When planning how to build a professional career, you probably think about securing a permanent role with a company or perhaps launching your own venture. However, consultants are becoming an increasingly common and vital part of the business world.
Therefore, there are a range of exciting opportunities for consultants across a wide range of industries, and these roles are typically prestigious, rewarding, and well-paid.
How do you know if consulting is right for you? Let’s start by taking a closer look at what professional consultants do, before moving on to the advantages of working as a consultant, how to know decide if this is the best career direction for you, and how to take the first steps to become a consultant.
What is a Professional Consultant?
Although the exact role of a professional consultant can vary, they generally offer expert advice to organisations to improve their performance in certain areas, troubleshoot issues, and help them achieve their goals more generally.
Consultants may be employed by a third-party company, or may work as individual contractors with their own clients.
A professional consultant has specific expertise in their field, and thus are able to offer useful advice and insights to their clients. Although they share a common goal — helping their clients improve their outcomes — the type of advice they offer will depend on their area of expertise.
Consulting is an extension of professional services and is based around working with clients, analysing their current structures and strategies, and providing key advice.
Unlike when you work for a company, as a consultant you’ll enjoy more freedom and autonomy, and be able to set your own approach to work and often choose your own schedule. On the other hand, it can be harder to quantify your results and evaluate your performance as a consultant.
5 Signs That You Would Be an Excellent Consultant
Working as a consultant is quite different from working directly for a company. As such, it requires a certain set of skills, as well as a distinct attitude. If you have any of the below skills and attributes, you may be suited to a career in consulting.
Strong Soft Skills
A big part of working as a consultant is interacting with other people, and often involves working with new people on a regular basis. As such, consultants need excellent intuition and negotiation skills. They must also be skilled in building relationships.
As a consultant, your work environment is constantly changing and no two days are the same. Therefore, the ability to adapt to new situations and deal with new challenges is essential.
Communication is at the heart of consultancy. As a consultant, you need exceptional communication skills in order to articulate your ideas and convey your recommendations convincingly.
Another key component of consultancy is assessing the situation, analysing key information, and coming up with effective solutions. If you don’t like to dissect problems and interpret data, then this profession is probably not for you.
Finally, the role of a consultant involves a great deal of research and analysis. The best consultants are naturally curious and seek out opportunities for continuous learning.
Why You Should Consider a Career in Consulting
Consultancy is a growing profession that promises excellent returns. Here are some of the key benefits and advantages of working as a consultant.
Only a handful of career paths provide you with the diverse work experience and training of consulting. As a consultant, you work with leaders, help them solve critical challenges and make crucial decisions about the future of their organisations.
When you work as a consultant, you get the opportunity to interact with people from different spheres of life, including senior business leaders. This can be the opportunity of a lifetime to work with industry leaders and make valuable connections.
High Level of Freedom
Although you may work for a consultancy firm, as a consultant, you’ll enjoy a high level of autonomy. Most consultants have the freedom to choose how they work and how they address issues and approach their projects.
A consultant typically has a more flexible working environment than full-time employees. You may be able to set your own schedule, and tailor your work commitments around your family and personal life.
Every Day is Different
As a consultant, you’ll never have to worry about mundane tasks and monotonous work. You’ll continually be solving new challenges, interacting with new clients, and learning new things.
Take the First Steps to Become a Consultant
If you want to pursue a career in consulting, you’ll need to have specific expertise in your field, as well as exceptional skills in communication, dealing with people, flexibility, curiosity, and problem-solving.