but don’t enjoy, and only 20 to 30 per cent of their time on things they’re both good at and enjoy.

“An example of this common issue is someone who loves to work on the strategic aspects of HR and are stuck in an operation role 80 per cent of the time. They get to do the things they love to do only 20 per cent of the time, so roughly this equates to one day a week,” she says.

“It’s this 20 per cent that gets them jumping out of bed in the morning because they are going to work on the strategy stuff today.”

HR professionals require a unique talent and skill set in order to succeed in modern HR departments, Alderman adds.

These include influencing skills and the ability to sell oneself and articulate the value of sitting at senior levels with the executive team or on the board, along with more strategic and tactical skills, which can be built through professional development courses or one-on-one executive coaching.

Flexibility is also an important attribute in dealing with retention issues of top talent. “Not all conditions and incentives suit – be open to ideas,”Alderman says.


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