Category

Consulting Industry

How to Get the Most Out of Your Consultants

By | Consulting Industry, Professional Development

What We’ll Cover In This Piece:

  • Why keeping a one-team mindset and encouraging collaboration between consultants and employees is beneficial
  • The importance of onboarding consultants quickly and efficiently
  • How consultants can help advise managers in a support system role

Estimated Time to Read:  8 minutes

Related Article: 3 Hiring Pain Points–And How BenchWatch Solves Them


As a manager, hiring consultants means you can do more for less. Consultants bring a high level of talent and experience at a lower cost than a full-time employee. From a financial perspective, hiring consultants is a no-brainer.

However, using a consultant workforce requires effective management.

Regardless of how talented your consultants are or how low they’ve set their bill rates, if you mismanage them you’ll be missing out on most of their potential value.

This article is going to prescribe three management practices that will allow you to get the most out of your contracted workforce, starting with:

1. Keep A One-Team Mindset

It can be tricky to integrate consultants seamlessly into your team. Your full-time employees and consultants have different contracts, trajectories, responsibilities, even different badge colors. However, they have to all come together as a cohesive team.

An inexperienced project manager will allow the consultants and the full-time employees to work isolated from one another.

Sometimes, this means the project manager will treat the consultants better than their full-time employees, delegating “less important” work to their full-time employees. This is a mistake–nobody should be given any preferential treatment. Each person is just as important to the team’s success as the other.

Other times, this means the project manager will isolate all of the consultants in one small shared office.

Separating the team into tribes like this stifles collaboration. The whole project slows as a result, which can get expensive when you’re paying your consultants by the hour.

If you want your team to come together successfully, you have to force them to share a space—both in terms of their physical workspace, and their responsibilities.

The best project managers will actually mix-up their teams intentionally so that consultants and full-time employees are forced to collaborate.

2. Onboard Consultants Quickly, But Efficiently

One of the challenges of working with consultants is getting them up to speed fast enough.

You need your consultants to be able to work with the same autonomy as full-time employees in order to get the most out of them, but full-time employees typically have been through training programs and have spent significant time in your organization already.

Consultants don’t have that. They need a specialized onboarding process.

The best companies prepare onboarding materials that educate consultants on the company, from its history to its structure, and the project they’re working on, both its scope and their role within it.

Consultants don’t need to be trained on new skills—you contracted them because they already have those. What they need is a thorough education about the project they’re coming onto.

Once that’s in place, it’s incredibly easy to get a large team of consultants up to speed and providing value quickly.

3. Be Transparent With Your Consultants

Consultants can be some of the best advisers you’ve ever had on a project–a sort of neutral, 3rd party support system.

A consultant has usually been on many similar projects at different companies, and can give you insights as to common obstacles and strategies for overcoming them.

Consultants are also the ideal mediators. When full-time employees are having real problems with management, consultants can bring the concerns to management in a way that doesn’t come across as insubordinate.

When management is having problems with a full-time employee, inversely, consultants can bring up their concerns with the employee as a co-worker, not as a boss.

The best managers will use consultants in this capacity—as mediators, advisors, sometimes even as therapists. Not using consultants in these ways limits the value you get out of your contracted workforce, and will hold your project back from progressing as smoothly as it should.

Consultants Are Only As Good As Their Manager

When you’re hiring full-time employees, you have to make a lot of difficult judgements:

  • Does this person have the potential to grow within our company?
  • Am I confident this person won’t washout in their first year?
  • Can this person learn the skills I need them to learn to succeed?

You don’t have to make any of those with consultants.

  • Consultants aren’t going to grow within your company.
  • If a consultant can’t deliver, you end the contract. No severance, no mess.
  • Consultants are hired because they already have the skills you need.

The only real question you have to answer when you bring on consultants is this:

Do you have the management skills to get the most out of them?

7 Skills That Are Always In Demand For Consultants

By | Consulting Industry, Marketing Yourself, Professional Development

What We’ll Cover In This Piece:

  • Why consultants need skills that are perennially valuable.
  • What skills will always be in demand among businesses.
  • Where you can learn each skill.

Estimated Time to Read: 5 minutes

Consultants looking to level up usually ask the same question:

What’s the one skill I could add to my repertoire to be more valuable right now?

They’re interested in the new hot technology, the new trend in business—anything companies will be hiring for over the next five years.

There are certainly a bunch of skills that you can develop to land more contracts in the next several years. Hot areas we currently see in the market include: Salesforce.com, cyber security, cloud migrations, Office 365 implementations, marketing automation, and Workday implementations. Any of these will definitely make you an attractive candidate for the near future.

