HR consultant

For the recruitment industry to be effective, potential staff need to be available in the first place, this is where a HR consultant comes in. As an HR or personnel consultant, you'll usually work for a recruitment agency helping employers find suitable staff and job seekers find suitable jobs.

A major role in the HR sector, if this role didn't exist,  companies wouldn't have many employees.

So, what will I actually be doing?

Your job is likely to involve:

  • 'Cold calling' companies to generate new business
  • Getting vacancy details from employers
  • Interviewing and testing job seekers 
  • Matching candidates to jobs to build a pool of potential applicants
  • Screening and shortlisting candidates for employers to interview
  • Building relationships with employers and job seekers
  • Meeting targets for vacancies filled and people placed
  • Keeping records and negotiating fees

Headhunting may be a particular speciality, finding candidates for executive and specialist positions. You could be working for various kinds of employment agency, dealing with either permanent or temporary work at all levels, and for many industry sectors.

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The finer details...

You'll usually work between 9am and 6pm, Monday to Friday. However, you may need to work later in the evening or on Saturday mornings, depending on your agency's opening hours.

You'll be mainly office-based, but will also spend some of your time visiting employers.

If you work for a large, well-structured company you could move into a business development role or be promoted to team leader or branch manager once you gain experience. You could also choose to set up your own agency.

Money, money, money

These figures are a guideline only. Usually, you'll earn a basic salary plus commission.

  • Starting salaries are usually between £15,000 and £18,000 a year, plus commission
  • In a more senior role, this can rise to between £20,000 and £40,000, plus commission

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Is there study involved?

You do not need specific qualifications. Although employers will expect a good standard of education, your skills and attitude are more important than your academic qualifications.

You may need relevant experience and qualifications for an agency specialising in a particular industry such as ITengineering or nursing. Agencies that deal with high-level executive jobs may also prefer you to be a graduate, although this is not always essential.

Once you're working for an agency, you will usually develop your skills on the job. However, large agencies often run their own structured in-house training programmes as well.

Your training may include working towards qualifications from the Recruitment and Employment Confederation (REC) and/or the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD).

Qualifications available from the REC are:

  • Certificate in Recruitment Practice - aimed at people new to the recruitment industry
  • Diploma in Recruitment Practice - usually for recruitment consultants with at least a year's experience
  • Foundation Degree and BA (Hons) degree in Recruitment Practice

You can study for all of these qualifications by distance learning. The Certificate is also available by short fast-track courses at study centres around the UK.

CIPD qualifications include Level 3 Certificate in Recruitment and Selection and NVQ Level 3 in Recruitment. Both bodies also offer a range of short courses to help you with your professional development throughout your career.

OK, I'm interested... But is it really the job for me?

To be a successful HR consultant you'll need:

  • 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

Your telephone and sales skills are all important, so experience in customer servicesales or marketing would also come in very handy.


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