Consulting Skills & Qualifications: Business & Career Guide

Business consulting skills and qualifications are becoming more and more needed when it comes to fields such as marketing, sales, business management and development, finance, IT, public relationship and human resources (HR).

On this page you will learn:

  • What is a business consulting? Definition.
  • List of key consulting skills required for resume and job interview questions.
  • Business consultant roles, responsibilities and qualifications.
  • Some of the best consulting firms to work for.
  • Top business fields to be a consultant.

What is a business consulting?

consulting skills and qualificationsBusiness consulting is an activity related to providing professional advises in a specific business area such as marketing, business management and development, sales, finance, human resources and etc.

The person who doing this is called a business consultant. He is an expert in a particular area.

A professional consultant works with clients (companies or individuals) on planning, making strategies and problem solving in order to help them fulfill their needs and goals.

Types of Consultants:

  • External consultant
    An external consultant is a company or a person who is employed externally. An external consultant generally works with many clients and organization to provide solutions for particular problems.
    For example, a company may hire a certified marketing consultant to identify potential client needs and to make plans and strategies for market growth.
  • Internal consultant 
    An internal consultant is a person who operates within an organization. He has defined roles and responsibilities. A company may have several consultants with different responsibilities such as marketing consultant, sales consultant, HR consultant, financial consultant, public-relations (PR) consultant, IT consultants etc.

To be an effective and professional consultant, you have to possess a good combination of many consulting skills and abilities.

Key Consulting Skills List

  • Communication Skills

Communications are the main part of your job as a consultant, so be sure you know how to improve and develop your both verbal and non-verbal communication abilities.  You have to be able to present your ideas clearly and persuasively in written and oral forms.

Examples of good communication skills are active listening skills, written communication skills, be confident and patient.

  • Analytical Skills

Analytical skills are crucial consulting skills. Analytical skills are the ability to collect, gather, visualize and analyze information in details. They include also the ability to see a problem or situation from different points of views.

As a consultant, you have to be able to identify and analyze problems and situations in order to provide working and effective advice.

Examples of analytical skills are the ability to collect the right information, numeracy skills, strategic thinking.

  • Attention To Detail 

You should not miss important details! Strong attention to detail skills are important abilities for every type of  consultant.

Because details will show you how to manage problems and will help you provide professional advice to your clients or managers.

What is attention to detail?
To pay attention means to focus on an action or thing. In business aspect, attention to detail definition includes the ability to concentrate on a task.

  • Problem-Solving Skills

As a consultant, your tasks and goals are to provide solutions to particular problems. So, problem-solving abilities are absolutely crucial consulting skills.

In your career, the problems you face can be simple or complex, and easy or difficult. A fundamental part of consultant’s role and responsibilities is defining ways to solve them.

The problem-solving process includes defining the problem, generating alternative and options, evaluating and selecting solutions, implementing solutions.

  • Decision-Making Skills

Decision-making skills are in a strong connection with problem-solving abilities! We use decision-making skills to solve problems by selecting one from several possible alternatives.

Your managers or clients expect you to come up with possible solutions and advice for a particular problem. That is what a business consultant’s work is about, isn’t it?

  • Creativity skills in business consultancyCreativity

Creativity is a powerful tool for every business area, field, and profession. Consultancy is not an exception!

Creative solutions, improvements, and developments have a significant impact on your job efficiency and productivity.

  • Adaptability Skills

If you are searching for a job now, you definitely notice that many companies require adaptability and flexibility in your job description. So, be sure to include them in your resume and CV. Also, be ready to answer job interview questions about them.

Adaptability skills are important consultancy skills too. Adaptability skills include these abilities that allow you to fit the changed circumstances.

Adaptability in consultancy means to be able to change in order to provide adequate solutions and advice for new and different business situations.

  • Hard Skills

The listed above skills are related mainly to soft skills. But if you want to succeed in the field of business consultancy, you definitely need a good set of hard skills too.

Hard skills are those skills that are easy measurable. They can be learned at school and university. Some of the best examples of hard skills are a degree or certificate, foreign language knowledge, mathematics, and etc.

The particular hard consulting skills depend on the field you are working in.

For example, if you are a professional finance consultant, it is a great advantage to have degree and qualifications in finance and /or mathematics. If you are an IT consultant, the knowledge of programming languages such as C++ and JAVA are a must.

