Becoming a consultant doesn’t have to be difficult or time-consuming, and anyone can do it! That’s right! Even you can start a career in consulting , by making your unique experiences and expertise available to others. There are a few different avenues you can take to become a consultant, and a few basic steps to follow that will get you started on your journey to your dream job.
1. Establish Your Expertise
Everyone is an expert at something. Maybe you’ve worked as an architect, manager, travel agent, hair stylist, designer – anything! A degree helps, but even if you don’t have one, you can still become a consultant in a field where you have practical experience. For example, maybe you’re an E-Bay marketing whiz, a great singer, or an entrepreneur. No matter what skills you have, they’re in demand by someone!
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2. Weigh Your Options
There isn’t just one way to become a consultant. Before you can take action, you need to make some serious decisions.
- Do you want to become a consultant on a full-time or part-time basis?
- Can you afford to quit your current job to become a consultant?
- Would you prefer to find a job with an existing consulting firm , or start your own business?
- Do you have the sales skills necessary to “sell yourself” to potential employers or clients ?
3. Build Your Portfolio
Your most important tool in becoming a consultant and convincing someone to hire you is your portfolio. Depending on your field, this can mean a number of things. Some fields lean more to electronic portfolios like Web designers, and some require hard portfolios such as architects. Gather all of your past work samples, and place the best in your portfolio using a presentation method that is suitable for your field.
4. Create Your Written Plan
It’s time to write your resume if you want to become a consultant with a firm, or your business plan if you’re starting your own.
- The Resume – List your experiences in order of relevance to the field. Include your skills for the job.
- The Business Plan – Your plan will be your road map. It should include your research, marketing plan, and financial projections for your consulting firm.
5. Get Things Moving
If you wrote your resume, send it out. While waiting for responses, work on your interview skills. If you completed your business plan, take legal steps to becoming a business. Decide on a business form and a company name. File a DBA (“doing business as”) registration if needed. Contact the IRS to get a Federal EIN (employer identification number). Fill out any state and local forms and get needed licenses. Be sure to check your state’s rules.
6. Sell Yourself
It’s time to market yourself to potential employers or clients. Remember the portfolio you made earlier? Time to break that baby out and put it to work for you! Bring it with you to any interviews you get with consulting firms if you sent out your resume, or to any client meetings you’ve secured if you started your own company. No matter who you’re meeting with, remember, you need to look professional, act courteously, speak coherently, and sell yourself!
If you’ve successfully marketed yourself and your services using the steps above, then you’re on your way to the rewarding career of becoming a consultant. If you still haven’t secured the opportunities you were hoping for, stick with it a little bit longer. Keep pressing for interviews, contacting potential clients, and promoting your work in the best ways possible.
- Make sure you can adjust your portfolio and resume to fit your specific audience. Not all clients and employers want or need to see the same thing.
- Have confidence in yourself! If you’re not sure about your own abilities, you’ll never be able to convince others of them.
- Always continue to educate yourself! You can’t be an expert in any field if you’re not aware of industry changes. Continue your education in school, or simply read trade magazines and join professional organizations.
- If your field calls for it, get any accreditations possible. They’ll add to your legitimacy, and improve client confidence.