Wondering how to get into consulting? You're in the right place.
Consulting is a lucrative and in-demand profession that's extremely rewarding for those who choose to pursue it. If you've decided you want to get into consulting, the most challenging part can be figuring out how to take those initial steps.
The consulting industry is booming. Companies are always looking to hire external consultants to consult on temporary projects with specific sets of expertise. For this reason, there are countless consulting firms out there. The competition is fierce, so you'll need to know how to find new clients and make yourself stand out.
In this article, we'll share our insights and tips on how to break into consulting. Ready? Let's jump right in.
Consulting can be defined as the business of providing specialist advice or support to businesses and organizations across different industries.
Consultants are professionals that carry out this task. They provide professional advice in various business-related areas such as human resources, marketing, education, etc. Their primary role is to assist businesses with complex problems while aiming to optimize workflows, streamline business operations, and enhance efficiency.
Consulting professionals might operate on a freelance basis, as part of a consulting firm, or they might hold a permanent position within an organization.
If you have a specific set of skills that you think another business could benefit from, you're a great candidate for consultancy.
Below are some key skills and qualities consultants should possess.
By outsourcing consultancy operations to top consulting firms, businesses can access temporary expertise that enables them to reduce overall costs by focusing on the services they need, when they need them.
Instead of spending their budget on permanent consultancy staff or costly technologies, businesses can address specific business problems with consulting firms. Moreover, consulting companies offer unique and diverse skillsets, so there's bound to be a consultant to fit your organization.
There are various types of consulting careers. Here's an overview of the most popular types of consulting services.
Strategy consultants focus on strategic topics like corporate strategy, economic policy, and government regulatory policies.
The role of a management consultant is to help businesses and organizations to solve existing issues, generate value, and maximize growth by improving overall business performance. Management consultants use their particular skills and expertise to advise clients on the best ways to improve their business operations and any skills they're lacking.
You might be familiar with firms like McKinsey, Bain, and the Boston Consulting Group, which are the three big players in management consulting.
Human resources (HR) consultants help clients with issues related to human capital, employee performance, and employee satisfaction. They handle subjects like organizational change management, training and development, employment law, and talent acquisition.
People in this career path focus on the development and implementation of information technology (IT) processes and applications.
This type of consulting addresses questions and issues regarding financial scenarios and functionality within a business. Some sub-categories include real estate, risk management, and forensic research.
Not sure how to get into consulting in the first place? We've broken down the essential steps you'll need to take to break into the industry. Whether you're interested in freelance consulting, or you want to join up with a consulting firm—these five simple steps are a good way to get started.
Some people might choose to pursue a CFA-1 or an MBA in management consulting from a world-class business school to ensure they have the right skills and training to succeed in the consulting industry.
Although holding an MBA or other kind of industry-specific qualification is a definite advantage, it's not the only way to go about landing a consulting job. Many people get into consulting after working in a full-time role for several years, and often firms hire candidates who possess strong skills and experience.
Usually, consulting firms will look for a minimum requirement of a bachelor's degree, and then take into account your consulting experience and areas of expertise.
If you're making a career transition to freelance consulting, you'll want to ensure your resume and cover letter clearly express your industry-specific work experience, qualifications, and skills, along with how you plan to transfer them to a management consultant role.
Consulting is a broad industry. Before you begin exploring consulting opportunities, you should first define the niche you want to work in. Usually, this won't be difficult.
If you're particularly skilled in business management after working in a management position for a while, management consultancy is the obvious choice.
If you're an IT professional looking for a role that offers more responsibility and allows you to demonstrate your skills, consider IT consultancy. Or, if you're a marketing professional looking to transition to a consultancy role, there are plenty of opportunities out there for freelance marketing consultants.
It's important to know exactly where you can fit in and how your specific skills could be of use. As we mentioned before, consultancy is a competitive industry—so you'll need to offer something that makes you stand out from the crowd.
Sure, you might have all the relevant qualifications and skills on paper, but you'll need to offer more than that to land clients in the consulting business. Before sending out your applications, ensure you refine your resume and cover letter.
Your resume should feature the most relevant experiences and skills. It should also depict any school or university qualifications (like an MBA), as well as any other relevant courses or certifications that can tie into consultancy.