The listed consulting skills are the basis for effective consulting work.

Do not forget that your consulting skills depend on your willingness to learn, improve and develop them.

Let’ see now which are the key consultant roles and responsibilities and what actually a business consultant do.

Business Consultant Roles, Responsibilities and Qualifications

The particular responsibilities and qualifications depends totally on the job position and business area.

For examples:

  • If you are an online marketing consultant, your responsibilities include implementing both on-site and off-site SEO optimization, perform system architecture for marketing platforms such as marketing automation, CRM, Google Adwords, Analytics and etc. Qualifications such as the degree from an accredited college or university, with a focus on economics, statistics, and business is a big advantage.
  • If  you are a financial consultant, your main responsibilities are collecting financial information, analyze financial situations, identifying investment objectives, making investment recommendations and etc. Some of the best qualifications here are Certified Financial Planner (CFP) certification, degree  on economics, statistics, mathematics and etc.

Despite the differences coming from the specificity of the jobs, there are some common roles and responsibilities that are typical for every type of business consultant:

  • consultant roles and responsibilitiesGive expert opinion and advice in a particular field;
  • Identify problems and opportunities;
  • Identify strengths and weaknesses;
  • Provide solutions for problems;
  • Teach, train, and support;
  • Influence other people;
  • Plan and make strategies;
  • Give ideas;
  • Analyze situations;
  • Find methods and ways for developing;
  • Optimization;
  • Improving work performance;
  • Increasing employee motivation;
  • Identify clients needs and etc.
Top Consulting Firms

Vault.com, a career website, has released a list of the best consulting firms to work for.

Here is a list of some of them:

  • McKinsey & Company

McKinsey & Company is a global management consulting firm that serves leading businesses, governments, non governmental organizations, and not-for-profits. They help their clients make lasting improvements to their performance and realize their most important goals. Over nearly a century, they’ve built a firm uniquely equipped to this task.
Official website: http://www.mckinsey.com/

  • Bain & Company 

Bain & Company is one of the world’s leading management consulting firms. They work with top executives to help them make better decisions, convert those decisions to actions and deliver the sustainable success they desire. For 40 years, they’ve been passionate about achieving better results for their clients—results that go beyond financial and are uniquely tailored, pragmatic, holistic and enduring.
Official website: http://www.bain.com

  • The Boston Consulting Group

With over 10,000 employees in 82 offices in 46 countries, the firm is one of the World famous consulting groups. According to Forbes magazine, this reputable firm is one of America’s Largest Private Companies.
Official website: http://www.bcg.com/

  • Deloitte Consulting LLP

“Deloitte” is the brand under which tens of thousands of dedicated professionals in independent firms throughout the world collaborate to provide audit, consulting, financial advisory, risk management, tax and related services to select clients. These firms are members of Deloitte Touche Tohmatsu Limited, a UK private company limited by guarantee (“DTTL”).
Official website: http://www2.deloitte.com/

  • Oliver Wyman

With offices in 50+ cities across 26 countries, Oliver Wyman is a leading global management consulting firm that combines deep industry knowledge with specialized expertise in strategy, operations, risk management, and organization transformation.
Official website: http://www.oliverwyman.com

Top Business Fields to Be a Consultant
  • IT and Computers

We suppose that you are not surprised, IT is a top field to work. This area has unlimited potential that is growing constantly.

  • Human Resources

Everything related to people skills and organization is very important for companies, so you can expect that HR is a field with a great potential. As a consultant in this area, you have to be able to improve everything from hiring people to their efficiency at work.

  • Marketing and Sales

These fields are in a direct connection with clients and customers. Some areas have amazing growth such as internet marketing, content marketing, and international business.

  • Finance

Finance is a business field that includes a wide range of activities related to company’s income and expenses. Organizations will always need experts and professionals in this area.

  • Management

One of the most difficult, but also one of the most high-paid areas for consultants.

Your consulting skills and qualifications are the power that can significantly change your career!

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About the Author Marin Valchev

Marin Valchev, PMP is an IT Project Manager with more than 10 years of experience. He implements cutting-edge technology in a wide-range of Financial and TELCO companies in Europe, Asia, and Africa. Marin shares his knowledge of software, analysis, project management and other business areas.

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