What is the Role of an HR Consultant?


Some companies keep all of their HR functions in house, while others choose to outsource certain functions for the sake of expediency. Regardless of whether they’re in house or outsourced, an HR consultant is an integral asset to any HR team. With the right person in place, this position can bring a fountain of experience and varied skill sets to the table to ensure the smooth day to day running of any business.

Human resources (HR) consultants provide advice and guidance to businesses and ensure that an organisation’s human capital serves the best interests of the company. By creating and implementing bespoke HR strategies, they work to ensure the organisation is effectively utilising its personnel to achieve its goals, while working at optimal performance and efficiency levels.

An HR Consultant is often either outsourced from an HR Consultancy or works freelance. They advise and perform HR functions as and when they are needed within the business. Let’s dig deeper into the role of an HR Consultant and what they can do for you and your human capital.

What does an HR Consultant do?

HR Consultants are great communicators and have an in-depth knowledge and understanding of human capital, Human Resources Management, and business processes. They consult for businesses on a number of different areas within the personnel field, including:

  • Working with business leaders to define the company’s HR issues, goals, and requirements

  • Developing and implementing HR models and strategies for different types of businesses

  • Recruiting and selecting the right candidates for vacant positions

  • Producing and implementing training and development programs for employee performance

  • Managing performance levels by administering appraisals and setting goals

  • Ensuring HR programs are in compliance with current employment law and regulations

  • Developing, revising, and implementing HR policies and procedures

  • Resolving any issues that a company might have with its workforce.

What makes a good HR Consultant?

Human capital management skills are top qualities embodied by a good HR Consultant. Demonstrating the ability to acknowledge and invest in employees and train, manage, mentor, and retain good employees is the ultimate goal for this role.

Excellent communication skills are essential for an HR Consultant. The ability to communicate, understand, empathise, and problem-solve with individuals from all levels in the company is imperative.

People assessment skills are highly desired for this role. An HR Consultant must know how to assess the capabilities of candidates during recruitment, along with evaluating incumbent employees suitability for their current or potential roles with the company.

Time management skills for HR Consultants are crucial. The role changes on a daily basis and requires wearing a lot of different hats. The ability to prioritise and be timely and efficient in order to complete varied time-sensitive tasks is essential.

What services do HR Consultants Provide?

HR Consultants can be generalists or specialists in their field. A generalist can provide a wide variety of personnel needs or facilitate specialists where applicable. This can include any of the seven basic HR functions;

  • recruitment and selection

  • training and development

  • performance management

  • compensation and benefits

  • employment law

  • employee relations

  • payroll management

A specialist will consult in depth on any one or a few of these functions with a high level of knowledge, understanding, and performance.

What skills do HR Consultants need?

The following skillset is desired in HR Consultants but not limited:

  • Excellent communication and people skills

  • Good sales and negotiation skills

  • A confident and positive attitude

  • The ability to work under pressure and meet targets

  • A professional manner

  • Good organisational and administrative skills

  • The ability to work well in a team.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the difference between an HR Consultant and an HR Manager?

Typically an HR Consultant is outsourced from a Consultancy Firm or freelancer, whereas an HR Manager is typically hired within an organisation to fulfill the human resources tasks. With an HR Consultant, you can request advice and provision of services as needed. An HR Manager will likely do more day to day management, as opposed to the more strategic focus of a consultant. An internal HR Manager will be familiar with the workings of the business and adjust to specific needs of the industry, whereas an HR Consultant needs to be able to adapt between industries and company dynamics.

How do I get into HR Consulting?

There is no exact educational route to becoming an HR Consultant. Usually a bachelor degree in Human Resources, Business Administration, or Training and Development is desired and a sufficient level of experience working in the HR field is preferred. Consultants usually work their way through a variety of different HR roles to gain the experience, understanding, and knowledge they need to freelance with a multitude of different types of industries.

A masters degree in Human Resources or any type of HR specialisation will set you apart from the crowd and give you a deeper insight and knowledge in your field. Most countries have certification programs specifically for Human Resources and specific HR functions that provide further credentials and skill sets for handling human capital within business.

What’s the best DISC Profile for HR Consultants?

Although there is no specific predetermined DISC profile for HR Consultants, those with a high Influence profile with Steadiness and Compliance would likely succeed. An HR Consultant specialising in Training and Development would benefit from a high Influence and Dominance profile, with a good measure of Compliance. Alternatively, an HR Consultant in recruitment or employment law fields don’t require high Influence, but their Compliance & Steadiness should rank higher.

Is there a demand for HR consultants?

HR consultants fall under the Business Services industry, an essential and growing element of business to business commerce. HR consultants are specialised experts in their field and their knowledge and skills are in high demand across every industry. Companies are always looking for skilled HR consultants who can perform functions such as leadership development, team profiling and general workplace assessments

How does HR consultancy work?

When a company identifies a need for human resources management that isn’t met, they can hire a new employee or contract an HR consultancy. HR consultants can fulfill any need under the realm of HRM and are often an excellent choice when a company has specific unmet needs. The HR consultants will work with current management and employees to develop and implement a plan for a company of any size.

What HR Tools do consultants need?

HR consultants need to have a specialised skill set that allows them to adjust to and meet the needs of their clients. There are many valuable HR tools available for HR consultants to use, but knowing how and when to use them is most important. Available tools include administrative and information systems, assessments, strategic planning, conflict resolution, and much more