Applying For An HR Role Within An Online Division? Ace Your Application In 5 Steps

Looking to kick-start your HR career by embracing the online division? Good choice!

The world of HR has stepped up a gear over the last few years, embracing a variety of technologies often deemed just for the digital marketers, such as Big Data. From the technologies we use, to the cultures we create — digital transformation has well and truly hit the world of HR.

If you’ve taken to these digital advances like a duck to water, an HR role overseeing on online department sounds like an excellent choice. But how can you make your application stand out above the noise? Let me show you how.

Related reading: 8 Ways To Use HR Analytics And Big Data In The Workplace

1# Evaluate the job description

Before you even begin working on your application, you need to make sure that you are a suitable candidate for the position. Research from Job Market Experts says that only the top 2% of applicants make it to the interview and that’s because they are genuinely qualified for the role and have presented this in their application.

98% of job seekers are eliminated at the initial resume screening and only the “Top 2%” of candidates make it to the interview

Software company, Bullhorn, found that irrelevant applications were the biggest turn off for recruiters, with a further 43% stating that they’d consider “blacklisting” candidates that continue to apply for jobs they’re unqualified for. Ouch. To prevent your professional reputation and further job applications from becoming tainted, it’s imperative to double check that you’re a good fit for the role. It can be tempting to try to ‘squeeze’ in with a speculative application, but be realistic about how well you’ll be able to prove your suitability without any relevant experience or training.

43% of recruiters blacklist overeager and aggressive job seekers

Start by scanning the job description and highlighting the essential requirements that you fulfil. As you’re applying for a role in the HR division, common keywords and abilities include employee retention, employment law, performance strategy, and recruitment. But don’t forget that you’re applying for a role within the online division too. As a result, the employer has likely listed online elements in the job description too, such as a basic understanding and interest in ecommerce or direct-to-consumer technology. You will also need to show an aptitude for digital technology, and an overall appreciation for the culture and ethos of the online world.

Sometimes a person who has the competency — but less years in using it — can be better fit personality-wise to an existing team with someone with a longer-tenured competency

It’s unlikely that you’ll be a complete match to the role. As you’re an HR professional, you know that a job description is often a general overview of what the perfect hire could look like, rather than a strict set of requirements. Therefore, as long as you fulfil the essential details, and perhaps align with a few of the desirable qualities too, prospective employers will recognise that your competency is on par. It’s important that your application communicates passion and dedication, and doesn’t just end up sounding like an empty ‘check box’ exercise.

A new study shows huge increase in lies on job applications

Just remember to be realistic when weighing up your abilities — don’t be tempted to lie. A whopping 85% of applicants lie on their CV, which could leave you with a fate worse than blacklisting as news travels fast in the recruitment industry. So, for the sake of your employability, avoid embellishing your CV and apply for the roles that are compatible with your skill set.

2# Research the company, its missions, and values

While it’s important to review whether you’d be a decent fit for the role, you have to make sure the job and company is a fit for you in return.

We spend the majority of our waking hours at work, and it’s ever so easy for our professional lives to spill over into our personal lives. Even if you crave the 80-hour week and workaholic lifestyle, best double check the role involves doing something you love, rather than for a company that goes against your core values. Being in an HR roles means being at the very heart of an organisation as someone who is duty-bound to adhere to company values. A mismatch between HR and company leadership is a highly undesirable scenario.

Research suggests that employees who align with an organisation’s goals and values and are generally a great cultural fit, are more likely to flourish in their role. Take some time to get to know the company before you apply. Otherwise, you may end up landing a role and ditching the gig a few weeks later — what a waste of time.

Research the company to get a feel for what it stands for, how it operates, its market position, and its reasons for expanding its online HR division if you can. Review its website, scanning through its “about us” pages for a mission statement. Also, check out products and services (particularly on the tech and online side of things), the “work for us” pages, and any other literature that will help you build up an overview of the employer, such as an annual report or whitepaper.

Not only will this research help you decide whether this company is a decent fit for your personality and career goals, but it will also help you craft a killer application should you decide you’re a match.

Don’t forget to check out the company social profiles for an up-to-date and insider view into how the organisation sees itself and its people.

3# Get on board the digital train

Since the world is continually developing new technologies, you seriously need to buff up your industry knowledge of how technological advances could affect the way businesses manage HR functions.

A digital workplace is not merely the sum of its technological parts

For example, over the last few years, ecommerce technologies have slowly influenced HR practices, to the point where businesses are choosing to adopt e-business methodologies within their HR divisions over traditional procedures.

Let’s zoom in on HR and payroll systems for a moment. Once a very manual process involving posting employees payslips and maintaining an intense filing system of employee records, holidays, etc. has now turned digital, with most employers using online hubs and management systems, such as CakeHR.

