When you’re thinking about becoming a finance consultant, there’s a lot to consider—from your lifestyle and career goals to family commitments and work preferences. At the talent firm where I work, Salo, we have a thorough consultant onboarding process that helps consultants know what to expect. But, even after all of that careful preparation, there are still things that surprise new consultants during their first year. Here are three common surprises our first-year consultants report:
1. Marketing yourself is an important part of the job
Most prospective consultants understand they’ll have to spend some time marketing themselves. But, they often underestimate the positive effect time spent on marketing can have on their careers. After all, the more people know about your skills and interests, the more interesting (and plentiful) your engagements will be. As a consultant, there are several ways to promote yourself:
- Mastering the basics: Obvious marketing tactics—such as networking, going to industry events, and keeping your LinkedIn profile updated—are all important. The trick is to keep doing the basics, even when you’re busy working on a client assignment, so you’re always ready for the next project.
- Making an impression at talent firms: When you engage with a talent or staffing firm, make sure the business development team—which connects clients and consultants—knows who you are and what you do best. Set yourself apart by sending a personal email or LinkedIn message to the salespeople to introduce yourself. The more the business development team knows, the easier it is for them to match you to engagements in your sweet spot.
- Winning over the client: Whether you’re talking to a client yourself or working through a BDD, you need to sell your services to client stakeholders. When an engagement opportunity arises, highlighting any past projects, skills, and accolades that are specifically relevant to the client’s project.
2. It’s fun to “do the work” (instead of managing the doers)
Many Salo consultants come from a corporate role where they were the manager or the leader of a team. Consultants, however, are usually hired to use their skills to solve a problem or complete a project. Although there are consulting gigs that include managing a team for a short period of time, it’s not the same as building and nurturing a team over the years.
While there are some new consultants that miss the management position and the impact it has; many consultants are excited to lead in a different way. They can enjoy doing work they love instead of overseeing others’ work. And, they can still be a mentor—contributing to coworkers’ growth—without the stresses of managing personnel and department politics.
3. You get clearer on what’s important to you
It’s no secret that there are trade-offs when you choose consulting over a corporate position—especially when you’re just starting out. However, after a year as a consultant, most people have a good handle of the pros and cons of a consulting career.
More importantly, they have a stronger understanding of what truly matters to them. Some people decide they prefer a corporate role. Others determine that the freedom, flexibility and engaging projects they have as a consultant far outweighs any corporate perks. Either way, most report that consulting has enriched their professional profiles and provided valuable experience.
Do you have any first-year-of-consulting surprises to share?
If you’re a finance consultant with your own first-year surprises, I’d love to hear about them.
Or, are you interested in becoming a finance consultant?
If you’d like to discuss a career as a finance consultant, don’t hesitate to contact Salo to learn more.