Finding Your Right Fit

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The process of researching consulting firms and then proceeding through the recruiting process can often be daunting. Each company will likely have a slightly different business model. Each firm’s organizational structure, compensation package, and target client base can also vary. Spending the time and effort to find your right fit can be the difference between a long-term, rewarding consulting career and a short-term job.

The career of a consultant is different from that of most single-firm employees. Given the unique aspects of a career as a consultant, it is essential to approach each interview with a clear picture of your expectations of the firm, and it's important to have a solid grasp on the company's culture.

Some aspects of company culture influence the overall company focus, while others address a work-life balance that can significantly alter a job's appeal. In addition to these factors are the potential for advancement within a given firm and the compensation packages offered not only to incoming employees, but also those which reward excellence within the company.

Company focus is measured by different standards depending on the nature of the firm. However, there are some questions you may find helpful in determining how different companies stack up. Find out what is the predominant measure of success at the firm. Is client satisfaction the most important metric or do financial targets play a larger role? How does the firm measure and ensure employee satisfaction? These questions can prove very insightful to the potential employee and can help to match you to a job that is right for you.

Another key aspect of any search for employment as a consultant concerns a firm's target clients and the types of projects in which they participate. Ask the interviewer what kind of clients and projects you could expect to work on and determine if the responses provide an area of interest for you. Find out if your focus would include more than one industry and ask how the firm qualifies clients and projects. These questions will help to guide your decision as you look for the right consulting firm.

Your happiness is important. A proper work-life balance can greatly enhance the quality of work you provide and keep you hungry and interested long after others have turned out the lights. Asking an interviewer about vacation times and leaves may by awkward, but if a firm does not offer the type of relief you need, the high-stress life of a consultant can bog you down, and you and your new employer will suffer as a result.

Once you have determined that a consulting firm offers the potential for a satisfying career, it is time to discover the reward. Will a firm allow you to participate in business development and client recruitment if you desire? If so, how do they compensate for this effort? Does the firm seek out and reward those who go above and beyond the call of duty, and do they offer employees the opportunity to provide feedback on the goals they are expected to meet?

Searching for employment as a consultant presents unique and challenging obstacles. Entering the process prepared with questions to help determine the right job for you can mean the difference between a job you love and another pit stop in your career. Good luck!
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