Job Title: Human Resources Consultant
Type of Company: My company is a human resources consulting firm providing customized, cost-effective, and creative solutions to the labor requirements of small to medium-sized businesses.
Education: BS, Public Health M.Ed., Counseling and Consulting Psychology
Previous Experience: I worked as counselor, social worker and health educator in non-profit organizations. After I received my master's degree I started work as an entry-level administrative assistant in Human Resources for a high tech company. I quickly became a specialist and then a manager. Since then I have worked for several other organizations in staff roles and for dozens of organizations of all types as a consultant.
Job Tasks: Being a Human Resources Consultant is something that you can do after you gain several years of experience in the field. I use a variety of skills developed through course work and experience, including verbal and written communication, analysis, negotiation, influencing, decision-making, judgment and strategizing.
A typical day would include many email and phone communications with staff and managers, always having to be careful choose my words and manage my one. I will review job descriptions and research compensation information gleaned from salary surveys and directly, sometimes, from HR staff at other comparable companies. I'll create an Excel spreadsheet and analyze the data. Only then will I contact the manager and make a recommendation for pay on the job. Sometimes I am reviewing a request for a promotion. Sometimes I hear about a big problem - like a lot of staff leaving the organization in a department. I will investigate why the employees left to determine how to fix the problem. I might use exit interviews with the employees who have left, interviews with staff still employed, talk to managers, etc. I'll review all the data and make a recommendation. The result may be coaching for the manager to do a better job at managing staff and/or training for the entire group to understand how to work together better, and/or recommend that some pay discrepancies be rectified, etc.
Best and Worst Parts of the Job: The best part of the job is its constant variety. Human Resources is very diverse. It covers benefits, compensation, employee relations, recruiting, organizational development, performance management, training and more. It is never dull, because it all relates to people. Any organization is like a large family, with it's own unique characteristics, culture and level of functionality and dysfunction. This keeps all human resources staff busy. Change in any organization is the constant.
Job Tips: I would recommend pursuing a college degree in psychology, human resources or anything related to human behavior. Taking some business courses will also help. But getting out into the work environment is key. You should definitely pursue internships. I also recommend offering your assistance to an organization that you would like to work for - for free for one day a week - just to gain some experience. Most organizations are willing to take a chance on someone who shows an interest and is willing to volunteer their services. Once an organizations gets to know you and your work ethic, they are more likely to hire you for a paid job. They can also be a good reference and a good work experience to put on your resume.
Additional Thoughts: I have been doing this work for more than 20 years and I love it because there is always something new about it. It never gets old. It is also not just a people person job. There are many aspects to working in HR, including research and analysis. You can choose to specialize or generalize. There is something for everyone. The downside is that a lot of the problems in an organization often get dumped on its HR staff. Some of these are not easy to resolve. There is a never-ending 'to do' list. You also don't often receive a 'thank you' for what you do. However, there are many rewarding aspects, especially when you are involved in the solving of problems and the improvement of people's lives by contributing to shaping their best work experience and the mission of an organization. The best fit is a job that uses your best strengths and an organization whose mission suits you.
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