IT Consultancy—The Right Time for A Consultant Is Now

IT Consultancy—The Right Time for A Consultant Is Now


I have been working as an IT Consultant, and I can say that it's a great career choice for many reasons. I will encourage you to pursue a career in consultancy with this post, by telling you what it's like to be in the business.

Personally, I have struggled (and still am) to decide what I want out of my career. So I decided that being an IT Consultant is something I enjoy doing and is dynamic enough to keep me happy! Read on, and discover if this profession is a good career choice for you too!

Why would you like to be an IT Consultant?

The first thing that pops into your mind when mentioning this profession, is what? Money of course! It's a well-payed job, but besides that, it's a good career choice for many other reasons! First of all, it's a Challenge. Are you bored at your current job? C'mon admit it, it happens to everybody! Well, this is one of the reasons why I went into consulting. Most of my former jobs didn't have any Diversity. I would find myself working on the same project for more than a year, looking at the same code, and talking to the same client...every single day! What does this mean? No Progress. Well, since you will have quite a diverse job as a consultant, trust me, you won't be bored and you will learn a lot and constantly improve on the way!

Something else that's quite good, is that this job is very well Respected and one of the reasons for this is because you have the power to improve things as a consultant. You are directly involved with the client, and your solution can be a cure for the problems in these organizations.

And last, but definitely one of the most favorite things is Flexibility. Do you remember when you went fresh out of college and said that your dream job was to work from the beach under an umbrella with a cold cocktail? Well yes, this is possible. As an IT Consultant, you will most likely decide on the flexibility by yourself. If you have to code a website, you might as well do it from Malta!

What does it mean to be an IT Consultant?

Well, not everyone knows what an IT Consultant is.

You might hear comments like "He couldn't find a REAL job", which means that sometimes you will literally have to explain to people what your job actually is.

There are good and bad sides to the profession, and I will tell a few that I think are relevant. You can decide which are bad and which are good for yourself.

Time reporting and billable hours. I have been reporting hours since the first day of my career. Unlike many of my ex-colleagues, I don't hate it which is probably because I view it from a sales point of view. Every project you work on during the day is (most likely) billable. So in order for your company to charge for what you do, you must note those hours! The tricky thing in consultancy is that you don't always charge for all of the hours you work. As a full-time developer, you can charge the client 40 weekly hours of dedicated work, but as an IT Consultant, if you spend a day traveling, a day in meetings, a day in requirements gathering and paperwork, a day with follow-ups, etc. it's not very likely that you will be able to charge the client for all of that.

Getting out of your comfort zone. Since you will be often traveling, you will not get the chance - nor feel the need to personalize your desk and put your family photo or a pot with flowers. You will work from the client site, from home, from airport gates, or from another continent. You will also not be able to have deeper relationships with colleagues besides the Good Morning, and most certainly you won't have the time to grab lunch with them and catch on the latest buzz in the company. This basically means you will not have a sense of Belonging.

Travel and jet lag. As much fun as it sounds, sometimes it isn't. I love to travel, and you probably do as well, but this is not leisure travel, its work, and it is very likely that after flying to a totally different timezone, changing buses, waiting in gates, etc, you will directly have to get to a super important meeting and smile when they ask you how was the trip? You will often need more than a day to accommodate to the new environment and feel useless because of your sleepiness and exhaustion. But on the other hand, you will often have the chance to explore different countries and cultures, meet so many new people and learn so many new things!

One other reason why you will never be bored, never stop learning, and always be challenged, is the fact that you will work in so many different industries! From gold mines to railways, you will have the chance to meet people who work on different positions - from business leaders to any level in the company.

Who will hire you?

Companies that need help for things that they don't have expertise in their own company!

You will be hired to build software, implement existing software, provide training for employees, or anything for which you have expertise!

Types of IT Consultants

Basically, you can go corporate, and get a job in a company that hires IT Consultants, or you can go independent. If you go and get a job - well the best part is that work comes to you. You are not responsible for finding work for yourself, while when going independent - this is the biggest struggle.

Another good thing in the corporate world is that these companies that employ only consultants build a large expertise by having different people who specialize in different things. This means a looooot of backup when you need help with something. Whichever situation you are in, it's very likely that some of your colleagues has already experienced it. So yes, there is teamwork in this profession as well. But this doesn't mean that if you work independently you can't get help. On the contrary, I encourage you to team up nationally or internationally. This brings a lot of benefits, including passing work between each other.

