How to Become a Human Resources Consultant

Diverse team of HR workers interviewing candidate for job offer, attending employment and recruitment meeting in office. Business people talking to jobless woman about career opportunity.

The term “human resources” was initially coined in the 1960s, when ideas like organisational behaviour, employee motivation and selection assessments first began to take shape in business. Human resources consultants provide firms with a variety of consultancy practices related to all employee levels within a company. They assess business practices and find solutions to make an organisation’s operations run more smoothly.

If you want to become a human resources consultant, you’ll need to have the right skills and experience. In the following educational information, you’ll discover what a human resources consultant actually does on a daily basis, what key skills you need to possess if you want to be a successful consultant, how much you can earn in this job role and what qualifications you need. Read on to find out whether this profession is the right one for you.

What is a human resources consultant?

Human resources consultants assist businesses in developing efficient and productive operational tasks. The title of “human resources consultant” is a bit of an umbrella term, as the job role can focus on a number of general responsibilities and duties concerning human resources or it can focus on specialised areas of work such as recruiting new staff or dealing with a firm’s health and safety issues. Human resources consultants can either work directly as employees of companies or they can work in a freelance capacity. 

You will need to have a thorough understanding of human resources practices and management, so you can go into any organisation and help it to resolve its problems. As a human resources consultant, it’s your job to ensure clients receive the most effective advice and assistance about best practices, in order to help businesses to grow and overcome difficult situations. 

As a human resources consultant, you will typically work in an office environment. The job will usually involve working with staff members in all departments of a company, from the lowest levels to the highest. Working hours for this job tend to be the normal business hours of nine a.m. to five-thirty p.m., Monday to Friday. However, it’s not unusual for human resources consultants to take work home with them to complete in evenings and weekends.

What do human resources consultants actually do?

It’s your responsibility as a human resources consultant to anticipate and identify any problems with the human resources functioning of an organisation. Once you have identified the concerns, you have to find a way of fixing them. Your tasks and responsibilities will differ from day to day, so you need to be able to think on your feet and work well under pressure. You’ll have to possess great strategic and organisational skills so you can meet the needs of the organisation you work for. Although your daily tasks and responsibilities will vary, typical duties of a human resources consultant include:

  • Assessing internal guidelines and procedures.
  • Assisting with the recruitment of new staff.
  • Making suggestions and proposals on how an organisation can improve its human resources operations.
  • Implementing company policies throughout the business.
  • Ensuring clients are aware of the latest employment legislations.
  • Assisting with disciplinaries and dismissals.
  • Assisting with legal matters.
  • Giving advice about remuneration issues, such as salaries.

Human Resources Consultant Job Description

The job description for a human resources consultant can vary greatly. Your responsibilities and duties will depend on the type of consultancy you’re involved with, the type of company you work for and whether you work as a freelancer with different clients or whether you’re employed by just one firm. Typically, your responsibilities as a human resources consultant will include:

  • Analysing existing human resources programmes and suggesting solutions for the issues you find.
  • Giving advice about human resources processes and plans.
  • Developing new human resources policies and procedures.
  • Finding new ways to analyse data.
  • Formulating reports.
  • Planning and delivering training sessions, seminars and workshops to employees or senior management.
  • Auditing human resources activities to make sure they comply with legislation and procedures.
  • Preparing development plans for key members of staff.
  • Reviewing pay scales.
  • Advising on health and safety issues.

Key Skills for a Human Resources Consultant

You’ll need previous experience in a human resources role before you can become a human resources consultant. You’ll also need to have excellent communication and interpersonal skills. After all, humans-resources work is first and foremost about human beings. 

Business team explaining working problems

Key skills include being able to lead, manage and influence people across the business. You will therefore need to have the relevant key skills to build relationships with an organisation’s senior management staff members and its employees at every level. Other key skills you’ll need to possess include:

  • The ability to formulate business plans.
  • The ability to be adaptable to organisational changes and to provide solutions for when these changes arise.
  • The ability to work with human resources IT programmes.
  • The ability to apply commercial thinking to the needs of clients and their customers.
  • The ability to plan to ensure results are delivered. 
  • Strong motivational skills.

Useful Work Experience

This isn’t a job you can begin without any prior experience. It’s essential you have generalist human resources experience. Although you could do a voluntary placement in a human resources department to get work experience, you’ll only be able to become a human resources consultant if you have worked professionally in the sector before. Your previous experience needs to include delivering change management initiatives, problem solving and data analysis. You must have gained strong communication skills and have proven business acumen. 

Average Salaries for a Human Resources Consultant

The salary of a human resources consultant can be wide ranging. The amount you can earn depends on a number of factors, such as whether you’re a freelance consultant or whether you work directly for an organisation, and the amount of experience and expertise you have. The salary rate also depends on the precise sector you work in. 

Typically, entry-level human resources consultants can expect to begin on a wage of between £20,000 and £29,000 per year. Experienced consultants can expect to earn around £58,000 per year. At the high end of the pay scale, you could even earn as much as £65,000 per year; making it one of the highest paid jobs in the United Kingdom.

Qualifications for a Human Resources Consultant

Although you don’t officially need to have a degree to become a human resources consultant, it is recommended. You’ll be able to find work or start up your own freelance consultancy business if you have a Bachelor’s degree in a relevant subject, such as human resources, business management or business administration. To apply for a Bachelor’s degree, you will typically need to have two A levels or equivalent qualifications. A Bachelor’s degree course usually takes three or four years of full-time study to complete.

Similarly, you don’t need to hold a specific human resources qualification that’s specific to the industry, but it does help. You can get human resources qualifications from within the industry by taking a course through the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development. By completing courses in areas of study like human resources consultancy and human resources management, you can obtain qualifications like a CIPD Level Five or Level Seven Certificate. 

Career Progression

Human resources consultancy covers so many different areas, that it’s fairly straightforward to move into a specialised area. Furthermore, if you work for a firm directly, you could take steps to progress in your career by setting up your own freelance human resources consultancy business. There are plenty of opportunities for promotion within the human resources consultancy sector too. With experience and expertise under your belt, you could become a senior human resources manager, a human resources business partner or a human resources director.

In Conclusion

If you have previous experience in the human resources sector and you have excellent communication and organisational skills, you can consider becoming a human resources consultant. This is a demanding job in which your tasks and responsibilities will vary on a daily basis. Typically, you will analyse data, give advice and find solutions to problems, within the framework of a specific company. You’ll be working closely with employees of all levels and senior management. You’ll be providing training session and workshops, advising on health and safety issues, auditing human resources activities and much more.

Although not mandatory, it’s helpful to have a degree in a related subject like business administration or business management. You could also earn an industry-specific qualification through the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development. The more relevant qualifications you possess, the more high-level work you will be able to engage with. In turn, this means you’ll be able to earn a higher salary. Most entry-level human resources consultants start off on a salary of around £20,000 to £29,000 per year. With drive and dedication, and a proven track record of successful human resources consultancy work, you could earn as much as £65,000 per year.