The work life of an independent IT consultant is one that comes with several benefits. Basically, you no longer must work for a fixed salary, but instead get to dictate what rate you would like to be paid. Unlike an FTE IT professional who is bound by an employer’s laid down rules, you get the opportunity to work on your own terms. Simply put, you enjoy the luxury of flexibility, autonomy, and in most cases, a higher level of earnings.
So, as an experienced IT professional who would like to leave the confines of a salaried job, perhaps starting an IT consultancy business is what you need. You should know, however, that switching from being a full time IT professional to being an IT consultant may not be as easy as it might seem. Certainly, it would require that you go through some key steps and processes to get you ready for the new work situation. Thus, this blog has been prepared to show you just how to start your own consulting business.
How to Become an IT Consultant
Research and Decide on your Area of Specialty as an IT Consultant
Every human activity requires mental readiness. You don’t just jump into something without property getting prepared for what might be involved. And indeed, starting an IT consulting business is not an exception here. You need to be ready for the difficulties and responsibilities that come with being independent.
You have to do your homework, make necessary findings regarding the IT industry, and decide on which specific area to focus on. This may be determined based on your strength and interest. You just have to understand that a consultant must be known for a specific area of specialty. The simple reason behind that is that it instills trust in your clients: they are convinced that that particular area is your forte and can best be handled by you.
Create an IT Consultant Résumé or Profile
Having decided to become an IT consultant, you would need to get a résumé tailored for that purpose. As you already know, the IT consultant résumé is meant to highlight your abilities, skills, experience, and achievements. The résumé is one of the things that show potential clients that you’re the right person for them.
However, you need to understand that having a consultant résumé may sometimes not be enough. It’s not all there is to selling yourself as the best consultant out there. Therefore, you have to consider creating a strong, active online presence and visibility. You can simply get a compelling LinkedIn profile plus a sleek consulting website filled with incisive content that assert your authority and expertise. This way, you get to have a portfolio that demonstrates your knowledge in addition to the content of your résumé.
So what does an independent contractor resume look like? Here is a great example. Note a few key things:
- Summary Section on Top: This is a summary of your accomplishments. The content here could double as your Linked-in bio
- Skills Section: Unlike FTE employers that place emphasis more on soft skills, companies that hire independent consultants emphasize skills. Showcase your skills by listing them right before your summary.
- Orient Work Experience Around Value: Companies are looking for independent consultants to add value to their organizations either by increasing their profitability or cutting cost. So, when listing your experience, don’t just rehash your responsibilities, outline how you’ve added value in very specific terms by including metrics and numbers.
- Education At the Bottom: Unless you have a PHD or higher in a highly sought after skill and/or are light in experience, your Education should be at the bottom of your resume. Otherwise, you can put your education before your experience.
- Acquire and Highlight Your Certifications: As a consultant, you are expected to be on top of your professional game, so to speak. And one way to do and demonstrate this is by acquiring certifications in your field. Call-out your certifications below your skills if they are highly specialized and sought after. Otherwise, list them at the bottom of your resume.
Improve on Your Knowledge and Skills where Necessary
In order to position yourself for better opportunities, you may need to learn one or two things in addition to all that you already know. This simply helps to get you one step ahead of others, as it strengthens your resume or profile even more. Remember, the need to specialize in a particular IT aspect would require that you create the best version of yourself at it.
You can enroll in courses and trainings at your local college or community college. Better still, take courses on online learning platforms. While these platforms don’t offer the prestige of an educational institution, they offer great flexibility and are extremely affordable. Besides, some instructors offer courses just as good, if not better than educational institutions’ courses. Many in fact go as far as providing real-life practical examples. Udemy and Coursera are great options, but you can find a more detailed list of platforms to consider here.
Get Your Feet Wet as A Contract Employee
As a consultant, you have the chance to work exclusively for one company at a time or function as a contract employee for many clients. For consultants starting out, we recommend that they try a few contract employee opportunities before going the full-blown consulting style. As a contract employee, while you don’t maximize the benefits of being a full-blown consultant, you still enjoy significantly more flexibility, autonomy and pay than full time employees. Also, being a contract employee helps you limit the effects of one of the hardest parts of being a consultant which is finding clients. Most companies in highly professional fields like Technology, Engineering and even Medicine that hire full time employees, hire contract employees.
So, a good place to start looking for contract employee jobs is on company websites or job boards. Also, there are recruiting agencies that specialize in contract employee jobs. So, google these companies in your area and let them know that you are on the market as a contract employee. Once you get your feet wet as a contract employee, you can transition to a full-blown consultant that can work on multiple projects for different companies.
Find IT Consultant Clients
If you choose to take the leap and decide to serve multiple consulting clients at the same time and maximize the benefits of consulting, then you need to do a bit more work in finding clients. Browsing company websites and job boards will not be sufficient. You will need to actively seek out clients by networking. Nevertheless, from individuals to companies to government institutions, there are clients waiting for you everywhere. Let contacts in your personal, professional and social networks know that you have gotten into consulting and offering your services. Actively work to grow these networks and constantly create awareness around your consulting business and request referrals. All you need might just be to pitch your business to the right persons to gain customers.
Alternatively, you could sign up on online job marketplaces like Upwork, Freelancer or Consultant Vue, or just reach out to top IT recruiting agencies around you. At Consultant Vue we are creating a consulting marketplace exclusively for skilled consultants. Not only would you be able to find consulting jobs easily on the platform, but you could also benefit from tools and resources for managing your consulting business. We are offering free lifetime accounts as we ramp up our user base. So, check us out here and claim your free account today.
We’ve provided you some basic tips to help you transition into full-time consulting. In subsequent blogs, we will provide more detailed tips and insights that will fully immerse you in the actions real-life consultants take to position their consulting business for success and consistently land lucrative clients. We will help you go from wherever you are in your consulting journey to a seasoned pro. So, stay tuned!