• Table of Contents :
  • 1. A misunderstood industry : more than giving advice
  • 2. The role of the consultant
  • 3. The different types of consultants
  • 4. The characteristics of the job of consultant

According to the Harvard Business Review, the consulting industry is worth more than $2 billion in the United States alone. As a result of the globalization of markets, the diversification of tasks and a changing business landscape, consulting has gradually integrated all spheres of the world economy. However, the consulting profession, symbolic of this phenomenon, remains largely unknown and its multiple roles are poorly understood by the general public. 

According to the dictionary, consulting is the practice of providing expert advice within a particular field. But it is much more than that. More than the simple role of giving recommendations, the consultant faces a multitude of tasks, adaptable to each industry and each client project.

Table 1. Hierarchy of consulting purposes (Harvard Business Review)

First of all, a company will call upon a consultant to provide specific information, this can be a cost study, a market analysis, a behavioral survey… The consultant thus offers an expertise that does not exist within the company itself and benefits from an external, independent and objective perspective on the client’s issues. The consultant’s role is to solve these problems by formulating a diagnosis and appropriate recommendations. He or she will then participate, to a certain extent, in the implementation of the proposed changes. Answering a question, understanding why the company is asking this question, finding a tailor-made answer: these are the main objectives of the consultancy.

Nevertheless, the consultant goes further. More than solving a given problem, their role is to give the client company the capacity to face the possible evolutions of the problem it has been confronted with, offering it greater flexibility. The consultant will work on organizational efficiency, thus optimizing the contribution of the workforce and its capacity to evolve and face new challenges. This concrete and long-term contribution gives the consulting industry its full value.

The complexity and breadth of the consultant’s role has fostered the development of different consulting branches. Consequently, we no longer speak of consultant but of consultants.

Human Resources/HR Consulting

As the process of hiring and managing the workforce has become extremely complex and globalized, HR consultants enable companies to reach the full potential of their employees and find the right talent for each situation. They will take on different roles such as selection, talent scouting, coordination between employees and the company…

Types of jobs: Recruitment Consultant, Human Capital Consultant, Employment Consultant, HR Consultant, Staff and Employee Relations Consultant, Consultant – Human Services…

Management Consulting 

Particularly useful during a transition or expansion episode of a company, management consultants benefit from expertise in a certain segment of an industry and will respond to the managerial and organizational needs of their clients.

Types of jobs: Business Consultant, Senior Risk Control Consultant, Change Management Consultant, Principal Consultant – Infrastructure…

Strategy Consulting

The consultant will help a company to understand and intervene in the face of possible operational problems or within their work strategy. The aim is to maximize the functionality of business plans in order to improve performance. 

Types of jobs: Strategy Consultant, Organizational Development Consultant, Educational Consultant, Creative Consultant, Implementation Consultant, Consulting Advisor, Business Analyst…

Technology Consulting

The primary role of technology consultants is to develop software solutions and design an firm-wide IT architecture adapted to the company’s needs in order to gain competitive advantage over their competitors. They master a strategic know-how and an understanding of the drivers of technological evolution and digital transition.

Types of jobs: Telecom Analyst, Cybersecurity Strategy Consultant, Field Technical Consultant, Sap Security Consultant, Software Implementation Consultant…

IT Consulting

In the same dynamic as technology consultants, IT consultants will recommend hardware and software as well as computer networks enabling businesses to build efficient systems and improve internal processes. 

Types of jobs: System Applications Consultant, Data Management Consultant, Network Consultant…

Operational Consulting

The operations consultants will assist companies through a wide variety of missions depending on the industry. We can distinguish different categories of operations consultants:

Marketing Consultant

It is about developing strategies to successfully promote, sell and distribute a good or service to a target clientele. On a larger scale, the marketing consultant works to expose a new brand or product to the public and transform it into a lucrative and sustainable business.

Legal Consultant

The role of the legal consultant is to identify, prevent and resolve any legal issues that a company may face. They may arise in different areas of law: labor law, contract law, business law, intellectual property, real estate, technology and innovation or trusts…

Public Relations/PR Consultant

If managing and calibrating the flow of information between the public and the client-company is the main role of the PR consultant, he or she also has the ability to help a company build the reputation that will be exposed to the general public, investors and partners, employees… In short, the PR consultant controls what others think of a company’s leadership and political and strategic decisions.

Social Media/Digital Consultant

As the job title indicates, the digital and social media consultant will work alongside a company to increase traffic on its website and social media pages. Their main means of action are SEO, SEA and various digital marketing techniques.

Other types of operations consultants exist, their roles referring mainly to their field of application: Healthcare Consulting, Personal Consultant, Risk Consultant…

Financial Consulting

Financial management consultants enable their clients to make the best financial and tax decisions through their expertise. Their role is to protect, restructure and maximize a company’s profits.

Types of jobs: Financial Advisor, Financial Analyst, Fundraising Consultant, Foreclosure Consultant…

Environmental Consulting

Consultants specializing in environmental issues will be called upon by companies seeking to reduce their environmental impact and carbon footprint, but also to comply with current standards and regulations. 

Types of jobs: Environmental Consultant, Environmental Audit Consultant, Environmental Air Quality Consultant, Environmental Project Manager, Environmental Field Consultant…

The consulting profession, although divided into different categories, is characterized by a range of core capabilities corresponding to its various roles:

– Analytical skills to analyze and solve a problem effectively…

– Communication and leadership skills to communicate meaningfully with clients and understand their needs

– Intellectual curiosity

– Professional and geographical flexibility

– Ability to work in a team.

Being a consultant is thus to privilege and know how to deal with flexibility and constant mobility, a diversity of frameworks and situations, intellectual challenges and collaborative work spaces. This demanding profession is paid accordingly and the median salary of a consultant reaches $83,620 in 2018 according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics’ Occupational Outlook Handbook. From entry-level to executive positions, consulting brings together a multitude of profiles and roles, and it is not uncommon in a career to do consulting between jobs. 

A consultant can work for a consulting firm or be freelance, but can also be employed within a company, such as Google BizOps, Disney Corporate Strategy & Business Development. They will thus develop an acute knowledge of the company in question and exploit this expertise.

Thus, just like today’s economy, the consultant is a versatile and flexible being. He or she benefits from a specific expertise in a particular field and their role is to put it at the service of a company in order to solve its various questions and to help it progress and reach its full potential.