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HR Consultant as Career: Job Description, Scope, Impact


Introduction

The need for HR Consultation is increasing in the market, and people having a background in HR can start their careers as HR consultants. It is not that difficult to become an HR consultant. If you have relevant HR-related experience, skills, and abilities, becoming an HR consultant can be very easy. Working as an HR consultant could also be professionally and financially rewarding for you.

What is HR Consultation?

HR consultants simply work as consultants, but their work orbits around providing consultation for one or more than one category of HR-related services to big corporations or small businesses. The best part about HR consultancy is that you are not obliged to work for the company on a full-time basis, you can work as an independent consultant and manage consultancy of other businesses simultaneously.

An HR Consultant provides a variety of HR-related tasks, such as developing an employee benefits package and managing the recruitment process, and they can also act as a middle party to solve employee-manager issues. However, when some consultants provide a variety of services, some consultants specialize in a particular area of HR, such as labor relations.

If you want to start your career as an HR consultant, then you can either join an HR consultation firm or select particular businesses and handle their HR-related tasks. A consultation firm could use your professional expertise to solve the issues of any company, or they could also assign you a company for which you would be the sole advisor over HR-related problems. On the other hand, if you plan to work as a consultant on an individual level, then you need to start by selecting companies as your clients, and then you can manage their HR-related issues easily.

What does an HR Consultant do?

If I were to tell you the roles of an HR consultant, then in a nutshell I would say that HR consultants provide a wide array of services, which includes education, training, professional consultation, business analysis, management counseling, formation of human resource policies, and so on. As people are considered to be the backbone of a company, all the corporations in the world, whether they are big or small, constantly try to create a well-organized and friendly environment for their employees. To create this sort of culture, companies try to improve and modernize their HR policies and employee management policies, so that they can create the environment they are hoping for.

Human Resources is the most important department of any organization because they do the most important task, managing employees and keeping them satisfied. Employee satisfaction and retention is the highest priority of any organization, and to achieve this goal, HR consultants help organizations. Through HR consultancy, companies receive experienced counseling in a very budget-friendly manner.

It is also very important to know the main difference between HR Consultants and HR Managers. An HR manager is an internal employee of the organization who handles all human resources-related responsibilities and roles strategically. An HR manager is a salary-based employee of an organization and they mainly look over or manage HR tasks, such as the recruitment and selection process, compensation and benefits, training and development, performance management, etc. However, an HR consultant has very distinctive duties in comparison to an HR Manager. Firstly, an HR consultant is not a full-time employee of the organization, most of the time they are hired from external sources, and the main responsibility of a consultant is to embody the administrative functions of a business, which starts from the planning stage and ends to its perfect execution stage. Every company needs a different policy or a different approach to the same issue, so an HR consultant’s job is to guide them on each step on how they could execute the policy or efficiently solve the issue. An HR Manager and an HR Consultant always work hand-in-hand, because when a consultant conveys a plan, the manager tries to implement that plan efficiently.

As discussed earlier, an HR consultant can either specialize in one particular area of HR, or they can offer generalized services to their clients. Some of the services which an HR consultant provides are listed below. An HR Consultant is required to generate a suitable plan depending on the situation and the company’s requirements, the plan should be realistic according to the scenario and should also be strictly monitored.

Talent Management – Talent acquisition is considered to be the most important task of HR. Talent Management refers to how a company would identify and recruit employees that are highly productive for the organization, and it also focuses on how to retain employees. A strong talent management process leads to higher customer satisfaction and it also increases growth opportunities for the company. Talent Management includes a variety of tasks, including workforce planning, recruitment, performance management, succession planning, etc.

Organizational Change – Every organization at some point changes, whether it be a small change or a huge transition, but in either case, the organization’s structure and operations are affected. Organizational Change simply refers to the actions of an organization where it changes a major element of its internal processes. This could be a change in the organizational culture, its infrastructure, its operations, or any other sort of thing. Organizational Change is necessary for the growth or expansion of the organization, and therefore it is also a very risky process. To carry out an effective plan for organizational change management, a consultant creates an effective communication plan, considers all of the possibilities, and devises a plan that could withhold any sort of situation.

Compensation & Benefits – Compensation is a reward paid to employees for the work they have done for the organization. While benefits refer to a non-financial reward that is granted to an employee as a token of appreciation for their work. As an HR Consultant, you will be advised to design a benefits plan for the employees in such a manner that it is also attractive and it is also beneficial for the employer.

