No consulting professional will ever start at the top. That is just a fact of life. In order to be an effective consultant, you will need to possess experience. And experience is not merely about putting in a certain desired amount of time. It is also about gaining the proper skills needed to be a skilled consultant. Possessing expertise in a certain area is a must but such expertise alone is not going to help you become an effective consultant.
Case in point, in order to be a marketing consultant, you will need to possess a high level of skill in marketing. That is a fact that is certainly not in dispute. Those without solid knowledge or experience in marketing can't be consultants. How can you consultant anyone on anything that you have never done? The answer is you can but you would do so poorly! In all seriousness, you will need to maintain a certain level of expertise to provide the groundwork to be a consultant. But, such expertise only presents the "prologue" for such a career. You will need to effectively cultivate and possess the skills needed to perform properly and reliably in consulting jobs.
What would be needed to be successful in a consulting career? The number of attributed you need to possess are varied. Among the top attribute to possess would be:
Communications Skills: You simply cannot be a consultant unless you possess the needed skills to properly convey the information needed to the parties that request your help. In other words, if you are not effectively understood then your ability to be a consultant will be limited.
Identifying Problems: Consulting jobs will require a consultant to determine what problems exist and how to correct these problems. This would make perfect sense. You cannot consult someone on how to fix a problem if you have not determined what the actually problem is. So, consider trouble shooting and problem identification to be major components of being a solid consultant. As with other disciplines, experience is needed to ensure you have the potential to effectively address and identify problems.
Persuading Others: Identifying issues and communicating your opinion should aid in persuading a client into following your advice. Not everyone will want automatically accept your opinion. They might challenge you or even reject what you say. In such instances, you will need to be persuasive in order to effectively sway others towards your opinions and directives. Of course, you will also know when you need to actually walk away from the situation when it is obvious that the client is not interested in your advice. While this might not be the brightest part of the job, it is a part of the job you need to be familiar with.
All of this brings us back to the realm of entry level consulting jobs. In particular, the need to develop a great many different skills in the arena of consulting requires a growth and learning period. The best way to engage in such growth revolves around investing the proper amount of time in an entry level position (or series of entry level positions) that effectively promotes the learning stage required to embody the skills needed to be a great consultant.
Those that are very young and launching their careers could look towards volunteer or internship positions to help develop their skills. Others that are already in the workforce should look towards assistant or administrative positions as the basis for entry level exposure to consulting careers. Through working in an administrative capacity, you will learn many of the fine points of consulting which can set the stage for becoming a consultant in the discipline of your choosing at a later point. Once you do start your new career as a professional, the proverbial sky is the limit as far as income and growth potential is concerned.
It was not always easy to find listings for consulting jobs. Now, ConsultingCrossing.com has made the job search a lot easier. Examining the listings on the site is highly recommended.