Hundreds of applicants for 1 job: HR professionals face changing landscape

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  • Changing HR landscape: Pictured (from left) BHRA vice president Lisa Robinson, secretary Charmaine White, BHRA president Jenny Smatt Adkins, and board member and events committee chair Ruth Stovell.
 (Photo by Mark Tatem)

    Changing HR landscape: Pictured (from left) BHRA vice president Lisa Robinson, secretary Charmaine White, BHRA president Jenny Smatt Adkins, and board member and events committee chair Ruth Stovell. (Photo by Mark Tatem)

Hundreds of applications for one job, and finding the right balance between reducing labour costs and keeping employees happy — the Island’s prolonged economic downturn has dramatically changed the work environment for Bermuda’s HR professionals.

Jenny Smatt Adkins, who has taken over as president of the Bermuda Human Resources Association, said one of the biggest challenges for HR professionals today is balancing the interests of both the employer and the employee, which she says “requires both creativity and depth of technical knowledge”.

“We must find ways to reduce the cost of labour, while at the same time, establish effective reward and recognition processes that keep employees engaged, said Ms Smatt Adkins, who is president of her own HR consulting firm Ontru.

“There is a level of fear, distrust and scepticism in many environments which challenges productivity and morale. In my view, this is a time of rebalancing and refocusing.”

She continued: “As HR professionals, we must maintain a balanced view and provide sound advice within an ever-changing landscape. We are able to assist organisations with developing solutions that demonstrate they genuinely value their human capital and are focused on retaining top talent.”

Ms Smatt Adkins said in addition HR professionals are dealing with different sets of issues across industries.

“In some organisations, globalisation is the main area of focus,” she said. “In contrast, smaller organisations are trying to optimise their workforce levels and just ‘survive’.

“The demands are increasing. As an example, our administrative responsibilities are at levels never seen before as it is not uncommon to receive hundreds of applications for one position.”

Another major issue in Bermuda is jobs for Bermudians versus the needs of international companies.

“The BHRA believes this is a pivotal time for Bermuda and HR professionals play a key role in identifying, selecting and developing a diverse workforce,” she said.

“There are many dynamics within the workplace we must manage well.”

Her advice to job seekers is “to network, network and network”.

“The employment landscape is highly competitive and the more raving fans you have advocating on your behalf the better,” she said.

“Job seekers must also develop their ability to articulate their value proposition to potential employers.”

And in addition, soft skills such as initiative, interpersonal and customer service are equally if not more important than technical qualifications.

They are “differentiators”.

“I believe the types of jobs in Bermuda are changing and it is imperative for everyone to keep their skills sharp and invest in ongoing learning and development,” she said.

“Many people became complacent and have been forced to retool.”

Ms Smatt Adkins was elected president in October of last year, however, officially assumed the position in January of this year.

She is supported by a team of HR professionals on the Board and Advisory Committee.

“The Board develops the strategy for the organisation and is responsible for implementing the objectives set at the beginning of the year with respect to membership, professional development and certification to name a few,” she said.

“The Advisory Committee is comprised of a group of seasoned HR professionals who focus on current strategic and legislative issues.”

She added: “As the leader of the BHRA in unprecedented economic times, our organisation’s focus is on ensuring HR professionals are as sharp and skilled as possible.

“We currently have approximately 150 active members. Our membership allows professionals to stay informed about current local and international HR trends and practices. Members receive information regarding legislative changes, have access to different learning forums on human resources and business topics, the opportunity to network with professionals who have similar responsibilities and challenges.

“The BHRA also coordinates preparation workshops and examinations to obtain professional certifications. In addition to members who have full time HR responsibility, we invite those who may have operational or financial roles with added responsibility for human resources matters. There are two types of membership to this end — professional and associate.

“Another priority for us is to work collaboratively with other organisations that have similar interests. We value working with other stakeholder organisations such as the Chamber of Commerce, The Bermuda Employer’s Council, ABIR, ABIC to develop solutions and leverage synergies that make sense for all of us..”

“The National Training Board has expanded its membership and new work permit policy changes have been in the fore most recently. The BHRA is currently participating in and supporting whenever and wherever we can.”

n For more information or to become a member, visit their website at

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Published Jul 29, 2013 at 8:00 am (Updated Jul 28, 2013 at 5:43 pm)

Hundreds of applicants for 1 job: HR professionals face changing landscape

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