Steps for Breaking Into and Succeeding in Consulting

Steps for Succeeding in Consulting

Management consulting is a profession that endures in a slow economy. Why? Because more than ever, companies need consultants to help them increase revenues and cut costs.

Management consulting is also one of the highest paid professions in the United States. A recent survey by the Association of Management Consulting Firms found entry-level consultants earn an average of $58,000 annually while senior partners earn an average of $259,000 (including bonuses and profit sharing). Self-employed consultants may earn $100 to $350 per hour.

Therefore, if you’ve been contemplating breaking into this field, wait no more. (I’m glad I didn’t!) The financial rewards are a real incentive. Other benefits of the job include: intellectual challenge, prestige, opportunities to learn, and high levels of job satisfaction.

Now let’s talk about the two paths of management consulting to consider: working for others and going solo. If you don’t have much experience or are a new graduate, working for others is probably the wisest choice. If you have already gained sufficient professional experience in a specialized field, going solo is a highly feasible option.

Whichever path you choose, here are some tips to break into and succeed in this field.

Develop Your Skills

Management consultants need to be skilled at problem-solving, communication, and management skills such as scheduling and delegating. Other skills and attributes that can help you land a job are basic computer skills, leadership, and an ability to work well under stress.

Educate Yourself

Contrary to popular belief, you don’t need to have a business degree, an MBA or even ANY degree to break into this field. (Having one doesn’t hurt either; in fact you’ll be ahead in the game.) However, you should keep up with current management issues through continuing education or reading business publications.

Know What To Expect From The Job

Familiarize yourself with job titles, specializations (from information technology to organizational development), and the typical consulting job cycle (proposal, brainstorming, data gathering, analysis, and presentation). Even better, learn how to prepare a proposal to get consulting work.

Get Experience

Ways to get management consulting experience include: pro bono work (volunteering to consult for a non-profit organization), an internship, or by becoming a summer associate for a consulting firm.

Decide Where You Want To Work

If your career goal is to work for a consulting firm, decide where you want to focus your job search. Types of employers include multi-national firms (such as Accenture and McKinsey & Company), small “boutique” firms, corporations, non-profit organizations, and government institutions. Each employer has different advantages and disadvantages.

Familiarize Yourself With The Consulting Job Hunt Process

For instance, the interview stage for a consulting position includes personality and resume questions, communication questions and business case questions. You may even be asked to make a presentation.

Considering Starting Your Own Firm

If you have an aptitude for entrepreneurship, preliminary steps to starting a consulting business include conducting market research, deciding whether to incorporate, and setting up your office. You will also need to price your services (and decide whether to charge hourly, daily, per project or on retainer), and attract clients through networking, advertising, or publicity.

Finally, while it is not an absolute necessity, you may want to pursue a professional designation as a certified management consultant to take your career to the next level.

Management consulting is a very lucrative, recession-proof field. In fact, some specialized consulting fields are experiencing a whopping increase of revenue during the current slow economy. So get ready to plunge into this exciting and highly rewarding profession. Just make sure to do your homework properly to ensure success.

Jennie S. Bev is the author of the FabJob Guide: “Become a Management Consultant” and Write Industry Reports: Work at Home and Start Earning $5,000 in Royalties per Month. She is a San Francisco-based professional technical writer, business consultant and instructional designer.

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