Am I Cut Out to Be a Consultant?
A career as a consultant is an option for both school leavers and graduates, with professional services firms and specialist consultancies offering a range of school leaver programmes and graduate schemes in this line of work.
The question is, is a career as a consultant right for you?
Are you cut out to be a consultant?
There are a number of features of the job and specific attributes and skills to consider if you’re considering a consulting career. Take a look at each of these points and see whether you could fit the bill:
How do you feel about being on the road?
Consultants typically have to spend quite a lot of time away from their offices, travelling to visit client sites and often staying in the location of the client’s site for extended periods of time when carrying out assessments and analysis. It could mean some very early starts to the working day if you need to travel somewhere, and you may have to stay away from home for a few weeks at a time in hotels. Does the idea of lots of travel and different locations appeal to you? Or would you rather stick to one spot?
Can you handle criticism?
There will certainly be times when you will advise clients who are going through a tough time. The business could be experiencing financial difficulties for instance: deadlines could be fast approaching, directors will have important, big decisions to make, and individual managers could be under a lot of pressure themselves from the powers that be in head office.
As such, clients can sometimes vent their frustrations on external members of the team, like a consultant. It’s your job as a consultant to understand these frustrations, not take it personally, and help the client as much as you can to resolve the difficulties in the business that are stressing them out in the most amicable way you can.
Want to put in the effort to build relationships?
One way of minimising any tension and difficulties is to get to know the client in a less formal setting too. Making the effort to socialise a little outside of the workplace can do wonders in terms of relationship management in some instances. Are you prepared to put in the extra work as here?
Are you personable and down-to-earth?
When it comes to building relationships in consulting, being the type of person that clients can warm to quickly can be a huge advantage. After all, it’s a little bit awkward that you could be the one to come in and perhaps tell others that what they are doing is all completely wrong! The sooner clients come to trust you, the better. So do you think you can build rapport quickly? Do you enjoy meeting new people on a regular basis? If not, then consulting may not be quite right for you. But check out the huge range of other roles out there in the financial industry! The industry breakdown section is a cracking place to start.
Oh yeah, and how’s your commercial awareness?!
It just keeps on popping up, doesn’t it? Whatever line of consulting you may specialise in, up-to-date commercial awareness is oh, so important. If something’s afoot that could affect a client’s strategy, security or finances, then they need to know about it! So if you aren’t religiously perusing the Financial Times and checking up on business and industry news on a regular basis, then now’s the time to start! Prospective employers want to see that you’re doing this groundwork now.