Be sure to demonstrate how your skills and abilities directly contributed to workplace success or business growth in previous roles, as this will give the client a clear image of what you're capable of.
Ensure you outline your accomplishments and how they relate to consulting. For instance, if you have worked as an IT professional for the past 10 years, make sure your consulting resume illustrates all of your relevant experience and why you'll be a great fit for the consultant role.
Another great way to impress potential clients is to write a killer cover letter. This is your chance to demonstrate how your experience can benefit that particular client, and why your skills set you apart from any other candidates they might be considering.
If you want to land a job in the consulting industry, you'll need to know how recruitment and interviewing works in the business.
Before you get too ahead of yourself, you should look out for the best places to start finding entry point consulting jobs. Websites like LinkedIn are a great place to start.
LinkedIn not only lists consulting job openings, but it also offers training courses, networking opportunities (more on that next!), and a direct communication path to potential clients. This makes LinkedIn a great place to get started when looking for high-level freelance consultancy opportunities or consulting firms to join.
You'll also need to familiarize yourself with the interview process, including how to handle case interviews when they arise.
A common part of consulting interviews is the case interview. Case interviews involve the client presenting a specific business scenario to the candidate, who must then use their problem-solving skills to propose a solution. The case interview technique is often used by employers hiring for management consulting positions.
The best way to prepare for consulting interviews is to research your niche thoroughly. You can check out online lists of the most common consulting interview questions and practice your answers to better prepare yourself for the real thing.
It's also important to familiarize yourself with the company you're applying to consult for. Understanding their business goals and growth objectives will help you to tailor your expertise to suit their specific needs during interviews.
Networking with other professional consultants can be a great way to discover new job opportunities that could lead to an entry point into consultancy.
In today's digital world, networking has never been easier. There are countless websites, social media platforms, and online groups that you can check out when networking in the consulting world.
As we mentioned before, websites like LinkedIn are a great place to start. You can join groups specific to the consulting industry, or reach out to consulting firms or recruiters directly to see what their recruitment process is like.
Networking enables you to surround yourself with a network of like-minded professionals. This way you can share information and stay up to date with consultancy trends, as well as be the first to know when consulting firms are looking for new candidates.
Moreover, surrounding yourself with a great network of business professionals establishes you as an industry professional, and can make a huge difference when it comes to getting noticed by firms or applying for new roles.
Once you've followed these five simple steps, you'll have a clear path to professional consultancy lined up in front of you. Consulting is a rapidly changing professional environment. You'll need to stay on top of business trends and ensure your skills are always up-to-scratch. It pays to be equipped with the best tools to handle anything a client throws your way—which is where Bonsai comes in.
A key part of flying solo is ensuring the security of your business. That means knowing how to bill for consulting services and creating professional freelance consulting contracts to formalize the relationship, protect yourself, and set your mind at ease. Bonsai can help.
Bonsai offers a range of customizable contract templates to suit any consulting profession. Simply download the template, input your information, and rest assured that your business is secured with a legally binding contract.
That's not all that Bonsai offers though. Bonsai is a unified platform for freelancers that uses smart automation to streamline the complex administrative processes associated with running a freelance business. You can manage all of your freelance business operations from a single platform, so you can spend less time worrying about the formalities and more time developing your consultancy portfolio.
From consulting proposals and agreements to consulting invoices—Bonsai's got you covered every step of the way. The best thing about Bonsai? It's free to get started. Why not sign up today and see how Bonsai can help you to manage your freelance business.
A verbal contract (formally called an oral contract) refers to an agreement between two parties that's made —you guessed it— verbally.
Formal contracts, like those between an employee and an employer, are typically written down. However, some professional transactions take place based on verbally agreed terms.
Freelancers are a good example of this. Often, freelancers will take on projects having agreed on the terms and payment via the phone, or an email. Unfortunately, sometimes clients don't pull through on their agreements, and hardworking freelancers can find themselves out of pocket and wondering whether a legal battle is worth all the hassle.
The main differences between written and oral contracts are that the former is signed and documented, whereas the latter is solely attributed to verbal communication.
Verbal contracts are a bit of a gray area for most people unfamiliar with contract law —which is most of us, right?— due to the fact that there's no physical evidence to support the claims made by the implemented parties.
