Hints from HR: Job Hunting Advice From the Group People & Development Manager of Sussan Group – Sussan, Sportsgirl & Suzanne Grae
When you’re job hunting advice — truly helpful advice — can make all the difference in shortcutting the time spent in between jobs. And no one wants to be unemployed for long.
So, JobGetter is bringing you practical tips and insights into what the HR team on the other side of the recruitment equation like and don’t like, what they notice, what impresses them, what disappoints them, and even a bit about where they got their start.
In this issue of “Hints from HR,” we asked all of these questions and more of Robyn Batson, the Group People & Development Manager at Sussan Group. With 30 years experience in human resources, Robyn has incredibly valuable job hunting advice to share.
Our advice? Pay attention to the details in her answers and put her advice into practice. There is absolute gold in her interview below and if you follow her lead, you’ll be sure to stand out in the job market crowd.
Sussan Group — Sussan, Sportsgirl & Suzanne Grae
The Sussan Group is a leading women’s fashion retailer in Australia. We are a privately owned company and comprise of three fashion brands – Sportsgirl, Sussan, and Suzanne Grae. As we operate over 500 stores and employ over 4000 people in full-time, part-time, and casual positions there are always new opportunities arising to progress your career. We have a focus on developing and promoting diverse talent from within the business. Our leaders are inspirational and our team members value the unique culture of our business, including our values around diversity, flexibility, work-life balance, family, the community and environment.
What was your first job?
I did some casual waitressing in cafes and hotels.
How long have you worked in HR?
I have worked in this area for over 30 years
When you were 9 years old, what did you want to be when you “grew up?”
I thought I wanted to be a carpenter.
What is your favourite part of your job?
I love working with and assisting people to grow and develop and achieve their career aspirations. It’s rewarding to see how our team members continue to take on new roles and opportunities and to ensure we provide ongoing training and development to assist them.
HINTS FROM ROBYN
What I look for in candidates:
It’s really important that you are passionate and enthusiastic about the opportunity. There needs to be an obvious willingness to apply your skills and continue to learn and grow, and a real interest in our brands. Relevant experience always needs to be considered.
To me, the most employable skills a candidate could have are:
Great teamwork and communication skills will always take you places. Being proactive, working together with others, making decisions, problem-solving and achieving goals often take the involvement of more than just one person.
My advice to applicants who want to stand out:
Do your research! If you’re applying for a role in VM (visual merchandising) – we want to know your observations of our stores, windows, merchandise placement and product stories. If you’re a print designer, why not present a few print options for an upcoming season in your application?
Something you might not know about working for Sussan Group (Sussan, Sportsgirl, Suzanne Grae):
At the Sussan Group, we are very passionate about internal career progression. We are forever spending time on the growth of our teams and bringing them on a journey.
We also have longstanding community partnerships – these relationships are very special to our Company.
The biggest mistake you could make:
We all know that traffic, public transport and/or Google Maps can really challenge us at times, and often on the days you really need them to be your best friend; but if you’re late, lost or unable to attend an interview, be sure to communicate that to the relevant contact.
The first thing I notice about a resume:
It’s format. Where possible ensure your resume is easy to read and clear to understand. I also think it’s nice to have a resume slightly tailored to your personality. If you’re in the creative industry, let your resume be a little reflection of your own aesthetic and taste.
Another really important document is your cover letter. Don’t forget to write one and don’t forget to be specific about the business and position you’re applying for. Everyone can see through a generic cover letter, and sending one where you have included incorrect information about the actual position/company you are applying for is a sign that you haven’t taken the time to complete this properly.
Use this document as an opportunity to sell yourself and show your genuine interest in the specific position you are applying for – it’s your personal marketing tool.
The first thing I notice about a candidate at an interview:
Their level of engagement, interest in the position and the business. It’s also always important to present well and greet the interviewers in an appropriate manner.
Questions a candidate should never ask:
Questions are good. Remember this interview is a two-way process – you need to know that the position, the company, and the culture is right for you too.
I guess there are things that you could avoid asking but I’d say that would just be common sense.
Don’t shy away from asking:
More about the culture of the business as well as the challenges in the role and across the greater business. Also don’t shy away from asking why the role has become vacant and the salary range for the position. It is also important to ask about your Manager so you can determine if they are the sort of person you would like to work with.
Don’t let this hold you back:
Experience in the specific industry. Perhaps we’re recruiting for an Assistant Accountant and you’ve had experience as an Assistant Accountant in hospitality but not retail. Don’t let that worry you. You might, in fact, have the perfect skill set for a position and it’s only the industry that’s new to you – don’t let this hold you back from applying as we are always looking for transferable skills.
What I want to know about you as a person:
I want to know about your career goals – both short and long term and how this role fits in with these. It’s great to hear about candidate’s career and personal achievements. It also helps to know how you like to work and be managed.
What homework I expect you to have done before the interview:
It’s important to have a good understanding of the position as per the job description. If you don’t have the job description – ask for one. You should aim to research and have a general understanding of the business and some of the work we’ve done, e.g. the charities we support. I like candidates to have visited our stores prior to the interview so they can talk about their experience.
My advice to a candidate who wasn’t successful:
I would suggest treating that process as another opportunity – there is no doubt that you’ve learnt something along the way. If you are genuinely passionate and interested, apply for another role if a suitable opportunity arises, or ensure you have expressed an interest through our website.