Consulting is a dynamic and challenging career field that offers many opportunities for people who enjoy problem-solving, strategy, and innovation. Believe it or not, consulting isn’t necessarily a senior-level position. You can pursue a career in consulting as a recent graduate or a mid-career professional looking to switch careers. While pursuing a consulting career can be rewarding and fulfilling, it is challenging to break into because it is so competitive.
However, if you are serious about committing to pursue consulting, we’ve got you covered. From understanding the different types of consulting to creating a career roadmap, we aim to give you a comprehensive guide on how to get into consulting.
What is a Consultant and What Does One Do?
You may be a little on the fence about pursuing a career as a consultant because you’ve heard that consultants have no work-life balance, travel a lot, or experience high-stress levels. Unfortunately, you’re not wrong. However, many consultants thrive in their work environment because they make an impact and their work is purposeful.
As a consultant, you work with various clients to make a positive difference in their company. Business representatives come to you to help them improve specific areas of their business’s performance. You can work with a consultancy company as an employee, work in-house, or become a freelance consultant. Because you are a go-to problem-fixer, you’re always learning, which makes a career in consultancy very rewarding. However, once you begin consulting, your area of expertise is very focused. You can pursue consultancy in operations, strategy, management, finance, and many more areas, making it an excellent foundation for any career path.
Different Types of Consulting
The awesome thing about consulting is that no matter what you’re interested in, there is a consulting job out there for you. Some of the most popular consultancy jobs include:
Financial Advisory Consultancy
Average Salary: $94,170/year
A financial consultant is a type of financial advisor that takes an audit of a company’s financial situation and helps strategize a plan to reach financial goals. A financial consultant could even work with individuals to help them meet personal financial goals. As a financial advisor, you can specialize in key areas such as
- Estate planning
- Business and financial strategy
- Retirement planning
Average Salary: $93,000/year
The primary role of a management consultant is to analyze business performance and find ways to help companies run more efficiently. They often analyze issues around project management, collaboration techniques, management, and company performance.
Average Salary: $82,591/year
IT consultants are specialists when it comes to technology. An IT specialist’s primary responsibility is to provide sound advice to companies and businesses looking to invest in their technological strategies. Because technology is continuously changing, IT consultants should stay up-to-date with tech developments and encourage clients to operate with modern technology.
Operations & Supply-chain Consultancy
Average Salary: $84,983/year
Operations & supply-chain consultants are the perfect people to help companies like Amazon, retail stores, or any companies that build and produce their own products. As supply-chain experts, consultants assist businesses in streamlining logistics and developing strategies for optimizing their operation and supply-chain efficiency.
Average Salary: $85,444/year
HR consultancy is an excellent career for people who have worked in HR management, talent management, recruitment, and related fields. When companies want to invest in their workforce to improve human capital management, HR consultants are who they call. Their primary role is properly analyzing the situation and creating company-specific plans and models to help companies achieve their goals.
Average Salary: $96,569/year
Strategy consultancy is very similar to management consultancy. In fact, most companies will work with both to improve business functions. The primary difference between the two is that strategy consultants advise companies to guide them toward improving specific strategies that help increase revenue.
How to Get Into Consulting
Breaking into a consulting career can be a challenging and competitive process. Still, there are several steps you can take to increase your chances of success.
1. Determine Your Consulting Niche
Because consulting is such a broad field, it’s vital to identify your expertise. Consider your skills, experience, and passions. Then research the different types of consulting in your field to find a good fit.
2. Build Your Consulting Skills
Consulting requires a unique set of soft and technical skills. To even consider becoming a consultant, you must have strong analytical, problem-solving, and communication skills. You must also be well-versed in your industry. So consider taking courses or obtaining certifications in your chosen niche to build expertise and credibility. Please note that in some consultancy sectors, specific certificates are mandatory. So, be sure to do your research.
3. Network with Professionals in the Industry
Depending on where you are in your career, there are different ways to get your foot in the door. As a college graduate or young professional, your best bet is to join professional organizations, do internships, and attend industry events. On the other hand, if you are a mid-level professional, gaining valuable work experience, such as part-time or freelance consulting work or volunteer opportunities, is more important.