Learning & Development – For the learning & development (L&D) area, a constant need for market research and frequent improvement in the plan is needed. The market today is extremely dynamic, and to deal with this problem L&D is needed. L&D could cover a lot of areas, from training, and mentorship programs, to development activities, everything is covered under this section. Even though L&D mainly focuses on upskilling your employees, as employees make the organization, upskilling the employees means upgrading the organization, therefore HR consultants have to be very vigilant for this HR role.

How to Become an HR Consultant?

The skills required to become an HR consultant are commonly found in HR professionals as it all falls under the same domain. Some of the skills are:

Communication Skills – For any sort of consultancy, strong communication skills are a must. Consultancy broadly consists of explaining and convincing the other party over something, without proper communication skills the client might take action that could be dangerous for them and for your career too. Strong communication skills are also needed to make the company understand the cause of their ongoing issues and what strategy you’ve come up with to solve that problem. In consultancy, you should be able to communicate clearly and in a way that sounds promising and reassuring to the other party.

Human Resource Management Skills – Everyone that is connected with HR should possess this particular skill. Every HR consultant’s primary responsibility is to handle the human resources capital of the organization, and they should strive to attract the best candidates and retain them. Consultants should also know about Human Resources Information Systems (HRIS), and they should also know how to operate the software so that it is helpful for the organization.

Time Management Skills – An HR consultant’s job is mainly time-sensitive. For example, if you are told to create a plan for the recruitment process for a role that is urgently needed, then you cannot take days or weeks to create a plan, you need to act quickly and provide them with the plan as fast as possible so that they could fill in the position for the role. Everyone wants their work to be completed first, but an HR consultant also must prioritize the work efficiently and effectively. By identifying which task is urgent and which task could wait, a good consultant will only know how to plan and handle everything successfully.

Decision-Making Skills – Decision-making is a crucial element of HR consultancy. During consultancy, many such situations will occur that would require considering multiple viewpoints, and from that, the best one would need to be selected. Having strong decision-making skills covers a lot of points, it means that you also have emotional intelligence, creativity, intuition, the ability to work in teams, and most importantly problem-solving skills. Highlighting your decision-making skills in front of the company could be very beneficial for you because every organization searches for an individual that could handle unanticipated problems and also all the other issues in an accomplishing way.

Motivational & Mentoring Skills – As it is discussed earlier, learning and development play a vital role in upscaling employees. However, before employees reach this stage, it is the consultant’s job to mentor and motivate employees to grasp that skill. Employee satisfaction is a very difficult task, and organizations nowadays spend thousands of dollars on increasing employee satisfaction. An HR consultant must devise such a plan that an employee automatically gets attracted to the organization. This could be done in several ways, such as attractive benefits, attractive salary packages, a friendly culture, or some other financial or non-financial perks.

Experience & Qualifications Needed to Become an HR Consultant

There is no prescribed eligibility to become a consultant if you possess the above-mentioned skills and could provide the services that are expected from an HR consultant, then you are good to go. But those skills and abilities will not come by watching YouTube videos or gaining diplomas in HR. There is always a first step towards anything, which is also written in the following article. However, with additional qualifications, certifications, and experience you can get way ahead of other consultants.

Bachelor’s Degree – The first step is to acquire a bachelor’s degree, which is typically a requirement for this career. If you haven’t even attended a Bachelor’s program, no company will choose you as your consultant, because for every role a qualified person will be selected, and a bachelor’s degree is just the beginning. A Bachelor’s program is a 4-year program where you can choose Human Resources as your major. Having a bachelor’s degree in Human Resources would look very attractive on your resume too.

Relevant Experience – Gaining experience is the most significant step. While pursuing a bachelor’s degree, you can do certain internships or jobs alongside that to gain experience. A practical representation of the work will help you understand things in a better way and this will also allow you to learn a lot of new things that cannot be learned through textbooks. Doing an internship also helps you apply your knowledge and skills in the field, which increases your exposure and you also learn the alternatives to do certain things. If you can’t gain experience during the undergraduate program, then you can even gain it after your graduation. After gaining relevant experience, then you could step in to start your career as an HR Consultant.

Specialization or Generalization – Now the question arises, do you want to become a specialized HR consultant or a generalized one? While pursuing your undergraduate degree and also during internships or jobs you will seem to notice that within a field, such as a performance management system, there are several other branches linked to it. A specialized consultant will only focus on one field and give suggestions, execute plans, and monitor and handle the issues related to that field only. A specialized consultant will be known as an expert in that field, but the major drawback is that the demand for specialized HR consultants is not very high. The reason for low demand is that companies want those HR consultants that could provide them with a maximum number of services.