Consumers are increasingly relying on messaging apps for all forms of communication, whether personal, business, or commerce

This need for digital savviness increases twofold for HR professionals within an online division, as it’s their job to oversee HR functions for the fast-paced and dynamic ecommerce teams, for example. So, while establishing a successful digital workplace isn’t difficult, it does require HR departments to be more reactive to emerging trends and software.

If you’re just starting out in the online division, get to know the tech that may influence the way you work…and the way your staff work. Review workplace apps that may prove useful and familiarise yourself with emerging branches of martech, such as conversational commercedata science, and AI that are already having an impact on HR practices. This will not only keep you up to speed with the day-to-day of the teams within your remit, but it will also help you align the business strategy with HR objectives and ultimately support the company. 

Martech skills. Credit:
Martech skills.

This is the knowledge base that will convince prospective employers that you know your stuff and will be a valuable asset to the business’s HR strategy in support of the online division.

4# Target and tailor your CV

As you’re shooting for a role in the online division, you may be of the opinion that the CV is dead — and you’re not alone. And while it can be enough to send an employer or recruiter a quick email expressing your interest in a role with a link to your LinkedIn profile, it’s not recommended as your LinkedIn only provides a general overview of your abilities.

Is the CV dead (again)?

Since you’re armed with all this valuable research about the role, the company, technological advances in the industry, put it to good use in your CV and show employers exactly why you should be their next hire.

When writing an HR CV, start with your name, professional title, and contact details — you can place your LinkedIn URL here if you wish.

Up next is your personal profile which needs to tell the prospective employer three key things: who you are, what you can bring to the organisation, and your career goals. It’s so important to target your profile to the role as this is the first section they will read. Research suggests recruiters spend as little as six seconds reviewing your CV before deciding if they’re intrigued. So, if your profile doesn’t make the cut, your CV’s getting the chop.

Hiring managers spend just six seconds on your resume before they decide on you

Zoom in on the key requirements you identified in the job description, such as an interest in ecommerce or experience executing annual HR processes, and inject them into your profile to make it clear from the beginning that you’re suitable.

Then comes your work history. List each position in reverse chronological order with your dates of employment, job title, and company. Bullet point your key responsibilities and achievements. Tailoring your bullet points to the job description is paramount as you need to highlight the skills that the prospective employer values. Again, use your research to anchor each point to the requirements listed in the job description and utilise numbers wherever you can to quantify your abilities. This will place you ahead of the competition.

You should also think about how you can highlight your digital experiences and expertise. Making certain themes and roles ‘pop’ on your CV can help give you the edge, so don’t be afraid to think outside the box a little.

The final section of your CV covers your education and qualifications. In addition to your usual run-of-the-mill qualifications, such as A-levels or degree, focus on industry-specific qualifications that will add real weight to your application, such as an accredited qualification from or affiliation with the Chartered Institute of Personal Development.

5# Stay savvy and proactive

Once your CV’s in great shape, you’re probably in a decent position to submit your application. But just because you’ve sent your CV, it doesn’t mean that the application process is over.

As you work in HR, you know how chaotic a recruitment process can be, especially if a role has a rather high number of applicants. Candidates can become pushy and drop an email every day requesting an update; others can fall off the face of the planet, leaving the decision makers wondering if the applicant was ever serious about the role at all.

Heed your own advice and follow up in a timely manner. Glassdoor reckons about one week with no contact is a suitable time to send out your first short chaser. If two weeks pass, feel free to send a slightly longer chaser enquiring the status of your application, reaffirming your suitability and interest in the role. You may also want to pick up the phone and see if you can get hold of someone that way. There is a lot to be said for a quick phone conversation when it comes to recruitment.

Stay positive, which will not only serve your job search well, but will also help you move more confidently throughout the process

Keep track of your applications in the same way you would keep track of applicants for a role you’re hiring for so that when the recruiter responds, you know exactly what application they’re speaking of.

It’s a good idea to develop some sort of tracking system (almost like a CRM) so that you can weigh up the experience you’ve had dealing with each company. What you might find is that your candidate experience will highlight the roles and opportunities you are most passionate about.

Don’t feel that just because you’ve applied for a role, you can sit back. If you’re really keen on launching your HR career in the online division, get out there and track down another opportunity, showing employers that you’re the talent they need on board.

HR is an exciting industry that’s constantly in a state of change. By embracing the digital side of people planning, you will be setting yourself up for an interesting career path. From AI automation to VR and AR — technology is set to change the world of work for good. Be at the forefront of these changes and embrace the challenge of managing an online division. Good luck with your applications! –Victoria Greene, Ecommerce Consultant and Freelance Writer

Vicky is a freelance writer and ecommerce marketing consultant. She runs a blog called Victoriaecommerce. In her spare time, Vicky shares her knowledge by writing for a variety of digital publications, sharing her insights to help budding entrepreneurs and professionals reach their goals.

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We at CakeHR, an HR software company, stay on top of the latest HR trends as it is important for us to know what are the challenges and opportunities our customers are focusing on, so they can leave the management of HR data and day-to-day errands to CakeHR.

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