But what skills are always in demand – no matter what technology or trend is hot?

While having skills that are marketable right now is certainly a positive, it is much better to have skills that are always in demand.

When you have a set of skills that companies are always hiring for, you don’t have to worry about “the next big thing.” You can add new skills if you think it makes sense, but you’ll never be in a position where you have to learn an entirely new skill to get work.

You will be secure.

With that in mind, we’ve broken down seven skills that companies are always hiring for. A consultant with any of these—and especially with more than one of these—will always be able to find work.

1. Communication and Marketing Skills

Communication and marketing is always going to be a part of business. Companies will always need someone to communicate their message to the customers, employees, and investors.

If you become an expert in communication, you will always be able to find contracts as a consultant.

If your degree isn’t in marketing or communication, that’s OK. This field isn’t impossible to break into.

There is also an incredible amount of free marketing courses offered by universities, like this introduction to marketing offered for free by the University of British Columbia. But gaining on the job experience is always best.

2. Project Management

Basically every project (or change) undertaken by a business needs someone who is an expert in project management. These people understand the science (and art) of navigating a change from start to successful finish — and ensuring the “value objectives” are actually achieved.

Having a business degree somewhat helps in developing your project management skills, but just being on projects and learning from their leaders is the only way to get really good.

3. Business Analytics

Being able to analyze all the complex, moving parts of a business, and provide accurate analysis of where the business is and where it is going, is a critically important part of any large business.

Before any major decision, all parties involved want to make sure they have an accurate understanding of what is going on in the business, and that’s where business analysts come in.

You will never struggle to find work as a business analyst, but it’s also a field where more formal training is necessary. A good start is this free course offered by Columbia University.

4. Excel/Powerpoint Skills

Before we get into this, let’s clear something up. Having a basic understanding of Excel and Powerpoint does not mean you have expert level skills.

Consultants and contractors live in Powerpoint and Excel. They are the two tools that seem to run every business (even if they don’t want to admit it).

If you are an expert at either of these pieces of software, there will be a role for you on any project.

Fortunately, there are a ton of courses available for both. Microsoft actually offers an Excel course specifically for business analytics for $49. You can find free courses all over the internet, or if you prefer to learn in person, any local university almost certainly offers training.

5. SAP Development

SAP SE is the biggest technology company most people have never heard of.

They are an exclusively enterprise software company that services large corporations and business entities. Since the 1970’s, they have been the gold standard in the field.

As a consultant, if you understand how to work in this tool, you are valuable to virtually any large business in the world. Fortunately, SAP offers their own learning platform full of courses for anyone interested in SAP development.

6. Process Engineering

Process engineering is the redesigning and optimizing of process and workflows in a business.

One of the more famous examples of process engineering happened with Hallmark Cards.

The card company had a production cycle that took three years for a card to go from an idea to a finished, delivered card. As time went on, executives at Hallmark realized that releasing cards in under a year would allow them to capitalize on niche markets and ultimately increase revenue—they just didn’t know how to do that.

Using process engineering, they deconstructed their production process. While they had assumed that the bulk of the production cycle happened in the printing and editing phase, what they found was that the idea stage was responsible for 2/3rds of the production cycle.

By tweaking the production process, they significantly shortened the idea phase, and brought the production cycle down to under a year.

That’s process engineering, and if you’re good at it, you’re worth a lot of money to any corporation. Any business program will offer courses on process engineering, or you can do an online course like this one offered by ALISON.

7. Java/C++/.NET Development

Java, .NET and C++ are three of the the most widely adopted programming languages in the corporate world.

Becoming an expert in any of these is a guaranteed way to consistently find work as a consultant among corporations, as there is always a need for new solutions to be developed.

There are a variety of free resources to learn online, including Microsoft’s .NET developer’s guide. There are also many development “bootcamps” you can attend to earn a certification in software development with these languages in a matter of months.

Always Ask, How Do I Remain Valuable?

As a consultant or contractor, there’s nothing worse than having a skillset that depreciates in value. As soon as the market decides that what you do isn’t valuable, all the security you thought you had is ripped out from under you.

These are skills that never stop being valuable. Businesses are built on top of them. The more of them you have under your belt, the more relaxed you can feel about your future.

You will always be needed.

3 Hiring Pain Points Recruiters Face—And How BenchWatch Solves Them

By | About BenchWatch, Consulting Industry

What We’ll Cover in This Piece:

  • The necessity of staffing firms in the consulting industry.
  • The three major friction points recruiters face in the hiring process.
  • How BenchWatch can alleviate all three of these pain points.

Related article: LinkedIn vs. BenchWatch – What BenchWatch is and isn’t, and how to use it in tandem with LinkedIn to power your consulting career.

