Making myself marketable

by 01 Apr 2008

Q. I am a senior HR consultant who is considering leaving my current employer. What do you see as the key HR trends and skills currently in demand, and how can I leverage these to make myself more marketable?

A. Without wanting to be too impersonal it is important to think of yourself as a marketable commodity. The most marketable candidates (those with the most contemporary and in demand skills) are indeed spoilt for choice when it comes to selecting their next employment opportunity.

Increasingly, organisations are looking to HR for creative and innovative ways to maximise their most valuable asset and consequently organisations are seeking practitioners who can proactively provide support at both a strategic and tactical level in a range of areas.

Key themes that are prevalent to organisations which HR practitioners need to keep abreast of revolve around the attraction and retention of key talent, how to create robust talent and succession plans, increasing the capability of line managers and assisting organisations with regard to organisational redesign initiatives incorporating change management.

The changing corporate landscape, ageing workforce and other factors have driven the need for skills in these areas. For example, a growing number of organisations are undergoing sizable M&As/outsourcing initiatives, which in turn create the need for experienced HR practitioners to coach and support managers and employees through the various related impacts such as redundancy and/or redeployment. Highly-prized skills in change management are sought by organisations who require practitioners that have ‘been there, done that’ when it comes to handling sensitive and confidential situations.

With the so-called ‘war for talent’increasingly becoming an issue, organisations are looking to HR to provide innovative solutions in identifying and retaining talent. This can come in the form of utilising e-tools, networking with your industry peers and building mutually beneficial relationships with your recruitment partners as they will be best placed to advise you on what is happening in the market place.

In addition, as remuneration benchmarking is a significant issue for many employers in today’s competitive market, organisations look to HR to provide a realistic trend analysis of the offerings from local and global competitors.

Another key area in demand is the knowledge and practical application of HR metrics. More and more these days organisations are seeking people initiatives that can be measured and linked to business outcomes.

Stakeholders don’t just want to know what has been implemented, but how it was measured and what impact it has had. For example many people talk of conducting an employee opinion survey; while this is all well and good, without actually putting some metrics in place to measure the impact, the rollout itself is useless.

So how do you ensure you’re competitive? By keeping up to date about industry best practice and finding out who is doing impressive things –perhaps through networking or joining a specific industry body such as the Australian Human Resources Institute. Regular reading of journals and attending topical seminars will help in ensuring you stay abreast of current trends and help build your marketability as a candidate.

Obviously theoretical knowledge is of little use if not paired with practical application, so take the opportunity to stretch yourself and work on projects that you wouldn’t ordinarily partake in, get to know your organisation, perhaps work on a business project and seek a mentor who can assist you in building your commercial acumen.

At the end of the day most organisations want HR to come to the table as a true business partner and by ensuring you are at the top of your game and actively adding worth, your input will always be valued.

By Sarah Brown, senior consultant, TheNextStep