How to Become an HR Advisor
Improving your skills and knowledge is the most effective way to move up the career ladder, particularly when it comes the human resources field. Here are some of the most useful strategies to consider when it comes to developing your career in HR.
When you’ve been working in an entry-level role like HR Administrator or HR Assistant for a couple of years, you’re likely to start thinking about taking the next step in your career.
The good news is that the human resources field usually has a lot of good career opportunities available — as long as you have the drive and commitment to aim for them.
For many, the most logical position to aim for if you’re looking for your first mid-level HR role is an HR Advisor — one step above entry-level, but one below senior-level.
To do that though, you’re going to need to know what an HR Advisor’s duties are, what qualifications and experience you’ll need, and what employers will be looking for.
So, to help you leapfrog the competition, we’ve come up with a useful overview of the role. Here’s our guide on how to become an HR Advisor.
What does an HR Advisor do?
If you’re new to HR, it can be easy to get confused between the roles of the HR Administrator and the HR Advisor, but there’s a big difference between the two.
An HR Administrator is largely responsible for dealing with the administrative and operational aspects of human resources. You’ll probably organise interviews (booking rooms and arranging interview slots), process job offers and contracts, and provide logistical support in employee grievance and disciplinary meetings.
A HR Advisor, on the other hand, takes a strategic approach to HR rather than focusing on basic operational processes. You could be responsible for conducting interviews; for developing employee recruitment, retention, and development strategies; and for writing and reviewing company policies. You’ll usually be the first point of contact for line managers and employees seeking HR advice, too.
Put simply, HR Administrator is an entry-level role, and HR Advisor in a mid-level role.
A typical HR Advisor job description
An HR Advisor job description will usually look something like this:
- Advise line managers on the recruitment process
- Review, edit and write job descriptions for employee roles
- Improve policies and processes, and create new ones
- Provide a point of contact for line managers, employees and stakeholders seeking advice
- Organise, plan and implement employee development strategies and training
- Manage employee relations
- Provide advice on employment legislation, policies and procedures
- Develop employee performance evaluation methods
In most organisations, you’ll report directly to the HR Manager. You’ll have some autonomy, but departmental strategy and priorities are normally set by the Head of HR and then implemented by the HR Manager and yourself.
In a smaller organisation, it’s also possible that you could have responsibility for the entire HR function.
You’ll usually find that this is an office-based role, but some employers might give you the option to work flexibly, or from home.
How much does an HR Advisor earn?
According to the Hays Salary Guide, the average UK salary for a HR Advisor in the private sector is around £29,500. For HR Advisors working in the public sector, the average salary is around £30,000.
The specific salary that you’ll earn will depend on where you are in the UK, with the pay varying from region to region. You can see regional HR salary information in our UK HR Salary Map.
It will also depend on the specific company that you’re working for and your own personal experience and negotiating skills.
What qualifications does an HR Advisor need?
HR Advisor is an experienced mid-level role. Employers will normally expect you to have a mixture of formal qualifications and relevant work experience. As a result, investing in professional qualifications like an HR degree or CIPD qualification is a must.
A CIPD Level 5 Intermediate qualification in HR Management will give you a comprehensive grounding in the skills and strategies that you’ll need to excel as an HR Advisor.
If you’ve got the ambition to progress to a more senior roles like HR Business Partner, Senior HR Advisor or Director of HR, a postgraduate-level CIPD Level 7 Advanced qualification in HR Management will help you stand out from the competition.
It’s also useful to show employers how you’ve been able to develop your HR skills, in and outside of a work context, when you’re applying for roles like this. The easiest way to do that is to add any relevant training, events you’ve attended or other personal development to your CV.
What experience does an HR Advisor need?
Most HR Advisors have usually worked within the HR sector for a few years in an entry-level position like an HR Administrator or HR Assistant.
In general, most HR Advisors have between two to five years’ experience of working in the human resources sector. To be in with the best chance though, you’ll normally need at least three years’ experience to be considered experienced enough to work in this type of role — unless you can demonstrate exceptional skills and knowledge.
In some cases, employers might consider newcomers to HR for an HR Advisor role. This can be the case where a candidate has a CIPD qualification, HR degree, and/or relevant management experience.
However, you’ll likely need to show you have some experience of performing HR duties, like employee administration, providing support during grievance and disciplinary meetings or helping with job evaluations, for instance.
The HR Advisor interview process
You’ll normally face a standard interview process, but this depends on how competitive the role is. Generally, the more candidates there are going for a role, the more interviews you’re likely to have to get through to be hired.
The usual format will be two in-person interviews. Sometimes, you have might have a screening interview or a telephone interview beforehand.
The first in-person interview will usually assess whether you have the right skills and experience to do the role. Often, this will be a competency-based interview where each question asked targets a specific skill or competency. Based on the interviews, preferred candidates will be selected and invited for a second in-person interview.
In most cases, the second interview is used by employers to drill down into specifics about your past work history and experience. The employer will use it to find out if you’re a good match for the culture of the company too. Following this interview, the employer will be in a better place to decide which candidate they want.
In rare cases, you might have to face a third interview.
What skills does an HR Advisor need?
Having good communication skills is essential to anyone in HR, but especially so for HR Advisors.
The HR Advisor role will require you to communicate with a range of people across and outside the business, from line-managers and employees through to external stakeholders and suppliers — often under pressure.
Being able to communicate well in writing is really important, too.
You’ll need a high level of emotional intelligence to be a good HR Advisor, so developing your empathy skills is a really good idea.
You’ll likely have to deal with emotionally demanding subjects, distressing situations and upset employees, and you’ll need to develop the capacity to respond appropriately.
Empathy will also help you build relationships with other people – something which is key to the HR Advisor role.
HR Advisors will often be responsible for juggling multiple responsibilities and projects, so you’ll need to have good multi-tasking skills. You’ll also need to have good prioritisation, time-management and time-keeping skills.
Proven work experience
Work experience in an HR or management setting is generally required for an HR Advisor job. As this is a mid-level role, most applicants already have experience of working in HR.
Employment law knowledge
You’ll naturally need to be familiar with the employment law of the country you’re working in. Whilst you won’t be expected to recite statutes, knowing the relevant legislation and where to look is vital, and it can really help you to prove you’ve got the specialist knowledge to succeed.
If you need to brush up on your employment law knowledge, a CIPD Level 5 qualification can be a good place to start.
Logic and critical thinking
The ability to think logically and give well-reasoned advice is another essential trait in an HR Advisor. You’ll need to have good common sense, along with the ability to think impartially about a situation, using evidence to come to conclusions and make decisions.
What roles can HR Advisors be promoted to?
HR Advisors have huge potential for career progression. Roles that they can move on to include:
- HR Manager
- HR Business Partner
You could also specialise in one particular area of human resources. There are plenty to choose from, like employee relations, organisational development, employee engagement, recruitment, and equality and diversity.
HR Advisors whose role involves more advanced responsibilities could also move into senior positions:
- HR Consultant
- Head of HR
- HR Director
- Head of People and Culture
Equipped with this information, we hope you feel confident enough to take the next step on your career journey.
Want to begin or progress in your HR career? Enrol on an online CIPD qualification today and get the skills you need to become an HR Advisor.