For any contract (written or verbal) to be binding, there are four major elements which need to be in place. The crucial elements of a contract are as follows:
Therefore, an oral agreement has legal validity if all of these elements are present. However, verbal contracts can be difficult to enforce in a court of law. In the next section, we take a look at how oral agreements hold up in court.
Most business professionals are wary of entering into contracts orally because they can difficult to enforce in the face of the law.
If an oral contract is brought in front of a court of law, there is increased risk of one party (or both!) lying about the initial terms of the agreement. This is problematic for the court, as there's no unbiased way to conclude the case; often, this will result in the case being disregarded. Moreover, it can be difficult to outline contract defects if it's not in writing.
That being said, there are plenty of situations where enforceable contracts do not need to be written or spoken, they're simply implied. For instance, when you buy milk from a store, you give something in exchange for something else and enter into an implied contract, in this case - money is exchanged for goods.
There are some types of contracts which must be in writing.
The Statute of Frauds is a legal statute which states that certain kinds of contracts must be executed in writing and signed by the parties involved. The Statute of Frauds has been adopted in almost all U.S states, and requires a written contract for the following purposes:
Typically, a court of law won't enforce an oral agreement in any of these circumstances under the statute. Instead, a written document is required to make the contract enforceable.
Contract law is generally doesn't favor contracts agreed upon verbally. A verbal agreement is difficult to prove, and can be used by those intent on committing fraud. For that reason, it's always best to put any agreements in writing and ensure all parties have fully understood and consented to signing.
Verbal agreements can be proven with actions in the absence of physical documentation. Any oral promise to provide the sale of goods or perform a service that you agreed to counts as a valid contract. So, when facing a court of law, what evidence can you provide to enforce a verbal agreement?
Unfortunately, without solid proof, it may be difficult to convince a court of the legality of an oral contract. Without witnesses to testify to the oral agreement taking place or other forms of evidence, oral contracts won't stand up in court. Instead, it becomes a matter of "he-said-she-said" - which legal professionals definitely don't have time for!
If you were to enter into a verbal contract, it's recommended to follow up with an email or a letter confirming the offer, the terms of the agreement , and payment conditions. The more you can document the elements of a contract, the better your chances of legally enforcing a oral contract.
Another option is to make a recording of the conversation where the agreement is verbalized. This can be used to support your claims in the absence of a written agreement. However, it's always best to gain the permission of the other involved parties before hitting record.
Fundamentally, most verbal agreements are legally valid as long as they meet all the requirements for a contract. However, if you were to go to court over one party not fulfilling the terms of the contract, proving that the interaction took place can be extremely taxing.
So, ultimately, the question is: written or verbal agreements?
Any good lawyer, contract law firm, or legal professional would advise you to make sure you formalize any professional agreement with a written agreement. Written contracts provide a secure testament to the conditions that were agreed and signed by the two parties involved. If it comes to it, a physical contract is much easier to eviden in legal circumstances.
Freelancers, in particular, should be aware of the extra security that digital contracts may provide. Many people choose to stick to executing contracts verbally because they're not sure how to write a contract, or they think writing out the contract terms is too complicated or requires expensive legal advice. However, this is no longer the case.
Today, we have a world of resources available at our fingertips. The internet is a treasure trove of invaluable information, platforms, and software that simplifies our lives. Creating, signing, and sending contracts has never been easier. What's more, you don't have to rely on a hiring a lawyer to explain all that legal jargon anymore.
There are plenty of tools available online for freelancers to use for guidance when drafting digital contracts. Tools like Bonsai provide a range of customizable, vetted contract templates for all kinds of freelance professionals. No matter what industry you're operating in, Bonsai has a professional template to offer.
A written contract makes the agreement much easier to prove the terms of the agreement in case something were to go awry. The two parties involved can rest assured that they're legal rights are protected, and the terms of the contract are sufficiently documented. Plus, it provides both parties with peace of mind to focus on the tasks at hand.
Bonsai's product suite for freelancers allows users to make contracts from scratch, or using professional templates, and sign them using an online signature maker.
With Bonsai, you can streamline and automate all of the boring back-office tasks that come with being a freelancer. From creating proposals that clients can't say no to, to sealing the deal with a professional contract - Bonsai will revolutionize the way you do business as a freelancer.
Why not secure your business today and sign up for a free trial?