What Does an HR Consultant Do?
HR consultants offer a wide range of services that include professional consulting, education, training, and solutions for corporate and small business clients.
If a company isn't satisfied with its current human capital management, it might hire an HR consultant to create plans to bolster employee efficiency. HR consultant usually does this by creating company-specific plans and models. Meaning, it's up to the human resources consultant to explore and pinpoint weaknesses a firm might have in its human capital. Accordingly, the HR consultant must develop and offer solutions that benefit the client.
This article will further explain the knowledge, education, average salary, and duties that come with the job.
Human Resource Consultant Job Description
As stated, an HR consultant helps organizations, companies, and businesses to improve their overall HR efficiency. Some companies need help hiring professionals, business administration, or general management, while other companies can have issues related to their specific industry.
One thing to note is that there are two general client types that seek HR consultant's services. It can either be a company looking to help with their internal problems or a bigger HR consulting company looking for an HR consultant professional to help their clients.
Unlike an HR director or an HR manager, who are hired internally, an HR consultant is often hired from the outside.
This has both benefits and detriments. Since an HR consultant acts as an external agent, they are open to more job opportunities and clients. But that also means that, unlike other HR professionals, an HR consultant needs to constantly hunt for job opportunities to advance their skills and career path.
Additionally, HR consultants will likely work in different industry fields than other HR professionals, such as HR specialists. Although this comes with challenges, this can lead to a more successful career, a bigger compensation, and an advanced business degree.
Nevertheless, a business is likely to hire an HR consultant since it can be more financially effective. Meaning, an organization may pay less by hiring an HR consulting individual than offering full-time employment to an HR specialist or an HR manager.
Suppose a company is hiring a human resources consultant. In that case, they are looking for an individual whose skills and knowledge can either build the company's human resource foundation from the bottom or alter it in a way that improves the work habits of its employees.
If a business already has an HR team, HR consultants will often give advice to HR seniors to create fresh working programs that guarantee success.
You can imagine HR consultants as individuals who offer momentary solutions that can improve a company's human resource management short term.
HR Consultant Requirements
When it comes to requirements, essentials don't differ compared to other high human resources positions.
The core requirements for becoming an HR consultant are:
- Bachelor's degree in human resources or business administration.
- Minimum 3 years of experience in human resources.
- Human resources certification. Although not mandatory, PHR or SPHR certification helps to find clients and job opportunities.
- Knowledge and experience with human resource software, including ATS and payroll software.
According to the research done by PayScale, how much a certification helps with landing jobs and better earnings depends on the industry. Certification holders get a 29.5% earning boost on average, but it's higher in healthcare (38.3%) than in technology (23.1%).
Since HR consultants are more likely to jump from one industry to another, single or multiple certifications can help find new jobs and ask for better compensation.
Bachelor's degree is the minimum required education, but human resources consultants can look for continuing education and training during their careers. Usually, HR consultants get additional education or get a degree in marketing, economics, finance, accounting, and psychology.
Other skills that HR consultants should master are:
- Excellent understanding of HR legislation and procedures. This also means staying up-to-date with law changes.
- Advanced communication and writing skills. Although HR consultants usually don't write articles, they need to develop outlines and starting ideas.
- Great management and problem-solving abilities.
- Ability to protect interests and secure business secrets.
HR consultants are experts, and this means they need exceptional experience. A good start to build experience is to start as an intern. Overall, before starting a consulting business, individuals should harness experience in companies at lower human resource positions first.
Just having a bachelor's degree and theoretical knowledge likely won't be enough to be competitive as an independent human resources consultant.
HR Consultant Salary
According to Glassdoor, the average annual salary for human resources consultants is $77,885.
The HR consultant often plays a pivotal role in an organization's HR department. Since the HR consultant often acts as a third-party advisor, they can have a more objective and complex overview of how well the organization performs. A true professional can zero in on both local and external issues that are hindering further development.
More than with other human resources jobs, an HR consultant's salary depends on experience. Consultants with 1-4 years of experience can expect an average salary of $66,683. Salary can go up to $89,226 for consultants with more than 20 years of experience.
