Looking for expert advice to help and inspire you in your HR Consulting Business, or looking for guidance and insight as you start your journey into establishing your HR Consulting business? Wherever you are on your consulting journey you are in the right place.

Check out our latest blog content, packed with interesting views, stories, advice, guidance and anecdotes from the UK's Leading Mentor for HR Consultants, Sarah Hamilton-Gill. With over 30 years experience as an HR Consultant, Sarah has much wisdom to share and is reagrded extremely highly in her field.

We hope you find our articles useful. Please do share your views in the comments.

 RSS Feed

Category: Consultant Personal Development & CPD

  1. The Transformative Power of Peer-to-Peer Groups for HR Consultants

    Posted on

    Over my 30 plus year career as an HR Consultant and HR Consultant Mentor, I've witnessed first-hand the dynamic impact that peer-to-peer groups can have on professionals, particularly those of us in the HR consulting field.

    My journey over the years has been enriched, and often transformative, by active participation in various peer and mastermind groups, so I thought in this Newsletter I would share my personal insights into why I feel these groups are invaluable, especially for HR consultants in the UK who are steering their own businesses and who want to grow both personally and professionally.

    The Essence of Peer-to-Peer Groups

    Let’s start with what a peer-to-peer group is!

    Essentially, peer-to-peer groups bring together individuals with similar professional backgrounds or interests to share experiences, challenges, and strategies. These groups provide a platform for learning, growth, and mutual support. Unlike formal training programs, peer groups thrive on shared experiences, leading to practical, real-world solutions and advice.

     You know the saying, “Been there, got the t-shirt!” Being part of a peer group also gives you an opportunity to learn from the wisdom of those who have trodden the path you are on before you, and likewise, for you to impart your own pearls of wisdom and learnings.

     Amplifying Professional Growth

    In my career, peer groups have been instrumental in accelerating my professional development. They have provided a sounding board for ideas, a source of unbiased feedback, and a repository of collective wisdom. By engaging with peers, I've gained insights that have directly impacted my HR consulting and HR training and coaching businesses, making them more effective and client-centric, plus given me the motivation to move forward and step outside of my comfort zone.

    Networking with Purpose

    Networking within these groups goes beyond exchanging business cards. It's about building long-term, meaningful relationships. I've forged connections that have led to collaborations, client referrals, and opportunities that would have been challenging to access otherwise. For independent HR consultants, these networks are invaluable, providing both business opportunities and a support system. Especially so when you are just starting out and everything feels a tad overwhelming and at times, directionless.

    Staying Abreast with Industry Trends

    HR is an ever-evolving field, and staying updated is crucial. Peer groups have been my go-to resource for the latest industry trends, policies, and best practices. Through regular interactions, I've kept my knowledge and skills relevant directly benefiting my consulting business. This can also be said for my own HR training and coaching clients who make up the  peer-to-peer network I have created at Leap into Consulting over the years.  

    Collective Problem-Solving

    One of the most significant advantages of peer-to-peer groups is collective problem-solving. Discussing challenges with individuals who have faced similar situations offers diverse perspectives and innovative solutions. I recall a specific instance where a group discussion provided me with a unique approach to a complex client issue, saving time and enhancing my professional reputation.

    Personal and Professional Support

    Running your own HR consulting business can be isolating. Peer groups offer a sense of community and belonging. They provide emotional support and encouragement, which is particularly valuable during challenging times. The reassurance that comes from others who understand your professional journey is empowering.

     A Platform for Leadership and Influence

    Participating actively in peer groups has honed my leadership skills. Leading discussions, sharing expertise, and providing guidance has not only reinforced my knowledge but has also positioned me as a thought leader in the HR consulting space. This influence extends beyond the group, enhancing my professional stature in the broader industry.

    A Catalyst for Innovation

    Collaborating with peers has spurred innovation in my approach to HR consulting. Exchanging ideas with forward-thinking professionals has inspired me to adopt new methodologies and tools, setting my services apart in a competitive market, especially in the coaching and mentoring space.

    In Summary…

    The value of peer-to-peer groups for HR consultants cannot be overstated. These groups offer a rich tapestry of experiences, insights, and opportunities that can profoundly shape your business and career. They provide a unique blend of professional development, networking, industry insight, and personal support, all crucial for the success and growth of your own HR consulting business.

    As someone deeply invested in the power of these groups, I encourage my fellow HR consultants to explore and engage with peer-to-peer networks. The benefits, as I have experienced, are not just incremental; they are transformative.

    If you’re not sure where to start, join my business growth group for HR Consultants on Facebook and visit my website for details of some of our peer-to-peer training and coaching opportunities.

    Facebook click here

  2. Niche Selection; Carving Out Your Unique HR Consulting Space

    Posted on

    When embarking on your journey into the realm of HR Consulting, it's an exhilarating time filled with boundless opportunities. At this very moment, numerous businesses are actively seeking professionals like you, who possess the skills and experience to address their unique people challenges, optimise talent acquisition strategies, elevate employee engagement, champion diversity and inclusion, refine leadership development, implement HR technology solutions, and expertly navigate the ever-evolving HR landscape with innovative insights.

