Can my skills lead to consultancy?

I have an HR generalist background, but have been working increasingly in HRIS
project management for the past five years. It is a role that I enjoy and I’m
fortunate in being able to handle both the technical and interpersonal sides.
How can I capitalise on this? Should I look for similar roles, move into
working for an HR software supplier, or set myself up as an independent

Doug Knott, senior consultant, Chiumento

You have rightly identified the value of your combination of technical and
interpersonal skills. How you capitalise on this relatively rare combination
depends upon your future career goals and circumstances and what you want from
your next job.

Given that one of the options you are considering is independent
consultancy, a sensible first step might be to work for a well-known HR
software supplier in a project-based consultancy role. This would assist you in
developing the necessary competencies and contacts to set yourself up as an
independent at a later date. It would also test whether you suffer any serious
withdrawal symptoms from a more corporate-type role.

To become an independent now would be a higher risk strategy as you’d be
responsible for sourcing business as well as project delivery. Potential
customers, particularly large organisations, will typically prefer to use a
proven brand name for their HRIS projects.

Suzanne Taylor, consultant, Macmillan Davies Hodes

These are all options which are available to you. However, you need to
consider the aspects of your role that you enjoy aside from the technical
aspects of HRIS. For example, you enjoy the interpersonal aspects of your work,
and this is certainly something that can be hard to find in HRIS specialist
roles. If you were to become an independent consultant, you must not
underestimate the sales element that will be called for, even if you already
have a strong network of contacts.

The alternative of working for an HR software supplier, could mean you lose
the interpersonal aspects of your work. If you have not yet gained sufficient
experience in the field, you may find you would be put on projects just to
deliver results, rather than necessarily to consult with clients.

One thing that jumps out from your question is that you seem happy in your
current role. I would therefore suggest you consider remaining with your
current employer while you are continuing to learn from the role and being
sufficiently challenged by it.

Peter Sell, joint managing director, DMS consultancy

If you were to set up as an independent consultant you’d need to decide what
service you would be providing for your clients. From a technical angle, you
could look at providing consultancy in the specification of systems and
advising on the choice of system. There is a demand for this service, although
finding the clients will involve a lot of research and marketing effort.

Another area you might like to consider could be providing training on HR
systems. This would utilise both your technical experience and your
interpersonal skills. Again, the hard work is in finding the clients.

are a large number of software suppliers and your skills and experience would
be of interest to them. While smaller companies would be looking for selling
experience, larger companies would have a number of implementation roles that
you could take on.

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