Management consulting is a great option for people who are truly passionate about business and want to help organisations reach their objectives. It is a very exciting job where you can enjoy the security of working for a firm or the autonomy of working as your own person. It is a rather competitive field, however, and it’s not for everyone. You’ll first need to put in the work necessary to get your credentials and be ready for the challenges new consultants with limited experience have to face. Here’s how you can become a management consultant in five steps.
Learn the Skills Needed
The first thing you have to do before you think of entering the management consulting field is look at yourself and see if you have the skills needed to be a consultant in the first place. One of the most important skills for a management consultant is creative thinking. Anyone can give generic management advice, and this is not what businesses hire consultants for. They are looking for people who can come up with creative ways to solve their problems. You may have to find more effective ways to complete tasks or solutions for problems you or the company you’re working with has never faced before. This demands a certain level of creative and mental flexibility that only a few people possess.
Consultants need great communication skills and great people skills in general. They also need to be able to explain complex subjects to complete laymen. Patience will be very important too as you may have to repeat certain concepts again and again until the people you work with understand them. All great consultants have great organisation skills as well and are great at multitasking. They also have good leadership skills. This is what allows them to direct discussions and command the attention of large groups of people.
Get Your Credentials
If you feel like you have what it takes to become a consultant, then you can start looking at how you can get your credentials and which credentials you could get. At the very least, you will need a bachelor’s degree for employers to consider you, but you may need to get a more advanced degree because of how competitive the field is. You’ll be much more respected in the field if you get something like a master’s in management and your CV is more likely to get moved to the top of the pile. It would also help if you got a specialised masters in a field that either interests you, you have previous expertise in, or that has great prospects for the future.
If you’d like to work with eCommerce businesses or businesses who want to move their processes to a digital space, then you could look at something like a management in digital economy master’s degree. You could get an MSc Management in a Digital Economy from an institution like Aston University and have a unique skillset that will allow you to help businesses solve new problems they are facing. Lots of businesses will need consultants that can help them modernise their processes and not many people will have the expertise needed to do it, so having a specialisation like this will make you highly employable.
You can always go for a more traditional consultant category if you don’t feel like management consulting is for you, however. You could become a strategy consultant and develop or assist in developing strategies for various organisations. You could also become a financial consultant and help organisations deal with money management and cash flow issues, or work as an operation assistant and directly help improve a company’s processes. The number of options is huge so we suggest that you look at them in detail and see if there’s a field that would be a good fit for you.
Consider Getting Additional Certification
Getting a degree is nice, but the more verifiable qualifications you have, the more sought after you’ll be in this industry. So, we suggest that you start looking at additional certifications once you get your official credentials. This will help demonstrate that you have the skills needed to be a good consultant. If you’re looking for a good certification, you should consider joining the Institute of Consulting. They provide various certifications and tons of services for new consultants trying to break into the industry, so check out what they have to offer.
Credentials are only one part of becoming a consultant and experience will often trump credentials in that field. So, you will have to find a way to get as much experience as you can fast so you can get to higher-level positions. Most consulting companies will require that you have at least two years of working experience under your belt, so be prepared for that. You can start getting experience by working a part-time job while you’re studying. You can also look at fellowship or internship possibilities.
These opportunities will help you to not only build the expertise needed to be a good consultant but also start building a professional network. You might come across people who will help you get a position later or vouch for you if you need a referral. Perform to the best of your abilities and make sure that you don’t burn bridges with a bad attitude or work ethic.
Find a Job
Now that you have everything it takes to be an actual consultant, you can start hunting for positions. You can always go directly to consulting firms and try to get hired, but you may have a better chance if you work with a recruitment agency. You should also know that consulting firms often hire people through internships, so seeking internships with firms you’d like to work with is a good strategy to get hired. If you perform well, then you have to be ready to go through a series of interviews where you’ll need to demonstrate your skillset and how you can add value to the company.
If you can’t get a job through interviews, you will need to get active and start attending events and presentations hosted by various firms. This could give you a chance to get noticed and rub shoulders with potential employers.
This is all you need to do if you want to become a management consultant. Make sure that you are ready for the long road that lays ahead and always add more feathers to your cap if you want to truly stand out in this industry.