And of course, when employed someone else is taking care of your flights, hotels, and generally your arriving safe at the destination. When you are independent, it's very likely you will struggle with the logistics by yourself and you will not allow yourself so many benefits. In general, benefits like having the best phone or laptop will not be something that will come naturally when you are working for yourself.

Going independent?

I can give you some advice if you decide to go independent. The first thing I would suggest is to Brand Yourself. Think dress code first, when I ask you to imagine Steve Jobs what image pops in your head? The black blouse, jeans, and sneakers of course! Barack Obama? Black or navy blue suit! I believe he once put on a cream suit and the whole internet talked about it! You ask why simplify fashion? Well, the most influential and busy people say that it's not worth spending time thinking about what to wear each and every morning! The human mind can make firm decisions up to a certain number during the day, and shrinking even this one dress-up decision can mean simplifying things so much!

The next thing I would recommend is of course business cards and then letting your network know about your new plans. You probably knew this, but just as a reminder!

CV - one of the most important things if you are applying for a project/work. I have learned that a single person can have multiple CVs depending on the job they are applying for. If you have experience in networking, programming, social media, etc, and you are applying for a programming job, you need to bring that to the front in your CV. Have the keywords from the advertisement in your CV and put the rest of your work in the background! Also, LinkedIn. One of the most important things is to have your LinkedIn updated and looking good. I have met people with great expertise and experience but a poor LinkedIn profiles - this doesn't scream "hire me". And trust me, there are so many opportunities on LinkedIn, so if you don't know how to structure your profile, I recommend getting advised by a company that specializes in this!

Networking. One of the most important things especially when you go independent. And not just with technical people, they are not always the decision-makers, you need to get into the executives club! Attend events - wherever there are people, there are opportunities. If you don't know where to start, I recommend www.meetup.com. Another good thing you can do to get recognized is to join user groups and speak at conferences. It's a great way to network and there is a big potential to meet the right people.

Expertise. Don't say you know everything, it's the worst thing you could do. You have to frame your services in the context of real-world needs! I recommend you write a list of the things you know, then take the things you love doing, and the last step is to take the things that the market needs. This was my strategy when I decided to start learning SharePoint.

Education and Certification. This is something that will make you stand out of the crowd, this and work you have done before! For many people, Microsoft certification is like science fiction, but trust me - it's not. I have obtained my MCP and MCSE while I was in high school. I was the youngest MCP on the Balkan and trust me all I knew is what I had experimented on virtual machines. I never had a chance to actually work with servers or networks. But I still passed all the exams! All you need to do is study hard and dedicate time!

Learn how finances work. You need to understand that sometimes it will take more than a year from the kickoff meeting for a project to its completion. This means you need to have money in your bank to cover your two-year expenses. And once you start having some income, don't forget to pay your taxes before you go ahead and spend it all! I also recommend putting some money to get health insurance since you will not be employed.

The Right Time for A Consultant Is Now

Most consultants are doing this type of work because they really enjoy it and they have found a way to make a living doing what they love to do. They can bring another viewpoint and usually a broad set of experience to your project, team, and company.

How to Choose the Right IT Consultant for Your Specific Business Needs

Choosing the right IT consultant is crucial for businesses looking to enhance their technology infrastructure or embark on software development projects. With the market flooded with options, finding a reliable partner that understands your specific business needs can be challenging. In this section, we will explore the key factors to consider when choosing an IT consultant.

1. Assessing Expertise and Experience: When selecting an IT consultant, it is essential to evaluate their expertise and experience. Look for consultants who specialize in the specific areas relevant to your business needs, such as software development, cloud computing, cybersecurity, or network infrastructure. Assess their track record by reviewing case studies, client testimonials, and project portfolios. A reputable IT consultant should have a proven record of successful projects and a history of working with businesses similar to yours.

2. Understanding Business Needs: A reliable IT consultant should take the time to understand your specific business needs and objectives. They should conduct an in-depth analysis of your existing IT infrastructure, identify gaps, and propose customized solutions. Look for consultants who prioritize collaboration and communication to ensure that the proposed solutions align with your business goals.

3. Reputation and References: A consultant's reputation and references can provide valuable insights into their reliability and quality of service. Look for consultants with a strong reputation in the industry and positive reviews from previous clients. Request references and contact them directly to gain a better understanding of their experience working with the consultant.

Conclusion

Choosing the right IT consultant is a critical decision that can significantly impact your business's success. By considering factors such as expertise, understanding of your business needs, reputation, and cost, you can make an informed decision. 

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