In the world of business, companies operate in a multitude of domains. From healthcare to automobiles and from finance to food, they put out a variety of products and services with varying levels of technology. Rare, though, is the company that can do it without people, who are indeed its most valuable resource. And managing their needs is a task that falls to those working in HR.

For an HR professional, the aim is two-fold:

  • Help an employee reach his or her potential
  • Help a business reach its goal

An HR career is an excellent choice for a person who is driven to achieve the above goals and is organized in his or her approach to work. Over the years, the role has grown beyond the administrative duties of putting up job postings, conducting interviews, and disbursing salaries. The goals now include hiring the right people for the company who fit with current roles, possible future roles, and the culture and sensibilities of the company. Along with this, the hiring plan and the skills brought on board must contribute to taking the company toward its strategic goals.

HR leaders look for several qualities in candidates for HR jobs, both on the professional and personal fronts. These are enumerated below:

Professional skills

Good internship

An HR professional typically has some internship experience before landing a full-time job. The tasks could be routine and sometimes low value in nature, such as filing papers, getting interview forms filled, and even bringing coffee; however, they are a valuable first and close look at the inner workings of the department. The interviewer will want to understand how much the candidate knows of the working of the role and the contribution of the internship to the same, so it is important to land a good internship.

Work experience

When making moves between employers in the course of an HR career, it helps to have the right work experience. This is an important way to demonstrate suitability for a particular role and credibility when it comes to suggestions on how the role and responsibilities could be duly discharged. The candidate needs to show how he or she made a difference in the past role – in terms of taking responsibilities, making improvements, and more – and what the key learnings were.

Usage of HR skills in a non-HR job

Not all applicants for an HR job come from a previous HR role. There are a number of people who feel they are suitable for HR and wish to make a switch from their current domain or employer, and an HR leader would be impressed if the candidate can show how he or she has taken care of relevant roles and responsibilities. Budgeting, coaching, training, and other tasks are done not just in HR but in other roles too, and these are important to know for someone who wants to work here, as they show credibility even without having core HR experience.

Academic qualifications

Most job postings for HR professionals ask for a degree in HR or at least in a related field. A degree is typically a program lasting at least three years, and covers most basics as well as advanced options depending on the specializations chosen. It is a common initial parameter on which a candidate is evaluated in an entry-level role as well as in later roles.

Where degree programs fall short is in how they are often not up to pace with the current needs of the industry. Academic content tends to lag behind corporate requirements, and many candidates bridge this gap by picking up some of the best HR and talent management certifications. A certification shows a prospective employer that the candidate has the latest skills and knowhow, and is serious about continued learning and growing in his or her career.

Networking with other HR professionals

An HR professional must have the right skills, experience, and qualifications, but must also have networked with other professionals in the field. This helps the candidate to learn more about the demands and requirements of the profession, and reduce some of the unknowns and surprises. The right network can help the candidate in learning more about the target employer and opening, and can also help the employer in verifying the background of the candidate and to learn what others feel about the person in question.

Personal skills

Some useful personal aspects of a candidate looking for an HR career include:

  • Being well-organized: HR requires handling multiple tasks at a time, and the candidate must be able to suitably manage his or her time and efficiently complete tasks while taking care of priorities therein.
  • Ethical: The candidate needs to handle sensitive information with care, releasing it only to those with the requisite permissions and authority. This helps in earning employee trust.
  • Strong communication: Be it verbal or written, good communication skills are invaluable in interacting with the employer or employees. These help to relay information with clarity and effectiveness, and solve conflicts at the workplace.