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7 Superpowers Consultants Learn that Recruiters Love

Posted on June 15, 2018 at 1:15 PM


There were over 637,000 people in the United States employed in the management consulting industry in 2016, according to Statista.com. With annual staff turnover rates of an estimated 15-20 percent, that suggests tens of thousands of former consultants leave consulting every year to take 'real' jobs at corporations. Corporate recruiters often see former consultants as hot prospects for jobs outside of consulting. Part of the reason is recruiters value the brands of top consulting companies because they know their hiring processes are highly selective. Another reason is recruiters realize consulting teaches people these seven skills that are highly-valued outside of consulting.


1 - Conceptual Thinking - Clients hire consultants to solve complex problems that don't have clear solutions. Consultants learn conceptual thinking skills that help them build structure and process around ambiguous problems to find solutions. This comfort with ambiguity can help former consultants be seen as creative thought-leaders in their new organizations.


2 - Critical Thinking - Consultants learn critical thinking skills to apply logic and analysis to find the answers to problems. They develop a bias to seek out facts and data instead of settling for anecdotes or opinions in making decisions. These critical thinking skills can help former consultants be seen as smart, disciplined decision-makers in executive roles. 


3 - Effective Communication - Consultants are trained to be concise and clear in their communications. They get many opportunities to present their work to others. They learn techniques like "answer-first communications," the "pyramid principle," and "elevator pitches" that help them effectively explain complex topics. These communications skills can help former consultants standout in new organizations where other people have not had the benefit of the same training in effective communication.


4 - Quantitative Analytics - Consultants learn to use advanced quantitative tools and methods to analyze data needed to find answers to client's questions. This reputation as "number crunchers" can give former consultants credibility when dealing with quantitatively-driven colleagues in a new organization in areas such as finance and engineering.


5 - Prioritization - Because they charge expensive rates, consultants are trained to prioritize their work to maximize the value they return to clients. They do that by using the Pareto Principle, often called simply the "80/20 rule." This rule states a common phenomena where the most important 20 percent of things you could work on will produce 80 percent of the value. By focusing on the important stuff, and avoiding "sweating the small stuff," former consultants can be seen as more efficient and results-driven in new organizations.


6 - Teamwork - Consultants learn to work well in teams because their consulting work is typically team-based. Since a new team forms for each new project, consultants get a chance to work in many different teams over time. This comfort working within teams can be a big asset for former consultants in new organizations that work in teams.


7 - Time-Management - Consultants work under tight deadlines in their projects. They also have to add in travel time to get to the client. Consultants learn to be efficient in managing their time to meet those deadlines. As they leave for organizations that have a slower pace, consultants can use their time management skills to be more efficient at work and, potentially strike a better work-life balance.


I started my business career as a management consultant and I have found these skills to be quite valuable in a wide variety of leadership jobs after consulting, ranging from startups to a big bank to city and federal government. Even if you haven't worked in consulting, you can still learn these skills by finding training programs that teach them.

Categories: Communication Skills, Project Management, Strategic Planning