Hiring an HR manager – can you fill the bill?

If a company can be compared to the proverbial chain, ensuring that the weakest link is still strong falls on the shoulders of the human resources manager. Selecting the right person for this critical position involves identifying the right characteristics of the person who will hold that job. The tendency to limit a search to the usual suspects may seem safe, but who wants usual quality among a firm’s workforce? Consider a shift in paradigm when making this key choice of management personnel.

Looking Between the Lines

Strictly on paper, the HR manager is responsible for enforcing company policies, handling daily business procedures, hiring and firing workers, among other duties. However, the difference between a cookie-cutter brand of this position and that of a dynamic leader is likely to be found between the lines of a resume’s content.

Don’t ignore the obvious. Consider hiring a specially trained college graduate. Business administration graduates often possess the skills needed to oversee a business organization. Their college classes in management, finance, diversity, employment laws and other topics perfectly prepare these candidates for an HR position. While a college degree is a necessity for your company’s HR manager, real world experience can provide the margin of excellence.

While traditional college students possess essential training, non-traditional graduates have an added advantage. They possess self-discipline and project management skills needed by successful HR managers. Their ability to succeed rests solely in their hands, and they often balance school requirements with a full time job and family. They know how to multitask, work hard, coordinate several schedules at once and implement teamwork. These candidates offer a huge bonus to your HR department as they exhibit a balance of hard work, fiscal wisdom and leadership skills. While valuing self-discipline as a trait, some familiar choices may be overlooked in spite of the evidence.

Practical Leadership under High Stress Conditions

Veterans have learned the ability to think on their feet, stay loyal to the boss and direct people efficiently under stressful conditions that far outweigh those likely to be experienced in most companies. While many business owners without military service may not understand what veterans know or how they think, every vet was a civilian before they enlisted and they understand how to adapt to changing circumstance and different culture even if an owner doesn’t know much about soldiers, sailors, airmen or Marines.

Homemakers, business owners or perhaps one of your current employees may have experienced multitasking on their feet, balancing a budget and handling conflict resolution. While college degree holders have advanced professional training in the field, practical experience and core skills learned in the real world can be just as valuable as actual HR experience.

Listen to a Candidate’s Answers

When hiring an HR manager, you’re looking for character traits in addition to educational and real world experience. Be aware of a candidate’s motivation, self-direction, accountability and communication skills. Several questions assist you in finding the most qualified candidate as you choose someone for your team who understands people and possesses the character traits you look for in an HR manager.

  • What personal, academic and professional experiences do they have?
  • What projects or activities have they managed in the past?
  • What makes them more qualified than other candidates?
  • What would they do with a belligerent, recently terminated employee or an unqualified potential employee?
  • How has real life prepared them for the position in your company?
  • What suggestions do they have for building rapport with current and new employees?
  • How do they define company theft?
  • What motivates them to wake up every day?

These and other questions provide you with invaluable guidance as you choose an HR manager.

HR managers play a major role in your company, and you can’t afford to lightly regard the hiring process. During the hiring process, look for professional training coupled with practical, real world experience. You will be surprised at the caliber of applicants you receive when you cast a wider net beyond the usual waters.

From Start Up Ratings

By Thomas Stone

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Opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and not of The HR Gazette or its team members.
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