What is it like to work in consulting?

No matter what business you work in, you might have heard of the term “consulting” or been told you could hire a “consultant” to help you fix a problem. But do you know what a consultant is and how it could assist you and your enterprise grow? Or maybe you are still a student in marketing, but you don’t know where to look for a position after graduating, and this counselor at school told you about consulting. But the definition of this field is still blurry for you? In this post, you will find the answers to any questions you might have, so let’s get started.

First of all, what does consulting even mean?

Consulting is the process of assisting in projects without being part of them. A consultant will help their clients by providing expert advice about problems and issues the clients are facing. Consultants give solutions in a wide range of topics and industries.

Now, in what field can you be a consultant?

The services offered by a consulting agency can, depending on the agency and its field of expertise, solve problems related to:

  • HR (and more particularly employee benefit consulting and risk management)
  • IT (e.g., cloud computing)
  • Telecommunications
  • Strategy
  • Operations (e.g., system implementation)
  • Software development (e.g., mobile apps)
  • Management and logistics (e.g., industrial automation, distribution)
  • Database enhancement
  • Environmental and regulatory compliance
  • Business and financial advisory

All these areas can be serving any company. A new pasta brand might need help in one of these branches, so might a prominent association working towards environmental justice, so might a city hall. Consulting can generally be done from a communications, marketing, or advertising agency. Still, you can also find freelance consultants and large consulting firms, such as Deloitte, PwC, KPMG, or others you will find on this list of the biggest consulting firms worldwide.

So, what does a typical day as a consultant look like?

Depending on the project and the role the consultant has on the project, the tasks may vary a lot from one day to another. You might be working on the new business plan on Monday, making calls to find partners on Wednesday, and presenting status updates to the board of directors on Friday. Besides strategic advice and doing specific tasks or services for their clients, a consultant can also run training and coaching sessions, either for the new recruit in their agency, or for the organization that hired their services. You can be sure that a consultant will be making slide decks and tables every day. Indeed, tools like PowerPoint and Excel are the most used softwares for people working in consulting. 

However, the usual required skills to work in consulting are the efficiency of the communication and analysis abilities. One should also be able to work in a fast-paced environment, perfectly organized, and ready to bounce back after an unpredictable course of events. A junior consultant will typically have former experience and/or background in communications, marketing, or advertising.

Why do people even hire consultants?

Put simply, people needing consultants want to go from A to B. They can use a consultant if:

  • They encounter an obstacle on their way to B. In this case, the consultant will solve the problem for them.
  • They do not know how to get to B, they want to get to B faster, or they want a proven way to reach B. In these cases, the consultant will build a plan to help the organization achieve its goal, or adapt an existing plan (whether the organization’s original plan, or a more generic or already used plan that worked for another company) to make it match the organization’s needs, expectations, and means.

What are the benefits of working in consulting?

The benefits of working in consulting are various and depend on the environment you work in, and if you work as a freelance or not, but they include:

  • The diversity of projects and tasks a consultant will be working on during their consulting journey: they step foot in multiple industries, take on different roles, and help organizations achieve unique goals.
  • The opportunity to grow your skills and extend your scope of competence (linked to the diversity of actions) among a team of other professionals.
  • The work environment, providing support and guidance, and in some cases, reassuring, as you know you are never truly alone.
  • The resources (insights and skills) you can keep with you if you change your career path, and maybe if you want to work on your own project.
  • The salary can be pretty high. In the US, the average yearly revenues for a consultant are around $75K (if you are not impressed, keep in mind this is an average salary for an average consulting firm).
  • The chance to try out clients’ new products before everyone else if you work for a company releasing something new.