But no matter how seasoned you are, it is a must to connect with like-minded individuals. Proper networking will do the work for you. Being connected to the right people will give you insight into how to get into a consultancy career and find job opportunities.
4. Create a Strong Consulting-Specific Resume and Cover Letter
Every career dream starts with a great resume and cover letter. Unless you are considering going solo-dolo as a freelance consultant, you must have a resume that highlights your skills, experience, achievements, and potential. As you apply for jobs with consultancy agencies or companies hiring in-house counsel, customize your resumes and cover letters for each job.
5. Prepare for Situational and Behavioral Interviews
Believe it or not, interviews never stop when you are a consultant. Not only will you have to interview to land a job with an agency, but clients will also be hypercritical when meeting you for the first time. So, staying prepared and ready to prove why you belong is essential.
To do this, always be sure to do your research and sell yourself. If interviewing with a company for a consultant role, research the company, its clients, and its workplace environment. Then talk about how you can make a difference.
If interviewing or being assessed by potential clients, research their past performance. The goal is to demonstrate your consulting skills and experience through examples and showcase your problem-solving skills. Always go into an interview prepared to offer advice (even if you have limited information).
6. Stay Up-to-Date on Industry Trends
Last but not least, consultancy is an ever-evolving field. So, stay informed about the latest trends and developments in your niche. You may have to go above and beyond just following your favorite news outlets on social media. Instead, read industry publications, attend conferences and webinars, and participate in professional development activities.
The Key Qualifications of a Consultant
Consulting is a broad field. Therefore, key qualifications for success may look different depending on your specific niche. However, there are core credentials and skills that employers and clients look for when deciding whether they want to work with you or not.
- Strong analytical skills: Consultants need to be able to analyze complex data, identify trends, and draw conclusions. They should be able to use data to make recommendations to clients.
- Advanced problem-solving skills: Companies use consultants to solve problems that they can’t solve on their own. So, consultants should be able to analyze the root cause of an issue and provide effective solutions.
- Excellent communication skills: Because consultants travel often, strong communication skills are a must. You shouldn’t just be verbally affluent, but you should also possess strong writing skills. Whether in person or in writing, consultants should be able to explain complex concepts in a clear and concise manner.
- Project management skills: Consultants don’t just offer advice and leave. Oftentimes, consulting involves being very hands-on, which means you’ll have to manage multiple projects, set priorities, and ensure deadlines are met.
- Expertise in a certain area: Consultants are often hired for their expertise in a particular industry or niche. They should have deep knowledge of the industry and be able to provide insights and recommendations to clients.
- Advanced degrees or certifications: any consulting firms prefer candidates with advanced degrees or professional certifications in their areas of expertise.
What Does a Consulting Career Look Like?
As a consultant, you’ll face a lot of data and facts, and companies trust you to make the right decision. I mean, you have the success of your clients in the palm of your hand, which feels like a lot of pressure. Due to the high expectations and complex challenges, most consultants pour a lot of time and effort into ensuring they succeed. As a result, they don’t have much of a work-life balance. Additionally, consulting can be very stressful because even though you make many decisions, you won’t have complete control over the projects you work on or solutions the company decides to pursue.
On the other hand, consulting is a high-reward career. As a trade career, consulting requires continuous learning and implementation, so you’ll never get bored with your job. Not only do you get the satisfaction of making a huge impact, but you also receive great pay. Generally, the average Salary for a consultant is anywhere from $60,000 and upward, depending on industry and experience. Additionally, consultants love the fact that they travel and get to experience new places and people often.
Consulting is a highly sought-after career path for those who enjoy problem-solving, strategy, and innovation. While it can be a challenging and competitive field to break into, consulting offers opportunities for individuals from all backgrounds and career stages. As a consultant, you work with clients to make a positive difference in their business and get to specialize in an area of your choosing.
To get into consulting, you must determine your consulting niche, build your consulting skills, network with professionals in the industry, and create a strong consulting-specific resume and cover letter. Overall, if you are serious about pursuing a career in consulting, the hard work and dedication you put in can lead to a rewarding and fulfilling career.