The word “consultant” is now used in many industries to describe specialised skilled individuals hired by companies to perform a specific job. Consultants are generally paid a premium, either as an employee on a large salary or as a contractor at a lucrative daily rate. If you want to improve your income and change your career prospects, could you consider becoming a consultant?

Here are five critical areas to focus on if you want to earn a 6 figure salary as a consultant.

1) Specialisation. If you are just starting out, choose the area you are going to specialise in carefully. Does it pay the amount required? How many companies require this skill? Are those companies based where you want to live? If you already have a career, which of your skills would lend themselves to consultancy? Can you see yourself as a specialist in this area? Make sure your chosen area of specialisation is future proof and will not become obsolete. For example, software developers should specialise in programming languages that will continue to be widely used. Focus and get experience in that area. Get certification if necessary. Only put yourself forward for roles that will add to your area of specialisation. Keep up to speed with new developments in the area.

2) Know the market. Talk to other consultants and recruitment agencies about what is available and what is required for the jobs you are interested in. Do you need your own company so you can invoice directly to your clients? Do you want to join a consultancy firm to gain experience first before setting out on your own? What do the companies require in order to pay the premium rate?

3) Have a great resume and good interview skills. Strip your resume of peripherals and non-relevant experience. Concentrate on expanding the areas of your resume that are about your specialist area. Have recommendations and references available that relate to the specific work you will consult in. Professional networking websites e.g. Linked In are good tools for promoting yourself and finding opportunities through colleagues.

4) Be flexible. Consultants often have to work at different companies, in different cities or even countries in their work. Daily financial benefits are often given for working out of town, but this may not fit with family life or work/life balance. Know what your limits are before signing a contract. Being flexible about the role itself is also important. Job descriptions, particularly for contract work, are often loosely defined. Adaptation to the changing demands of the job are therefore required. Your contract is more likely to get renewed if you are flexible.

5) Be confident. Consultants are confident in their abilities and portray this to their clients. Even if they don’t know the answer, they are confident enough to say that they will find out within a short time-frame. They deliver value for money and so are confident in their daily rate/salary level.

Being a consultant has its pros and cons, just like any job. There is the freedom to move on, autonomy, project based work and financial reward. But there are also stressful deadlines, overwork and too much travel, job uncertainty and not being paid for off days. It is not for everyone, but if you love change and are confident in your abilities, it is a great career choice.

Author's Bio: 

Joanna Penn is the author of “How to Enjoy Your Job”. Packed full of strategies, ideas and tips to help you enjoy your job and your life now!
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