How to become an HR Business Partner 

September 7, 2022
A man working from a laptop on a wooden desk with a cup of team.

What is a Human Resources (HR) Business Partner? 

A HR Business Partner is a professional who provides their expertise and experience to support a business. This is usually a specific business area to partner with its leaders, providing people advice and initiatives to aid and improve business objectives.  

This involves working closely with that business to develop and deliver on HR strategies that help drive performance, growth and support business needs and commercial outcomes.  

Most importantly, a HR Business Partner’s responsibility is to understand the business’s people and communicate effectively with them. A business’s most important asset is mainly their people. 

What skills and qualifications should an HR Business Partner offer? 

One of the great things about working in HR is that you rarely need specific qualifications. They help and are nice to have, but they’re not a necessity to succeed. It will depend on the industry and organisation of course, sometimes to get the initial break you need to have a degree, but that is not always the case.  

Most businesses look for someone who’s had at least three to five years of HR generalist experience, ideally partnering closely with a practice area of specific client group and someone that is used to working closely with senior leaders. 

A qualification with the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD) is often highly desirable, but again – not necessary. 

What soft skills does a successful HR Business Partner need? 

The most important skill an HR Business Partner can have is the ability to manage and communicate with stakeholders effectively. This includes working with all levels of the business.  

Excellent interpersonal skills are favoured for this role – attributes such as empathy, resilience and the ability to push back when needed.  

What industries typically employ HR Business Partners? 

HR Business Partners are employed across all industries, but the businesses that typically employ HRBP’s tend to be on the larger side. These usually have various client groups or sub-brands, just like The SR Group.  

These businesses are also often global with reach all across the UK, EU and Asia-Pacific (APAC) although this is not always the case. 

What’s the difference between an HR Business Partner and an HR Manager? 

Smaller companies with 100-300 employees tend to have an HR Manager rather than an HR Business Partner.  

HR Managers are often more operational, while the HR Business Partner is typically more aligned to the specific service lines to add value from a people perspective. 

What role does HR play in a modern-day business? 

HR plays a crucial role in all industries – and this is constantly growing and evolving and will change depending on business, economic and other internal and external factors. 

To be specific, the HR function gives advice and expertise to a business to support its people and commercial objectives. 

In a broader sense, HR is playing a more critical role in the strategic direction and progressiveness of a business. The function now often has a seat at the table and is involved in shaping and driving major decisions.  

What fieldwork or internships should you have if you want to be an HR Business Partner? 

This really depends on the industry, but a route is to join a reasonably sized HR team that has various verticals of HR to broaden your knowledge and expertise, while working somewhere with strong leadership. This should provide a natural opportunity to learn and progress. 

Why should young people pursue an HR Business Partner career path? 

A career in HR is becoming more respected and more in demand.  

There’s been a shift in the perception of HR over the past few years. It’s a division that was historically known as the ‘enemy’ to a people and employee driven function. Some businesses have even changed the titles of HR teams and professionals to reflect its purpose – such as people, culture or talent.  

The pandemic gave employees the power of freedom when it comes to flexibility and work-life balance, giving HR the opportunity to step forward and prove its true value as a function that has its people at its heart.  

How do I find the right HR role? 

If you’re looking to progress your career, have a look at our HR jobs. You can also contact one of our consultants who can talk you through all of our roles, give you career advice and do all they can to get you your dream role! 

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