Why Consulting? The Pros and Cons of a Consultant’s Career
Cooperation with the top-level CEOs? A high salary with sweet bonuses? Freedom to always speak your mind without sugarcoating the truth because your boss won’t like the sound of it?
If these traits sound attractive to you, you might just be into a career in consulting!
On a more serious note, however, it’s not all fun and games. Yes, there are nice bright sides to the job, but don’t just go thinking it’ll be a walk in the park. Because it won’t. This job requires a lot of hard work, determination, and sacrifice.
As your title clearly states, you are hired to consult others in your area of expertise and solve their complex problems. However, unlike in most professions, the client will not be your usual boss figure to you. While it is them who hired you to help out, you are fully expected to take the initiative and suggest anything that needs to be done.
The boss might not like it, it may at times sound like you are questioning their methods (which you often will be), but your mission is clear – solve the problem and improve their business.
So if you’re not the one for your usual type of work where your boss might be on your back all the time, telling you what to do and how to do it, you may want to check the importance of consultancy and what consulting has to offer.
Perks of the Job
Since we’re the kind of people that like our dessert first, and the veggies later – we’re gonna start from the bright side of this business, and scare you with the negatives later.
This is not your usual nine-to-five office job. Not even close. Be prepared for a life on the move, rushing to meetings, traveling from city to city, catching your surprise lunch in a 20-minute timeframe that just popped up because you finished your meeting 20 minutes earlier than expected.
You will constantly be in touch with your clients, working on their cases and meeting up with them for feedback, and as soon as you leave the meeting room with them – you’re on the phone with your project lead, discussing the aforementioned feedback and analyzing your next step.
There is no strict rule on this, but your Mondays and Tuesdays tend to be more chaotic than your average Friday. The start of the week is mostly all piled-up and tense, and as you get your work done during the week, you can often afford to give yourself a more relaxed Friday and get a night off before the weekend.
It’s Well Paid
We’re not gonna go kidding ourselves with “money doesn’t matter” or similar philosophical quotes. It’s a job, after all. You do it to earn a living and to pay your bills and expenses just like all of us, so it’s only fair to expect to get rewarded for the amount of time and effort you put in. Time is money, after all. There we go with the quotes again…
Salaries will vary depending on multiple factors. They depend on your work location (the state, or the city), your area of expertise (marketing, technology, investment, sales, business, etc.), and your experience in your job position.
When applying for a job, generally check what the average consultant salaries are in the area that you’re looking into. In some cities (London, for example) the salaries tend to be pretty low when you compare them with your living costs.
So you might be better off working for a salary that’s a bit lower, but also with living costs that are far lower than what London has to offer. This is not a jab at London, we’ve just used it to portrait the bigger picture, as the British capital is known to be pretty expensive to live in.
As far as the area of expertise goes, it may not always be so, but some areas tend to be more profitable than others. For instance, financial and management consultants tend to have a bit of an edge in terms of salaries in comparison to, let’s say marketing and HR consultants.
But the biggest factor will usually be your own experience. If you’re in the job long enough and have proven yourself many times over, the companies are gonna do what they have to to keep you. Should that happen, you’re likely to see yourself sitting comfortably as a Senior Consultant, overseeing a team of other consultants, making upwards of $100k a year. Doesn’t sound too bad a reward for all that extra effort, doesn’t it?
Developing Useful Traits
This branch of business asks a lot from a person. While this is at times very demanding and might seem exhausting, it will certainly affect you as a person and teach you a lot.
Given the hectic schedule that you’ll be experiencing every day, it’s safe to assume that you’ll learn to discipline yourself, be time-efficient and organized. You will learn to value your own time, as well as that of others, and will develop a working habit.
You’ll be dealing with people all the time. Lots of people. Some very nice, some not that nice. But no matter their personality, you will need to learn how to handle them and get the work done.
The main course of your job. At first, this is pretty much work-related, but as time goes by, and you adapt to the most complex of cases and find solutions while being limited by certain guidelines, you will learn to look at things from a completely different perspective. This will make you an expert problem-solver, and that is always a useful trait to have in life, personal and professional.
Whether you’re dealing with big fish or small ones, with hundreds or millions, you will always have to operate within certain budget constraints. This is the perfect platform to give your financial skills a lift-off. You will learn what things are worth paying top dollar for, and where you can trim the fat and save a few. Learning all the tricks of the trade will not only have a good effect on a professional level but on a personal one as well.
Dark Side of the Job
We’re not gonna lie, it’s a demanding type of work. If you’re a social person, with a lot of friends and activities, you’re likely gonna have to cut down on some of them. This goes especially for your starting period when things will get hectic for you as you try to adapt to your new lifestyle.
Learning to balance your work with your personal life is something you’ll improve as years go by and as you become more relaxed with your job. It will be easier for you to estimate how much time which task will take, hence making you able to catch up with some friends or family without jeopardizing your work.
To Sum it All Up
Being a successful consultant can be quite rewarding, but it does require certain personality traits to endure. Some people will find it too demanding and feel exhausted, while others will thrive in that type of atmosphere. It all depends on what kind of person you are, and what kind of person you wanna be.
If you think you got what it takes – give it a go. All we can do is hope that this has been a good read for you and has helped you realize whether you are cut out for consulting or not. Best of luck in any case!