10 Characteristics to Become an Exceptional HR Consultant



You will find success as a human resources consultant, if you develop specific qualities for trust in your profession.

Not to oversimplify, you need to be proficient with a strong mental discipline, thought leadership in contemporary HR knowledge, the ability to manage clients and skills in business development.

Strong mental discipline is required because the patterns of work are asymmetrical and income can be irregular.

free stock photo Discuss, Smile, Concentrate, Blond

You need to be up-to-date in trends of human resources to provide the best-possible information and client service.

Understand that human capital is typically the most-difficult problem for CEOs. You will encounter CEOS with different personalities. Many have emotional ups and downs. Therefore, skills to effectively manage client relationships are critical.

And for a sustainable income, you must be great in reputation management, networking and other skills of business development.

More specifically, here are the necessary simultaneous and inter-related characteristics:

1. Mental toughness

You need confidence – the ability to accept challenges while maintaining self-control and your commitments to clients and your practice.

You will face obstacles to overcome for your clients and for your practice.

Outstanding consultants have a psychological edge to consistently cope and maintain focus while under pressure.

2. Professionalism

True consultants know their client relationships must stay at a professional level. New consultants must learn not to let clients treat them as employees. Nor should consultants voluntarily adopt an employee attitude.

It’s important to clarify your clients’ expectations, commitments, and deliverables in order to meet objectives. You must understand your clients’ responsibilities, too.

If they don’t adhere to the agreed upon terms, you can’t do your work effectively. You must be prepared to move on.

And as a professional you must also hold yourself to the highest standards of confidentiality, ethics and integrity.

3. Value your clients

You must love your clients and fully invest in their success.

Conversely, if you find relationships are untenable, which is usually the case when clients don’t comply with agreements, walk away.

4. Judgment

HR is a constant series of problems. Sophisticated judgment requires the study of facts, and not jumping to conclusions, before making decisions or recommendations.

“To be trusted is a greater compliment than being loved.”

5. Organizational skills

Consultants have to juggle tasks, determine priorities, work long hours, and be flexible – all while delivering strong results in the face of deadlines — and often without support.

6. Communication abilities

You must have outstanding verbal and written skills with diplomacy. Above all, this means communicating opinions effectively.

7. Expert knowledge

Consultants are most-often hired by clients for their expertise and to save time in implementing projects and to provide solutions.

So consultants must be authoritative in applying theory into practice. This means consultants must persist in staying current and relevant.

Reading informative Web sites, journals and other publications are of vital importance as well as communicating with fellow consultants and other experts.

On the other hand, you must be pragmatic about knowledge. Not to be critical about academics, but all too often what works in textbooks isn’t applicable in the real world.

So understand theoretical frameworks, but make certain they’ll lead to actual solutions for your clients.

8. Listening skills

As a consultant, you will encounter all types of personalities. You will meet with garrulous, reserved and uncommunicative people.

Successful consultants have the ability to listen, and to encourage clients and their employees to talk without restrictions.

9. Business acumen

Naturally, you must be businesslike. That means understanding profit and loss, insurance, tax knowledge, and how to operate legally.

10. Business development

Don’t make the mistake of throwing yourself into your work without engaging in business development each day. You must continue to market your practice each day.

From the Coach’s Corner, editor’s picks for consultants:

Valuable Secrets for Profitable Deal-Making with Clients — If you’re in professional services or you’re a consultant, many times you’ve heard the phrase: “Give me a proposal.” Here’s a better way to respond. You can be more successful with clients using deal memos. Here’s how.

Performance Gap Solutions for Consultants in Income and Image — If there’s a disparity between your income goals and your current financial situation, it would appear that you have a performance-gap issue.

Consultants – 5 Strategies to Build Trust with Clients — The five strategies that enhance relationships between consultants and clients.

Tips for Building Long-Term Client Relationships with Effective Meetings — Signs you have good client relationships: They’ll thank you regularly, pay your invoices promptly, and will respond well to your recommendations. If you don’t have all three of these, here’s what to do.

Consulting: Effective Management of Difficult Clients — Start with this premise: You should be focused on the continuous, improvement and performance of your firm. If you have difficult clients, here’s what you can do about it.

“To be trusted is a greater compliment than being loved.”

– George MacDonald


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Author Terry Corbell has written innumerable online business-enhancement articles, and is a business-performance consultant and profit professional. Click here to see his management services. For a complimentary chat about your business situation or to schedule him as a speaker, consultant or author, please contact Terry.






Seattle business consultant Terry Corbell provides high-performance management services and strategies.