Earnings also depend on location and states. On average, HR consultants will earn more in New York or Massachusetts.
Human Resources Consultant Responsibilities
In general terms, HR consultants are problem solvers. Meaning, companies expect a consultant to give advice on management, hiring procedures, and other issues related to human resources that can be put in action short-term.
Unlike an HR specialist who often focuses on just hiring or administration, an HR consultant must possess the ability to switch from one area to another.
An employer will expect the HR consultant to develop solutions for anything, ranging from employee training and support to create an efficient payroll system.
It's also possible that a business will seek HR consultants who'll help them with different jobs that are more long-term. This is often the case with designing programs or collecting data to zero in on a specific issue.
Some of the most common consultant responsibilities and duties are:
- Create an employment program and help the HR team execute new job plans.
- Create and conduct research and survey plans to pinpoint underlying issues.
- Provide advice on managing employees and general management.
- Assess the company's compliance with laws and regulations.
- Establish a program for compliance with efficient human resources practices.
- Give advice on proper human resources technology depending on the business niche.
Although HR consultants follow general consulting practices, expert consultants will always adjust their skills related to their niche.
For example, a hiring program should be different for a medical institution and a small IT business. An emerging IT startup might be open to hiring less-experienced individuals but need somebody who's highly proactive and can adjust to the dynamic workflow. On the other hand, a medical institution will employ someone with a medical degree and who can perform a specific task long-term without compromising the effectiveness.
It's the HR consultant's job to support clients with tailor-made solutions. HR consultant's responsibilities end with achieving a goal, but it's in the consultant's career interest to provide top-quality programs and solutions.
Becoming a Successful HR Consultant
Like with any job, when starting an independent career, consultants need to develop skills that can go outside their comfort zone. This can include administrative skills and, more importantly, negotiation skills.
HR business is competitive, and besides getting additional education, there are other steps an HR consultant should take.
Creating a Client Base for HR Consultants
The first hurdle newly starting consultants need to overcome is building a base of quality clientele. A solid starting point is previous employers, and connections consultants create throughout their careers.
Most consultants usually decide to go independent after they feel comfortable enough with their client network. Instead of building a network when starting the business, the consultant should start much earlier. Proactivity is usually the key to a fruitful company.
Another option is affiliating with an established consulting company. Consultants can offer their services to a company instead of individuals. This is a great way to keep the service afloat and create future connections simultaneously.
The third option is to attend featured HR conferences and "plant seeds" while producing new connections.
Multi-Niche or Single Niche
While some consultants will focus on providing services to IT companies exclusively, others will search to provide services to different organizations and businesses.
Instead of becoming a generalist, most consultants decide to take the specialist path. Usually, it's easier to find clients. More importantly, it's easier to fulfill consulting duties when specializing in a single field.
Although becoming a jack of all trades sounds compelling, multi-niche management can become overwhelming; thus, the quality may suffer. Finally, getting featured in a specific industry can put a consultant in the limelight quicker.
The procedures a consultant needs to follow can feel like a second job, so it's usually preferable to go with a single program for a single company type.
Some HR consultants will focus on IT company HR management, while others will pivot to finding and training manufacturing employees.
Although specializing comes with higher pay and easier work management, it can limit the client pool. The best approach is to prioritize a single niche and keep a watchful eye on related industries.
Create an Online Presence
Finally, it's critical to create an online presence. Getting featured on a competitive website can bring in clients outside your working network. Similarly, having an SEO-optimized website is a sure way to create a presence long-term.
Online advertising success depends on the clients a consultant is targeting. This goes back to picking a niche. Writing articles and other online content will depend on the consultant's clients. If an HR consultant aims at IT companies, they should create a website and content that talks to that client type.
While some clients spend more time on Twitter, others might search for consultants on websites like Linkedin exclusively.
Either way, by building a robust online presence, consultants can focus more on their responsibilities and duties instead of spending time searching for potential clients.
Josh Fechter has worked in the HR benefits and payroll software industry for the last several years.