How to Become a Consultant

Mary Gormandy White
Evan Keene
Evan Keene

Are you interested in learning how to become a consultant? Evan Keene, Hudson's Vice president of Recruiting in the financial consulting industry, shares his expertise with LoveToKnow Jobs readers in this exclusive expert interview. Hudson is a leading recruitment firm, matching consultants and other professionals with companies in need of their services all over the world.

About How to Become a Consultant

Why do some companies opt to work with consultants to perform some tasks rather than hiring staff members?

Companies opt to work with consultants to perform some tasks rather than hiring staff members for a number of reasons. Examples include, but are not limited to:

  • Certain tasks or functions may not require a full-time hire. For example, a company may require technical accounting skills to assist with SEC reporting at quarter or year-end, but they do not have a need for a full-time resource throughout the year.
  • They may have a project with a specific lifespan of a few weeks or months that does not require a full-time hire.
  • They may require a specialized knowledge, skill or experience level to advise them. Examples include a company wanting to implement a specific software package, a business process improvement initiative or requiring expertise to help streamline its supply chain.
  • Believe it or not, companies often utilize outside consultants vs. hiring as they come out of a recessionary period. Employment is known as a lagging indicator, meaning companies are slow to lay off going into a recession and slow to re-hire coming out of a recession. Take a company that laid of 5,000 employees in an effort to cut costs as revenues declined. That company has likely become very cautious, and as revenues begin to rise, they are still slow to re-hire as they await signs that the recovery has definitely taken hold. Yet, the volume of work in production, accounting, IT, marketing . . . virtually every area of the company . . . has increased. Utilizing outside consultants is more flexible, and therefore less risky.

What types of skills are in demand with companies that hire consultants?

Companies utilize consultants in virtually every area. Specific areas with recurring demand include:

What qualities and traits do companies look for when hiring consultants?

Top consultants typically possess the following:

  • Substantial specialized experience in a specific industry, functional area or technology environment (a little grey hair is good for a consultant)
  • Solid credentials (education and certifications) are a plus
  • Strong communication skills - both written and oral
  • Poise and confidence - a good consultant doesn't have to have all the answers, but must know how to find the answer and solve the problem, and have the ability to convey that confidence to a client.

Note that the intangibles are just as important as the tangibles. A good consultant must be able to identify the client's problem, develop a solution and lead the client to the right answer to that problem.

Positives and Negatives of Consulting

What are the benefits of opting for consulting work rather than seeking "permanent" employment?

Consultants typically make more per hour than they would in similar role in industry. They also have a variety of exposure, and don't have to go to the same cube day in and day out. They are exposed to both best and worst practices, constantly adding to their knowledge base and adding to their value as a consultant.

Are there drawbacks associated with consulting? If so, what are they?

Yes. Consulting can be more risky. If you work for a consulting firm, you are at risk if they aren't selling your specific skill-set or if it goes out of demand in the marketplace.

Those who choose to be independent consultants, basically working for themselves, are subject to a "roller-coaster" earnings pattern. When they are selling their services, they are not billing and when they are billing, they are not selling their services. Many people find this to be too stressful.

However, consultants who choose to work with a company like Hudson can avoid this stressful earning pattern. Hudson has a nationwide salesforce made up of individuals who focus locally on a market-by-market basis, eliminating that earnings roller coaster mentioned above for those individuals with the most in-demand skills and abilities.

Finding Consulting Positions

What's the best way for job seekers to find out about consulting opportunities?

Researching for leading consulting firms in one's functional or industry areas of specialization and making direct contact, even if merely submitting to the firm's job board, is likely the best way to find the right firm. Additionally, most consulting firms utilize the same methods, such as job boards, posting to their own websites, etc., as any other prospective employee.

How can working with a company like Hudson benefit people who want to find consulting opportunities?

Hudson has a "Consultant Care Program" through which we strive to make individual field consultants feel part of the larger organization. Hudson recruiters also keep candidates up to date on industry trends and job searching skills through direct contact and other mediums such as Hudson's ITHireWire blog.

Also, as previously mentioned, Hudson has a nationwide sales force made up of individuals who focus locally on a market-by-market basis, eliminating that earnings roller coaster mentioned above for those individuals with the most in-demand skills and abilities. To learn more about Hudson's consultant jobs please visit jobs.hudson.com.

LoveToKnow Jobs would like to thank Evan Keene from taking time from his busy schedule to share his knowledge with readers in need of information about how to become a consultant.

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How to Become a Consultant