One of the most important principles to remember when looking for a new job is that almost everyone you encounter during your job hunt can be a resource for getting you the right job. This includes friends, family and individuals employed in your area of interest or related industries. Yet one valuable resource is often overlooked, the human resource manager.
HR managers in many cases are excellent sources of information about the company at which you want to get a job, and can help you learn where your strengths and skills may best be applied within the company, especially if it is a complex organization with many divisions and departments.
In many cases it is the HR manager who knows what positions are available within the company and knows exactly what type of person and skills are required to succeed at that position. HR managers can tell you what qualifications and experience a particular position demands, as well as what the responsibilities of the position are. They can also tell you about the company’s culture, style and the type of people that work there.
It is the HR manager’s job in many cases to be the clearing house for job openings within a company. Often, they might be aware of positions available at the company’s other offices or can inform you of other organizations that are hiring.
In many companies, HR managers are often the first step in the interviewing process. This is your time to shine. The hiring manager has entrusted the HR manager with the responsibility of delivering the best candidates for a position. You must be one of the limited number of individuals selected for a second interview.
Keep in mind that the HR manager is a professional interviewer. They are often better interviewers than the person who is doing the actual hiring. Your answers need to be more concise and to the point. Let the HR manager take control of the interview and keep your conversation very professional and less casual than you might think. Although the HR manager may not ask as many technical questions about the specific job, it is her/his responsibility to evaluate your expertise and how you fit in with the company.
The advice they can give you at that first interview can point you in the right direction, help you focus on the right areas during your search, and give you ideas on how your experience and personal strengths can get you the job you are seeking. Some other helpful advice from HR managers includes:
Market yourself as a product. Always think of the interviewing process in business terms. Consider yourself a product and put yourself in the position of the interviewer. Why would a company buy me? The best way to do this is to highlight and communicate your accomplishments. If you do not express what you have already done, it will be difficult for anyone to visualize exactly what you have to offer. HR managers meet with many job candidates and they get discouraged with candidates who cannot relate relevant past contributions to what they can do for their organization.
Don’t do too much homework on the company before the first interview. This may be contrary to advice received in the past, but your responsibility in the first interview is to listen carefully and answer the questions as best you can. If you make it to the second or third interview, then obtain additional information on the company. Do not waste your time memorizing the annual report. Knowing basic information about the organization will make you more impressive for later interviewers.
Do not take the interview lightly. Many job seekers make the mistake of approaching a meeting with an HR manager as just a formality in the interview process. This is the best way to be eliminated from consideration. Although someone else usually makes the ultimate hiring decision, it is the HR manager’s job to eliminate those who do not fit the job profile.
Stay open to anything in the beginning stage of the interview. You can customize your interview strategy to the job for which you are interviewing. Let the interviewer tell you about the requirements of the job before you “play your hand.” Listen carefully and determine what skills and expertise the interviewer is really seeking and cite examples in your track record that match the company’s need.
For instance, if in sales/marketing, there are many positions and industries for which you may be particularly qualified. Even though you may be interviewing for a position that does not have the same areas of responsibilities you performed in your previous job, you can still highlight past accomplishments that target the HR manager’s requirements.
HR managers can be helpful in directing your job search. Take the interview with them very seriously. Beyond the fact that they may be the first individual you meet in the interviewing process, they can provide crucial information on the company and evaluate your skills and experience to direct you to the right job within the company.