South African businesses have undergone massive changes over the last few years, especially in how they interact with their clients and employees. Virtual meetings and work from home are no longer novelties, and the Gig Economy is in full swing.
Leon Hendricks, CEO and founder of DLK Group, shares what it takes to become a consultant in this very competitive field.
For many companies, this has meant augmenting their teams with consultants to ensure they have all the correct – often very scarce – skills on board. By the same token, people whose employment was affected by Covid-19 have turned to consulting as an alternative way to earn income, offering their scarce IT skills to a number of clients, rather than a single employer.
But what does it take to be a top IT consultant in this environment? These are the characteristics we look for in IT consultants to fulfil key roles in our clients’ businesses:
* You love what you do and are good at it. Consultants work and engage with companies which are “shopping” for the skills they need, so specific skill sets that make you stand out as a candidate are key. But you also need to love doing what you’ve specialised in because you’ll be applying those skills in many different industries.
* You want flexibility more than a permanent position. Consultants provide services on a short-term basis. Besides the flexibility benefits, consulting offers variety, specialisation, and the ability to choose the work that gives you the biggest kick and to set your own prices. Those who choose to work this way will tell you that these benefits far outweigh the downside of keeping your project pipeline flowing and making sure you’re earning enough to pay the bills at the end of the month.
* You want to experience many different industries. Exposure to different industries and cultures is a given for consultants. Our best consultants already have experience in a few industries and are always keen to learn about new environments.
* You’re keen to keep building on your existing knowledge. Consultants work across industries and have a wealth of experience in their area of specialisation, but also actively keep their skills updated. This allows them to apply their creativity more readily. They constantly expand their skills to keep up with the latest trends in their field.
* You’re flexible, reliable and agile. Flexibility, reliability, and agility are key tenets of how consultants operate. You value being able to determine your own hours and work patterns, but you’re also highly self-accountable because you know your next gig is dependent on positive references and a strong track record of previous gigs. This is why we look for people who are innovative and receptive to change to place as consultants.
The 4th Industrial Revolution is changing the way people work, and how companies engage with people and other companies. If you have the right skills and specialisation – and the right personality traits – you can succeed as a consultant.