A generalized HR consultant provides a whole array of services, such as compensation and benefits, training and development, talent management, and so on. Demand for generalized HR consultants is high because of the availability of services. Companies often prefer generalized consultants because they are relatively inexpensive than specialized ones, and they also offer multiple services. However, giant corporations or big MNCs prefer specialized HR consultants because certain issues occur frequently and to solve those issues an expert is needed. Both types of consultancies have their own pros and cons, the choice you make depends on you.

Get Certified – Certification makes you way ahead of your competitors. The more qualified you are, the more the companies show interest in you. Getting the HR certification is not a compulsory requirement, but it makes your resume look more attractive in front of companies. Apart from this, acquiring certifications also helps in increasing your contacts and connections, which could help increase your clientele in the future.

Master’s Degree – A master’s degree shows a high level of competency and knowledge that will make you shine from all the other consultants. A master’s degree is not a compulsion, but many top-tier companies prefer a candidate with a master’s degree. A master’s degree also helps you gain more experience and skills to become a specialized HR Consultant. A bachelor’s degree is slightly generalized, but a Master’s degree hits right on the bull’s eye, so if you want to get ahead of all the other consultants in the market, then you better get a Master’s degree in HR.

Build a clientele – If you are planning to start your own HR consulting business, then building a clientele should be your top priority. Clients do not come to your doorstep, nor do you build a clientele instantly, acquiring clients is an ongoing process. You can build a client base by expanding your network or getting recommendations through colleagues and friends. You can also increase the clientele through your existing clients, therefore always keep your clients as your first priority. Once you have managed to acquire a sufficient number of clients, then you can employ other people to increase the client base further.

Scope of HR Consultancy

The HR Consultancy market is estimated to be worth around $31 billion, which represents approximately 10% of the total global consulting market. There was a period when the HR consultancy market had a huge drop because of the economic crisis globally. As the consultancy market is the smallest of the six main industry segments, it was affected by the crisis on a large scale. During the economic crisis, companies started to shut down, big corporations started to downsize, the financial markets started to crash, unemployment rose recklessly, and because of the huge instability in the services sector, companies didn’t opt for HR consultancy.

However, after the economic crisis had settled down, in 2011 the market for HR consultancy started growing, and that growth has been restored and the annual revenue for HR consulting services also increased to $1 billion. The annual growth percentages have also increased, and it has shown the best performance in recent years.

The scope of HR consulting services is said to increase in the upcoming years, as the world is shifting to an era where employees are considered to be an asset of an organization rather than a worker. In recent years, organizations have started to invest in their employees, they have started to focus on employee retention and employee satisfaction. Organizations have put employees as their priority, and when employees are considered important, so are HR services. The 21st century has also commenced an era of diversity and inclusion, which is a new concept for a lot of organizations, therefore the expertise and knowledge of HR consulting services could be of great use for these organizations.

Impact of HR Consultancy

HR consultancy will not only solve the existing problems of the company, but HR consultants plan in a certain way that any future problem could also be avoided. HR is all about employees, and HR consultants focus on managing employees and keeping them satisfied. In addition to this, HR consultancy also helps in identifying the best talent from a pool of candidates, and when the best candidates are selected, then that will automatically create a positive impact on the company’s growth. HR consultancy also helps to accelerate the business through other touchpoints as well, such as:

  • The right candidate is selected from many candidates by assessing each candidate and highlighting their potential and also making the recruitment process very smooth.
  • Your company can design and launch engagement surveys, which could help in long-term employee engagement and retention rates.
    Every organization has a set of policies and practices, which needs to abide by the law. HR consultants make sure that no set of policies and practices go against the existing law, and they make sure that the policies are revised and updated each time any new labor law has formed.
  • HR Consultants have a major role in the employee’s skill development stage. The consultants make sure that the employees are updated with modern technology and modern teachings. They also make sure that if any suitable workshop or seminar or conference is held, which could help the organization, then it is the consultant’s job to motivate employees to attend the event.
  • Generating training plans is also one of the tasks of HR consultants. Good training can open up the thinking prospects of an employee and it can also develop a healthy employer-employee relationship. Through constant training, the employee will also get motivated and will feel valued.
  • Increases productivity. While HR consultants are planning, executing, and managing all HR-related issues, the HR team of the firm could focus on the perfect implementation of the devised plan.