Commercially-skilled HR professionals are in demand, but many fail to successfully demonstrate their commercial edge to prospective employers. This isn’t to say they don’t possess commercial credibility; they simply don’t appreciate its importance and know how to sell it.
In recent years, there has been a shift in the way that organisations view their HR function, and HR professionals must ensure their outlook is aligned with this change in focus. Whether you’re looking for a new HR job or are looking to progress within your organisation, proving your commercial nous is evermore vital for career success.
What is meant by ‘commercial’?
To really make an impact in the HR industry, it’s not enough to simply be a knowledgeable HR practitioner. To succeed in one of the leading commercial organisations, you must be able to add tangible value to the bottom line.
Being commercially-minded means you’re able to effectively evaluate and measure the output of your activity. You should always be able to explain the business rationale behind your actions, the business benefits and the real business value of your activities.
An understanding and commitment to HR best practice is obviously important, but this alone is not enough. Increasingly, HR professionals need to show a real focus on deliverables and prove their ‘commerciality’ to future employers.
Metrics are absolutely key in this. You must always be able to back up your experience with actual figures – did you meet/exceed targets? How did your actions affect revenue? By how much did a new process reduce spend?
The changing role of HR
The role of an HR professional has evolved over time in line with the growing demands of business. In past years, HR was seen to play a supportive and administrative role. However, as companies experience rapid growth through globalisation, advancements in technology and other factors such as large-scale acquisitions, the role of HR has had to step up and meet these escalating requirements. In today’s business landscape, HR professionals are highly-valued decision-makers who are often at the heart of a company’s overall strategic planning.
Of course, the expectations and demands on an HR team will vary between different organisations, but the role of HR is now identified as being a core contributor to the performance of a business.
The HR recruitment market is competitive, with large volumes of experienced candidates often vying for the same role. Employers want the top candidates and we hear the same demand from them over and over again – they’re seeking genuinely commercial HR professionals.
Demonstrating your commercial edge
Firstly, address your current CV and make sure it’s fully selling your commercial nous. Make sure your past achievements and activities are accompanied with tangible results and backed up with actual numbers. For example, don’t just say you launched a new process, outline the impact that this process had on the business by offering up real percentages.
Align your experience with the overall performance and goals of the organisation. How did your HR activities fit into the bigger picture? What involvement did you have at the strategic planning level?
Think carefully about your work history to date and pinpoint specific examples of your commerciality. Be confident in talking about certain scenarios in which you, or you and your team, made a genuine impact on business output. A strong CV is vital, but if you can’t articulate your commercial edge in an interview – it’s quite possible you’ll fall behind the competition.
Equally, in your current role, start thinking about the results you deliver and the impact of your actions. If you don’t already, start evaluating your role in terms of the actual outcomes you achieve.
For more information on displaying your commercial skill set or hiring a commercial HR professional, please get in touch with your local Michael Page Human Resources team.