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What are hiring managers looking for in an HR candidate?

Written by: Hazel Mason
Published on: 15 Aug 2019

When searching for a job, it can be tempting to write a standard CV and cover letter and send off to every possible vacancy available. But, as many of you will know, this isn’t the best way to secure a new role. 

What are hiring managers looking for

When finding that next role, no matter how keen you are to get out of the door, it’s important to consider whether the role is absolutely right for you and then convince the hiring manager of that fact. So, how can you recognise what the hiring manager is looking for?

Start with the job description

The best place to find what the hiring manager is looking for is within the job description. Here is where they will list the general responsibilities and personal attributes of the individual they want to hire.

When reading through the job description, be sure to spot keywords that you can draw into your cover letter and CV. For example, an HR advisor role may list “provide proactive support to the management team” as a key responsibility. Here, the keyword phrase you should pick out and include in your application is “provide proactive support”.

It often helps to print out the job description and highlight the main areas. Once you have these main areas, attach an example of where you’ve demonstrated this. It can help bolster your application if you draw upon your experience to prove how great you are for the job.

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Read between the lines

Alongside the words on the page, it’s important to consider why they might be recruiting for this role. It may simply be that a person has left the role and they need someone to continue that person’s work. In which case, you need to demonstrate your skills and knowledge in your application. 

But it could also be a sign of organisational changes or a new exciting project. Recruiters often hint at this in the job description, so pick up on the language they're using and highlight why you’d be the best person for the job.

Research the organisation

Finally, make sure you research the organisation. Look at how they are talking about themselves, their culture and what working there will be like. Ask yourself: is this the kind of company I want to work for and why? 

Keywords don’t just appear within the job description, they are all over their website, social media and any publications. Mirror what you’ve done with the job description here, whether it be that their people are “fun, young and friendly” or “driven and ambitious” include these descriptors about yourself. 

Hiring managers love to feel like you are solely wanting to work for them, so list your reasons why in your application. What interested you in the role and why would you be a great cultural fit for their organisation? Make it clear that you understand what the company does and why you would love to work there.

To search for current HR and L&D vacancies, visit the People Management Jobs website.

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