They say I’m not proactive enough

I have
worked in HR for eleven years and have completed my CIPD Studies.
I took voluntary redundancy to
enable me to further my HR career but have been largely unsuccessful. I have
been told that my previous role was "not proactive enough". what sort
of proactive work are they looking for?


Vic Daniels, director, Carr Lyons, writes:


Without wishing to appear too unhelpful, I think that you
will need to ask yourself some pretty fundamental questions as to why you have
been unable to further your HR career since you took voluntary redundancy.
Furthermore, you will need to address your main question to the person who
asked it – you will need to get into the habit of challenging the remarks made
to you at the time, rather then reflecting on them later!


Margaret Malpas, joint managing director, Malpas
Flexible Learning, writes:


I am wondering what sort of role you did in HR – was it an
administrative or managerial role? If the former, I think that is why you are
getting this feedback. If this is the case, then look again at the jobs you are
applying for. Are you trying to make too big a leap in level?


Peter Wilford, consultant, Chiumento Consulting Group,


Maybe they are inferring that your previous role was not
front line enough –more of a head office position than an HR position in the
field – and as such not proactively involved in helping line managers.  They could also have seen your work as being
more concerned with routine, day-to-day, HR administration (which is important
but often tends to be seen as being more reactive than proactive) than with
“adding direct value to the business”.


The problem here might well be that you are not getting the
message about your achievements across. 
Employers could be saying that your role has not been proactive because
you have not been able to show many/any achievements.

It is quite a common fault when writing a C.V. and preparing
for interview, to concentrate on role descriptions i.e. I was responsible for
training and development, or, I handled all union negotiations.  While there is obviously a place for these
descriptions, employers are really interested in what you actually achieved in
these roles.  You must be able to
demonstrate in your C.V. what you have done whilst carrying out any of your
previous jobs e.g. I introduced an interactive management training package, or,
I negotiated a two year pay-deal for all office staff.  These achievements are likely to form the
basis for the interview discussion, having considered them beforehand you will
feel more confident and the interview should flow more smoothly.

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