    However, many HR Consultants inadvertently put themselves at a disadvantage by attempting to become a master of all trades. They often believe that offering a broad spectrum of services will attract a wider client base. Yet, the reality is quite the opposite. Specialisation often paves the way for distinction. Clients are inclined to seek out experts who can precisely address their specific HR needs. Therefore, before you dive headfirst into developing an extensive proposition designed to cater to all facets of HR, I invite you to reassess this phase of your business planning from a different angle - a perspective that revolves around the concept of 'niching.

    You see, carving out your niche as an HR Consultant is not just a strategic move; it's a powerful decision that can profoundly impact your career. In this article I share why this approach can be highly advantageous and discuss how you should approach defining your own niche, so that you can position your business in a way that truly sets you apart, maximises your expertise, lights you up and fulfils you, and ensures your long-term success in the dynamic and thriving world of HR consulting.

    What is a niche?

    I’m sure you know the term, but just in case…

    Rather than a definition copy and pasted from Google, think of it like this…

    Imagine you’re experiencing health issues. Would you prefer to see a general practitioner who knows a little about lots of medical conditions, or a specialist in the particular ailment you're facing who knows a lot about and has dedicated themselves to developing expertise in that area of medicine? The answer is clear right?

    That’s an example of a niche and the same principle applies in HR consulting.

    Why bother to niche? What are the benefits?

    Quite simply, there are so many benefits to niching your HR Consulting offering:


    1. It elevates your credibility, positioning you as an expert in your specialised field. This specialisation reduces competition, enabling you to charge premium rates and cultivate a dedicated client base.
    2. Your in-depth knowledge fosters a deeper understanding of your niche, empowering you to provide tailored, valuable solutions to your clients’ specific HR challenges.
    3. It’s much easier to target your marketing and with a specific focus makes it far easier to connect with prospective clients Additionally your specialisation builds trust and fosters word-of-mouth referrals.


    Ultimately, when you niche, there’s no mistaking who you are, what you offer and where your value lies.

    And there’s an added bonus, as niching goes beyond just business advantages. Working within your niche cultivates personal passion and fulfilment, as well as greater control over your projects, leading to higher job satisfaction. Isn’t this a big reason for leaving your inhouse HR role behind and setting up your own business in the first place?


    So, how do you go about narrowing down and uncovering your niche?

    To uncover your niche in HR consulting, follow these steps.


    1. Begin by reflecting on your passions and interests within HR. Delve into what aspect of HR excites you the most, whether it's talent acquisition, employee engagement, diversity and inclusion, leadership development, or HR technology. Your enthusiasm will be the driving force behind your niche.
    2. Next, assess your expertise by taking stock of your skills and experiences gained throughout your corporate career; these will form the foundation of your niche.
    3. Conduct market research to identify niches in demand, pinpoint areas where businesses are seeking expert guidance, and consider your ideal client to refine your focus.
    4. Before fully committing, validate your niche by seeking feedback from your network, including colleagues, mentors, and potential clients.


    Remember that you don’t need to conquer the entire niche landscape at once; start small, master your initial niche, and strategically expand as your consulting business evolves.

    And that’s it!

    Choosing a niche isn't confining; it's a gateway to professional freedom and success. It allows you to concentrate your efforts, develop profound expertise, and build a recognisable brand.

    As an HR Consultant, clients value specialists who can offer tailored solutions to their specific HR challenges. So, when you contemplate your consulting career, don't merely think about what you can do; contemplate what you can specialise in and become an esteemed authority in your chosen niche.

    It's not just about carving a niche; it's about crafting a remarkable consulting journey that both you and your clients will cherish.
  3. Know Your Value as a Consultant

    Posted on

    ‘Know your value’, that’s the motto I’m leaning on as we have moved into the new year, and one that I’m always trying to make sure my clients understand too. 

    As HR consultants, we bring a lot to the table: knowing exactly what will help you feel more confident in your pitching, as well as help you price more fairly once you’ve found that new client. 

    Here are 10 ways in which a consultant can bring value to a client, versus an in-house HR team, starting with the more personal

    Click here for the full article:

  4. Consultant Continuous Professional Development Framework for People Consultants

    Posted on

    As a consultant you can have all the right qualifications, knowledge, and know-how, but without certain behavioural competencies you’ll likely still find yourself struggling to understand and positively influence your clients.

    I’ve developed a consulting framework based on over 20 years’ experience to guide you through the key competencies you need to be developing and honing in order to make a real impact.

    These are the Consulting Skills & behaviours you need to master, over and above your technical expertise.

