In working on career management tasks, few do it better than employees of consulting companies. Especially compared with most employees of corporations.
Consultants understand that all work is short-term. There is this gig, then the next project. There are these results to accomplish and then, what’s next?
Consultants understand their value to their employer and their customer is to produce results while learning added job skills that will make them valuable in the next gig. In other words, the marketplace of work drives their behavior.
But what behavior does the marketplace of work drive? It turns out: quite a bit.
The consultant practices networking every day
Communicating is done with their network of contacts every single workday. Every day. Knowing what is happening in their environment allows consultants to hear about new opportunities first. And new trouble spots. They hear first about a group thinking of starting a new project or working on a new product or a company looking for people to hire.
This is built-in to their everyday work. Whether it is e-mail, on the phone or physically speaking with another person, one of the questions is “What’s going on with you? What’s new?” – both the interest in the other person as well as learning.
The consultant evaluates roles with job skills in mind
If your ability to work was dependent on having the latest job skills, you’d want to know what you will learn from this next position before taking it. Then you would evaluate what you think you will learn with what job skills you want to gain to stay current in the marketplace.
Consultants will turn projects down because they won’t learn more skills or help master current skills. In corporations, that isn’t as easy to do, but it is worth pushing back when offered an assignment that doesn’t help you grow in your career.
The consultant promotes people in his or her network
Part of networking is helping other people. When consultants network, they are not only looking for new opportunities for themselves, but they conscientiously look for opportunities for their network.
I received the benefit of one of these connections. Out of blue, I received a phone call from one of my consultant friends who told me about a position opening and that I should apply for it. Including the person I should send the application. A person. Not a robot application.
As you can imagine, I haven’t forgotten that.
The consultant knows to start looking for the next gig now
All positions last for so long and then the ride is over. You may think this doesn’t apply to a corporate employee, but this is true. Every position only lasts so long and then change will happen. The issue isn’t the position will end, the issue is whether you exert any control over the ending.
Consultants start to exert influence on the end of a position on Day One. They consistently think through how to use this position to the next, how to use it to jump into a new position, or what needs to happen next to master a job skill.
The consultant knows “who” is just as important as “what”
Sure, the first questions to a person in the network may be about the work. But the next question is all about whom the consultant would need to speak to about the work. People hire people. Consultants know that talking with someone about a position is important. Especially since when they are talking with them the position is usually not even posted yet. This is how to wire a position.
Aspiring Cubicle Warriors can learn a lot from how consultants practice career management. You can incorporate these career management practices in your daily work without great effort. Simply adjust how and what you speak with people about during your day. Ask different questions. Listen to the answers and spend some time evaluating your current position.
What career management techniques have you noted from consultants?