How To Get Hired as a Consultant: 7 Steps and Tips
Updated June 24, 2022
Working as a consultant is an attractive career choice for many people. Consultants use their expertise to help organizations improve in various ways. If you're interested in working as a consultant, you may be wondering how to get hired as one. In this article, we discuss the role of a consultant along with how to get hired as a consultant.
What does a consultant do?
A consultant offers expert advice to their clients. These clients are typically businesses or other organizations that seek an outside opinion on how they can improve their operations. For example, a business might hire a project management consultant to help them improve efficiency or a cyber-security consultant to help them better protect their data. Common job responsibilities for a consultant include:
Meet with clients to discuss goals
Spend time analyzing an organization to identify issues
Generate ideas for how to reach the client's goals
Work with the client to implement these ideas
Studying the results of their strategies and making adjustments
Producing documentation outlining new organizational changes
Creating training materials to help employees adapt to new changes
Related: Learn About Being a Consultant
Types of consultants
There are two types of consultants. The first type of consultant works for a consulting firm alongside other consultants. Consulting firms find clients, then assign one of their consultants to the client based on the client's needs and the consultant's background or expertise. In this situation, the consultant commonly earns a yearly salary. They may spend a few weeks to a few months on a particular client before moving to another.
The other type of consultant is a solo practitioner. A solo practitioner works for themselves, promoting their consultant services to businesses that might need them. The benefits of working as a solo practitioner include getting to set your own rates and choosing which clients you work with.
How to get hired as a consultant
Below are seven steps with tips you can follow to get hired as a consultant:
1. Pick a field
Consultants typically have a field of expertise. This allows them to provide expert advice, as they have more familiarity with one field. Before becoming a consultant, it often helps to determine which field you want to enter. To pick a field, think about your interests or what you have knowledge of. For example, if you have worked in cybersecurity before, you may wish to work as a cybersecurity consultant.
2. Develop your skills
If you do not have extensive experience within your chosen industry yet, you may need to spend some time developing your skills. This includes skills directly related to your industry along with general skills used by consultants. For example, if you want to work in supply chain management, you might try working for a manufacturer first. You could also take classes related to entrepreneurship or project management to help you with some of the responsibilities that come with being a consultant. Research the skills commonly in demand for your chosen industry, then develop a plan to improve these skills.
3. Create a resume or portfolio
To obtain a job as a consultant, whether it's for a consulting firm or as a solo practitioner, you will likely need a strong resume or portfolio. A consultant's resume details their past experiences and their related skills. It provides potential employers or clients with a summary of your expertise level and your past accomplishments. In some industries, such as marketing, you may want to create a portfolio that includes samples of your best work.
When creating your consultant resume, focus on specific accomplishments. For example, you could list that your suggestions led to your previous employer improving efficiency by 20 percent. Citing specific results helps potential employers or clients understand exactly what type of results they can expect by hiring you.
4. Earn certifications
In some industries, it helps to have professional certifications. Professional certifications demonstrate a certain level of competency and can help you obtain a position as a consultant. For example, someone looking to work as a project management consultant might earn a Certified Management Consultant certification or a Lean Principles Certificate. Earning a certification not only helps you improve your skills but can also help convince consulting firms or clients to hire you.
5. Make new connections
Networking can help consultants find new clients or bring clients into their consulting firms. Spend time attending networking events related to your chosen industry. You can also use social media applications to interact with others and promote your consulting services.
Related: The Complete Guide To Networking
6. Search for job openings
There are several ways to find a job as a consultant. The first is to look for consulting firms that are hiring new consultants. You can often find these open job listings online. Once hired by a consulting firm, they will assign you to different clients, removing the need for you to find your own clients.
If you plan on working as a solo practitioner, one way to find consulting jobs is by using your professional network. Connect with friends, former coworkers and other acquaintances, informing them of your consulting services. Ask them to recommend you to people in their networks if possible.
7. Prepare for the interview
Whether you find an open position at a consulting firm or a business that wants to hire a consultant, you will likely need to go through an interview process. During this interview, expect the employer to ask questions about your previous experience and skills. Spend time researching questions you might receive during a consultant's interview and preparing possible answers. It's also a good idea to prepare your own questions that you can ask during the interview. As with your resume, use the interview to highlight specific examples of your past successes.
Below are some of the skills commonly used by consultants:
If you work as a solo practitioner consultant, it helps to be proactive. As a solo practitioner, you typically find your own clients. This means promoting your services and networking with other professionals in your industry. Solo practitioners work to develop a strong reputation so that they are always able to find new clients after the completion of one contract.
Organizations commonly bring in consultants to help them find solutions to problems. To find these solutions, consultants use their creative skills. They analyze a situation and brainstorm new ideas to improve upon current operations.
Consultants regularly communicate with professionals all throughout an organization. For example, they may meet with a CEO to discuss long-term goals or a project manager to discuss how to implement some new procedures. Having strong communication skills allows consultants to clearly understand the objectives of their clients and convey their ideas to others. It's helpful for consultants to have strong written communication skills and strong verbal communication skills, as they regularly use them both.
Consultants often oversee large projects. To achieve the desired results of their client, consultants stay organized throughout the process. They are able to manage several aspects of a project at once and stay ahead of their deadlines. Consultants also know how to delegate responsibilities to others and how to prioritize the most important tasks.
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