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May 26th

How to deal with Human Resources


3346448792_7af9a32dc9_mThere’s been a lot of negative talk about HR people recently, most often along the lines that HR are rude and unhelpful, or that they simply don’t communicate or give feedback.

Now Human Resources strikes back! Andria Saxelby has over 20 years’ experience in the profession. If you understand how HR works, you can get yourself to the top of the candidate pile.

1. Remember that HR departments are overworked
HR people are no different to the average Company Director in that they have too much to do and very little time to do it.The first thing to remember is that often recruitment is only one part of an HR job. Secondly, it’s not uncommon to receive between 250 to 500 applications for a vacancy. HR people usually have a criteria and job specs which they use to shortlist the candidates.

Tip: It’s not worth fostering a relationship with HR people as they don’t have the time. Tomorrow is always another day with different needs.

To make sure your application gets to the top of the pile, follow the norm. Find out the name of the person who’s dealing with the vacancy or level of position you are after, ensure your cover letter is good and outlines how your skills fulfil the job requirements and say why youre interested in working for them. Follow up your details first in writing and always be courteous.

2. HR has to follow the law
Candidates’ details are rarely kept on file for more than a year as the privacy laws limit the length of time that you can keep them. After this date, you should renew permission with the owner, which also takes time and money.

There’s also equal opportunities legislation to follow, meaning that any vacancies should be advertised both internally and externally, even if you have the perfect candidate on file.

Tip: Don’t expect HR to keep your details. HR are unlikely to use their bank of candidates when there’s a new vacancy, as many would be out of date or expected to have found jobs. Send your updated CV along with a cover letter for the job or role you’re interested in.

3. The theory vs practice dilemma
In an ideal world, HR people would respond to every application with a “yes” or a “no” and should be able to supply suitable reasons why someone was not shortlisted when asked. These are elements of what HR people call ‘good practice’ but in the current climate and with the increasing number of responses to vacancies, this is not always possible.

Tips: Don’t expect detailed feedback on every application. But if you do feel you have been genuinely dealt with in an unprofessional or prejudicial manner, then find out what their formal complaint procedures are. The can usually be found in their company handbook or website, or should be available on request. You can also write to the CIPD or the company director or secretary.

Photo credit: ArtemFinland

Comments: 3

  • How did I do? Getting feedback on your job search | Job Market Success August 11th, 2009

    [...] For more tips on dealing with HR, see How to deal with Human Resources. [...]

  • zeph January 31st, 2013

    This is not the least bit helpful. It is not my job, as an applicant, to worry about the particular situation of the HR department. The fact is that when they refuse to return phone calls (after asking me to call, mind you), do not answer phones, and do not respond to emails, they are completely disrespecting MY time. This has happened to me multiple times, and I would not think much of it were it not for the fact that I am responding to THEIR inquiry and they STILL do not reply. It is complete and utter bullshit.

  • Clare January 31st, 2013

    Thanks for stopping by and commenting!

    The post was written from an HR perspective – not so much to garner sympathy but to help jobseekers understand why things happen the way they do.

    If someone has asked you to contact them and then doesn’t respond, you can probably infer a couple of things (neither of them necessarily sinister):
    – that the timing is not working for you (maybe that person needs confirmation from someone else such as a director or manager before replying)
    – that the job is no longer open (a possibility)

    Yes, I agree that emails should be answered, and phone calls answered. But I also expect that this will not always happen. At the end of the day, if you are being treated unprofessionally, rudely, or being asked to supply lots of information that then goes unanswered, you can also infer less than positive things about the company as a whole.

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