     1)    Analysis and Planning

    Analysis and planning work hand-in-hand: without carefully considering relevant information and data, your plans will simply be a stab in the dark. Do your initial research well, and planning becomes more relevant, unambiguous, and constructive.

     2)   Build relationships and collaborations

    Not only will mastering relationships enable you to better understand specific projects, the ability to do so will also lead to future projects and on-going collaborations. A win-win for both your clients and your business.

     3)   Develop Strategic Partnerships

    On-going collaborations are helpful for both you and your client, as they allow greater insight into businesses - resulting in more strategic partnerships. After all, if you work with a client for five years, you’re far more likely to understand not only what makes them tick, but key strategies to help them achieve results.

     4)   Decision making and Problem Solving

    If you deliberate over decisions, clients will - at best - feel that you’re wasting their time (read: money), and at worst, not understand the value of your expertise to their business goals. Timely, informed decisions that account for facts, goals, constraints, and risks showcase your knowledge, ability, and confidence, as well as validate your value to clients.

     5)   Innovation

    Finding creative solutions to problems means embracing innovation. Take a long-standing issue and find a solution for it. Discover a simpler way of working and implement it. Identify an area for improvement, and make it happen. Don’t take things at face value and simply go with the status quo. Innovation is key to making a real, valuable, tangible impact for your clients.

     6)   Drive for Excellence

    No-one wants to give or receive a half-hearted effort so having a drive for excellence is a highly valued behaviour in consulting. This means the ability to identify areas for improvement, but equal desire and passion to make the changes happen via on-going enthusiasm and willingness to encourage the change of systems, workflows, procedures, and more. 

     7)   Effective Communication

     I can’t over-emphasise how important clear communication is as a consultant. You can have the best ideas in the world but, without the ability to effectively communicate them with your clients, they will fall flat. Taking your clients on the journey with you - making sure they understand your thoughts, ideas, and methodology - will help keep them invested.

     8)   Impact and Influence

    In addition to communication skills, we must master the ability to persuade others into following a proposed course of action. You’ve been hired for a reason, and it’s not to follow blindly, but to share your subject knowledge and expertise in order to bring a positive impact. Speak up, using both emotional and rational reasoning.

     9)   Initiative and Ownership

    Coming up with new ideas and solutions takes initiative, seeing changes through takes ownership. There’s no point in one without the other. To act as a responsible and reliable consultant you must take accountability for tasks and actions.

    10)  Emotional Resilience

    Projects don’t always run smoothly; I know I’ve had hiccups on my road to success. If you can acknowledge that setbacks do happen (and that they happen to everyone), take them in your stride, and learn something from them - you’ll be able to remain focussed and determined to complete assignments.

    11)  Flexibility and Adaptability

    Similar to the above, as consultants we need to be flexible. Adapting behaviours, processes and plans as projects - and clients - develop and grow. I would actually argue that changes should happen as we progress through projects, and that if nothing is changing, we should be identifying areas where it can.

     12)  Curiosity

    As Steve Jobs often said: Stay Curious. And it worked out well for him. Curiosity is the key to learning and developing; as consultants we need a micro and a macro approach to this. Micro: learn about your clients, what works for them and what doesn’t. Macro: take the time to learn about your wider industry via white papers, attending conferences, and, well, reading newsletters like this one!

     13)  Self-Confidence

    The key behaviours mentioned above are all well and good, but really amount to nothing if you don’t have the self-confidence to speak up, make a stand, and see your ideas through: from conception to implementation. To achieve a feeling of self-confidence and self-assurance it’s vital that you understand your own abilities and qualities. Thinking of everything you’ve achieved in your career so far is a good starting point.

    14)  Self-Management

    Likewise, without being able to manage your time, priorities, and resources, it will be difficult to get projects off the ground. Invest in project management skills to better understand effective ways of working.

    15)  Professionalism

    Last but not least: professionalism. With all the technical expertise and will in the world, if you don’t conduct yourself with professionalism, you’ll find doors closing around you, not opening. Being professional is simply the way you represent yourself in business and will likely mean something different for all clients. It could be anything from dressing well, turning up to meetings on-time, keeping calm in stressful situations, and being reliable.

    I hope this list has shed some light on important areas for you to assess and develop, in order to help achieve your HR consultancy goals.

    We have developed a 360-degree feedback questionnaire around these behaviours so that you too can get feedback as an independent consultant and for you to continue to develop in the role.

    This also comes with the option of 1 x 1 coaching.

    As always, if you’d like more information about how you can improve in any - or all of them, I have various ways in which I can help.

     -     To start your 360 Feedback:

    -      Buy my book: Leap into HR Consulting

    -    Attend a free Consulting Skills webinar

    -       Join our HR Bootcamps

    -       Contact me today for a Discovery Call

    Until next time, onwards and upwards!


    Sarah Hamilton-Gill FCIPD

    In the past two years, my team and I have supported over 100 new start up consultants. We know what it takes to succeed and have helped many people - just like you - to achieve their goals.