If you’ve ever hired for HR, you probably thought to yourself, “There seem to be more bad HR consultants than good ones.”
True, it can be a little difficult to find the right human resources consultant.
As your company grows, you’ll most likely find new challenges when it comes to both the capacity and capabilities of your internal HR team. Many business owners don’t realize that properly managing human resources is a full-time job and commitment, and that as more and more employees are brought onto the team, the more compensation, benefits, and company culture has to be taken care of in the correct ways. It comes down to a successful, thriving company needing a human resources manager with the expertise and knowledge to perform these tasks.
Finding and hiring an HR consultant (or firm) is a significant decision and investment for your company—and not just in terms of money. The right consultant will provide your business with greater effectiveness and efficiencies. By treating your employees the way they should be treated and ensuring that everything is going smoothly when it comes to payment, mediation, hiring, overseeing, and benefits, your workers will do better jobs and have higher morale.
So, what do you look for when it comes to hiring human resources personnel?
First, figure out what your company needs regarding this role. Are you looking for someone with experience in recruiting? Do you want someone who’s had success forming a strong company culture? Or maybe you just want someone who happens to be excellent with defining benefits and managing compliance.
Whatever it is you feel your company needs the most of, search that out when hiring for human resources. First, sit down and develop a detailed job description. This will help both you and the potential HR consultant understand the most important functions that need to be covered on the job.
The best things to look for in an HR consultant or firm are:
A mind for knowing the latest market trends and best practices. Your ideal human resources employee should be well educated and connected on the current developments within their area of expertise. They should know what does and does not work for companies like yours, and they should utilize multiple networks, publications, and forums to keep up on what’s going on in the market. Beware of consultants who are “highly experienced” in a bad way…meaning, they’ve been in the business for so long that they are no longer up-to-date on current trends and practices. They will be using solutions that are already outdated and will not work within your company. Make sure anyone with decades of experience also has decades of keeping up with the latest software, best practices, and industry compliance.
An understanding of your employees’ mentality and workflow. It’s crucial that the HR consultant you bring on understands the corporate dynamics your team deals with on a daily basis, as well as the pressures of the world they work in.
Good references—and you should contact those references. Make sure that they provide you with the complete picture of the HR consultant’s work and their project results.
A strong track record of success as an HR consultant. Ask your candidate, “What similar projects have you worked on previous to this one? Why did you want to become an HR consultant? Have you ever been unsuccessful in an HR project of this scale?”
Trust, integrity, and confidentiality. This should be a no-brainer, but trust and integrity are the foundational values of a good HR consultant. You’re hiring a person to be honest and tell you the truth about a specific aspect of your company, as well as keep any sensitive company info to themselves. If you can’t trust them, you don’t need to be working with them.
Commitment to your company and project. How many other projects does this candidate have going on? It’s important that if they have other clients, they won’t be taking on too much and be spread too thin, and end up neglecting your company. Make sure to set expectations in the beginning with your HR candidate regarding their timelines and schedule. It’s a good idea to ask how many other projects they have on average.
Someone who’s ready with a project plan. When hiring for HR, it’s critical that your candidate has a project plan, because this is the foundation to any successful project for a company. A project plan not only defines the scope and steps to deliver the project, but also provides a breakdown to the stakeholders on the key project milestones, how to minimize the risk with the project while recognizing the importance of delivering on time, communication touch points, and project updates. Basically, the project plan is the blueprint and agreement between the HR consultant and your company, the deliverables, and the cost.
A human resources employee typically focuses their expertise in one specific area of HR, not all areas. Each consultant has their core niche: labor, rewards, benefits, company culture, and so on. This is why it’s a good idea to hire an entire HR team if you have a larger company or body of employees. Be sure to ask in the interview process things like, “What area of HR is your core expertise in? What makes you an expert in this area? What do you recommend I do if I need expertise in another area of HR for this project?” Beware if an individual HR consulting candidate claims to be an expert in all areas of HR. That usually means they’re not an expert in any.
Hopefully these tips will help you find the perfect fit when hiring human resources personnel. Remember, with the right consultant or firm, your company can soar.