Frequently Asked Questions about Consulting


 Frequently Asked Questions about Consulting

What are the benefits of consulting?
Consulting provides the opportunity to work with companies in a way that is unfamiliar or inaccessible via other positions. Consulting can provide a more well-rounded perspective for clients than internal positions would provide, and it often serves as an introduction to industries or corporate cultures where employees might not otherwise get exposure. It also offers unique networking opportunities, which can lead to lucrative post-consulting careers and employment opportunities.

What are some common reasons for choosing consulting? 
Common reasons for choosing consulting include the opportunity to learn about industries from a different perspective, desire for varied experience in one's career, and interest in exploring new ideas outside of one's usual job responsibilities or industry sector.

What are some benefits of consulting as a career? 
Compensation rates for consulting firms can be high, especially in cities where the capital markets are strong such as New York, San Francisco, and Boston.
A consulting firm may require an employee to work on a project from start to finish, which can include a significant amount of travel. Employees may be required to keep very good records including expense documents and staff schedules. Compensation varies according to one's experience and expertise. Salaries for new consultants range from $150K - 300K per year, with higher salaries possible if approved by the hiring firm's senior management.

What are the differences between being a consultant and a contract employee? 
Although there is some overlap between the terms, a consultant is independent contractor who works for himself or herself, while a contract employee has direct employer-employee relationship. This can make some people uncomfortable. Consultants experience less job security; if they perform poorly, their salary must be replaced by new employees, who may not be compensated as well. Consultancy can therefore lead to short-term contracts with smaller paychecks and reduced job security. A consulting firm offers more flexibility than traditional employment: an employee can work when and where they choose, but must follow directions in arranging meetings and making presentations to clients.

Are there benefits to being a consultant that can't be found elsewhere? 
In addition to earning more than their peers, consultants also tend to have more flexibility with their work hours. For example, you may not have to work on weekends unlike a regular employee. If your firm offers long term assignments, this can lead to less day-to-day stress from having to find new work each year. It may also lead to the opportunity for finding new corporate clients or working in different types of industries which can add benefits someone who is concerned about being pigeon-holed into one industry or location.

Are there drawbacks to consulting? 
Consulting may be seen as a "travel intensive" job, especially by those who may not wish to relocate often. People considering consulting should take into account the potential for major time zone changes for both you and your family. It isn't uncommon for consultants to work late at night on weekdays as well as weekends. Also, unlike a regular employee, you may not have any actual medical or dental benefits so these will need to be taken care of by you. Despite these drawbacks, many consultants find the compensation packages and flexibility in work-life balance are worth it overall.

Is it possible to have a successful career in consulting if your industry changes? 
Absolutely. Consulting firms often have people retained who are experts in an industry that has undergone drastic change. For example, a firm could retain you as the only expert on blue chip stock and market trends if they see that this is where things are headed. You can also add value to a firm by having outside knowledge of an industry which they may not be as familiar with.

Could I expect to be paid as much while working at a big corporate or financial institution? 
Not necessarily, but it probably depends on what position you were hired for and how quickly your pay would increase. Because of the high demand for consulting services, most firms are able to pay a higher salary than what a company might offer who is trying to hire someone in-house.

How much does it cost to start my own business as a consultant? 
It varies. There are many factors involved including, education, experience and location. One thing is for certain, it is going to cost hundreds of dollars in supplies and training events. It could be thousands if you need to purchase new equipment or pay for professional workshops.

If I'm considering consulting after work hours, is there a way to eat or get to sleep while I'm traveling? 
Yes. Many consultants choose to take advantage of the many "no-fly" and "no-sail" rules in place worldwide which allow them to use their laptops, phones and other electronics without fear of being reprimanded by the airlines for doing so. However, many find that the time spent on airplanes is more productive than relaxing and taking a nap.

How do you distinguish between an executive recruiter and an executive search firm? 
Executive recruiters are typically professionals who are looking for other executives to join a firm, while executive search firms are companies that offer executive recruiting services. As a consultant, you may be asked to evaluate the candidates presented to you or hired by the hiring firm. Your qualifications and experience are then used by the firm to help them make a decision about whom to hire for an open position.

What is the best way for me to find out about different industries? 
The easiest way is to contact your local Chamber of Commerce or another local professional association. Each industry has its own job market, so it's important that you learn more about them before you apply as a consultant. A great place to start is with information on each of your state's Department of Labor websites online at ( These are excellent resources for finding out all of the various industries in your area. Make sure, though, that you do not use this information as a reference when you are searching for a new business to get involved in.

Should I think about a career change after I leave an executive search firm? 
Yes, some consultants choose to enter into another field shortly after leaving an executive search company. Others will become entrepreneurs or public speakers and still others will become professors or nurses. Depending on your interests and what careers you have already pursued, you may find that a career change is not only possible but also rewarding.

How can I find out more about what it's like to be an executive search firm employee? 
First and foremost, you have to understand that the goal of an executive search firm is to help its clients fill their open positions quickly and at top dollar. Therefore, it's their job to prep candidates for interviews so that they make the best impression possible. This means that your client will likely ask you questions regarding how likely a candidate is to be hired based on your assessment as well as other factors such as experience level, education level and salary requirements.

Consulting can be very rewarding for those who have the desire to move around and get a better understanding of different industries. It is important to make sure that you understand the pros and cons of this career path and that you stay focused on what your goals are in order to make a smooth transition.

For more information check out the resources below:

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