Human Resources Consultants
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Talk to HR consultants about their careers. Ask your school counselor to help arrange an information interview, or try to connect with consultants via professional associations or social-media sites such as LinkedIn. Learn as much as you can about the field of human resources by reading books and professional publications. For more general business exploration, see if your school has a business or young leaders club. If not, you may want to join Business Professionals of America, a membership organization for middle school, high school, and college students who plan to or who are currently pursuing business-related careers. Visit http://www.bpa.org for more information.
Approximately 60 percent of a company’s expenditures are tied to human capital, and companies have realized that investing in this human capital pays off in improved worker productivity, better recruiting and retaining of quality workers, and lowered HR expenses. Thus, the career of HR consultant continues to grow in popularity.
Major HR consulting specialties include the following:
Recruiting and staffing (e.g., sourcing, screening, and interviewing; pre- and post-offer testing; and training)
Training (e.g., organizational development, leadership development, coaching, and job performance improvement)
Benefits (e.g., benefits shopping, writing benefits plans, wellness plans, and retirement plans)
Remuneration and compensation (e.g., pay plans and grading systems, market assessments, and bonus and incentive programs)
Labor relations (e.g., union negotiations and risk assessments)
Employee relations and outplacement (e.g., reductions in workforce, mergers and acquisitions, and business closures)
Other HR consulting specialties include technology and systems, strategy and planning, policies and procedures, health and safety, and compliance.
Some experts categorize human resources consulting as a subsector of management consulting, while others consider it a separate discipline. Human resources consultants have a wide range of duties, depending on their employer and the needs of their clients. Many of their duties are in the areas of compensation and benefits. Typical duties for HR consultants in these areas include creating compensation and benefits packages that are competitive (in order to help clients recruit and retain employees); administering benefits and compensation programs; creating or updating a new division’s benefits package; and reviewing and revising a company’s compensation structure.
Other important duties include helping companies that have merged with each other arrive at a uniform work culture; creating job roles and descriptions for a company that is launching a new department; developing and managing ongoing diversity and work/life balance initiatives; building “competencies” through better and more-efficient training programs; counseling and processing laid-off employees and assisting them in finding new jobs; developing employee surveys to assess the workplace environment as well as worker engagement, attitudes, and fulfillment; handling outsourced duties such as recruiting and hiring; providing actuarial consulting services; and developing and managing HR-related information technology systems to track employee information such as benefits, payroll, attendance, and performance.
External HR consultants are employed by consulting firms such as Mercer LLC and Willis Towers Watson or management consulting firms such as Deloitte that have HR consulting departments. They work with clients on a project basis, and clients are billed by the hour for consultants’ services. Internal HR consultants work as salaried employees for companies and other organizations, and they provide advice only to their employer. Other HR consultants are self-employed and run their own consulting firms.