5 Mistakes Consultants Make While Trying to Land Gigs

Independent consulting is a saturated and highly competitive market. In order to stand out, here are five mistakes you should always avoid:

1. Not paying attention to the job description.

With a wide variety of positions readily available through online job boards and other recruiting sources, many consultants fall into the routine of broadly canvassing for dozens of roles at a time, regardless of whether their background and skills match up with the provided job description. This puts an unsustainable quantity of applications in front of hiring managers, who are forced to sort through stacks of mismatched resumes without spending the time necessary to understand each individual profile. Due to the oversupply of unqualified resumes, only 2% of job applicants ever receive an interview.

Instead, try focusing on a manageable number of roles for which you meet all of the listed expectations. Most importantly, take the time to develop your application in a way that will catch the hiring manager’s attention. Not only will your time be spent more efficiently, you’ll be certain that the recruiter is contacting you regarding a role for which you are truly a good match.

2. Pursuing stretch roles.

Applicants for full-time positions frequently pursue “stretch roles”, or jobs for which they are not currently qualified, but could be with additional on-the-job training. This makes sense in the context of a permanent role, as employers are more willing to put in the time and resources necessary to train a potential candidate if it will lead to a long-term payout.

The playing field changes for consulting hires. When applying for this type of role, you should already consider yourself a subject matter expert as required for the position. In order to grow your sphere of knowledge and expand to new roles in the future, consider putting in extra hours at your current position to cross-train and learn from lateral positions in other departments.

3. Undervaluing continuing education and certifications.

When consulting independently, relevancy is key. Continuing education and certifications should be an ongoing priority in order to keep skills and knowledge current with best practices. These resume boosters will both compliment your existing skill set and make you more attractive and valuable to potential clients.

If you’re interested in learning about specific educational resources for your area of expertise, contact us and we’ll point you in the right direction.

4. Botching the interview.

A common faux pas when speaking with potential clients is over-promising knowledge and expertise, but under-delivering upon hire. Our tip: Don’t say “I can fix that” to every problem presented by the interviewer. Instead, highlight your tangible skills and discuss specific deliverables which you are confident you can provide. When pursuing a consulting position, asking to learn on the job is a red flag to hiring managers. As previously discussed, consultants are hired for their current knowledge and should already be masters of their skills.

5. Misjudging rate.

As an independent consultant, determining and enforcing your rate is a daunting task. It’s important to neither undervalue nor overvalue yourself, as potential clients will use this information to assess how you perceive your own worth.

To determine your ideal rate, estimate the market value for your full-time salary using a resource like Glassdoor and add a premium for marketing, preparation, and downtime. If you’re still not sure, feel free to ask a Consultant Success Manager for advice. We’re proud to announce that we’ll soon be offering aggregated hourly data and suggested rates to help make the decision easier.

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