Estimated Time to Read: 5 minutes


In order to put together a team of high-level business consultants, you need to have several things:

  • Access to a talented pool of consultants
  • Information about those consultants’ availability
  • A reliable way to vet a consultant’s skills and experience

And you need to be able to contract consultants and put new teams together quickly.

This is really difficult. The relationships, data, and processes required to hire consultants effectively don’t come easy, and when you’re talking about $200 per hour consulting contracts, companies want to be certain they hired the right person.

Major corporations—who are rapidly adopting flexible workforce solutions—are not built to handle this process. Without staffing firms to handle the contracting of consultants, big companies simply wouldn’t be able to work with consultants at scale.

But even these staffing firms, who specialize in recruiting consultants and connecting them with projects, face major points of friction in the hiring process.

In this article, we’re going to examine the three highest-friction hiring problems all recruiters face, and show how you can solve them by using BenchWatch.

1. It’s Difficult To Tell Which Consultants Are Available

When a staffing firm is given a project with a list of positions to staff, they usually know dozens—if not hundreds—of consultants who’d be good for each role.

However, recruiters have no way of immediately knowing if a consultant is available or not. As a result, they waste hours communicating with various consultants, trying to figure out who is available for what project.

A central component of every consultant’s BenchWatch profile is their availability. Every consultant has to update their availability with each new project, meaning that a recruiter using BenchWatch can tell at a glance which consultants are available for which jobs,

2. Recruiters Are Flooded With 1,000s of Resumes

Any time a recruiter accepts applications for a position, they inevitably receive 1,000 resumes that they then have to sort through.

Pouring over all of those resumes is a waste of the recruiter’s time, but it also slows the entire hiring process down, meaning consultants who are right for the job still have to wait longer to start their contract.

A recruiter doesn’t want thousands of candidates who are decent fits for a role, they want one candidate who is perfect for the role.

Giving recruiters the one candidate who is perfect for their role is one of BenchWatch’s primary functions. BenchWatch uses a matrix of data including bill rate, skills, experience, availability, travel capability, and a patented trust score to decide which consultants are ideal for your role.

3. Bad Resumes Take Substantial Tailoring

In the majority of cases, when a recruiter finds an ideal candidate for a role, they will take that candidate’s resume and tailor it for the project. This process is time-consuming, and lengthens the entire hiring process.

Most consultants simply don’t know how to write a good consulting resume—and just as concerning, most consultants only have one version of their resume.

Consultants need to have different versions of their resume tailored for different types of roles. BenchWatch doesn’t just offer guides to crafting perfect consulting resumes, it gives consultants the option to upload multiple versions of their resume to their BenchWatch profile.

Recruiters can then easily access and share the relevant resume with the hiring company.

Smoother Hiring Means More Jobs For Everyone

The consulting market is exploding, and there is major pressure on staffing firms to constantly improve their efficiency. The reason for this is that the faster and more effectively staffing firms can connect consultants with jobs, the faster the companies hiring the consultants can move on to the next project.

Flexible workforce solutions have allowed companies to aggressively pursue new projects, and this rapid growth will continue as quickly as the hiring process allows.

Simply put, faster hiring means more contracts for everyone.

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LinkedIn vs. BenchWatch

By | Consulting Industry, Marketing Yourself, Professional Development

What We’ll Cover In This Piece

  • Why you need both LinkedIn and BenchWatch to land consulting projects.
  • Why LinkedIn is the best general networking tool available.
  • How BenchWatch is different and better than LinkedIn for consulting

Estimated Time to Read:  3-5 minutes


A common question we hear from consultants curious about BenchWatch is “Well, why should I use BenchWatch, can’t I just keep using LinkedIn?” Our response is always the same. We ask them “What’s the one thing you use LinkedIn for?”

That’s a difficult question, because you don’t do just one thing on LinkedIn. You message your peers on LinkedIn, you keep tabs on their work life, you share articles, and your thoughts.

But even though you do 10 different things on LinkedIn, it’s all geared towards one very specific result:

LinkedIn is Facebook for business

LinkedIn is the modern day rolodex and initial resume.  It helps you track relationships — and that’s great. Keep using LinkedIn for that, it can do that well. You’ll always know where your contacts are working and you can keep track of their professional life.  

BenchWatch isn’t built to do what LinkedIn does—it has its own extremely specific goal:

BenchWatch gets consultants hired for jobs.

So the question “Should I use BenchWatch or LinkedIn?” is actually a false dichotomy. The truth is, as a modern professional, you need to be using both.

LinkedIn Is Ideal For Connecting—But Terrible For Finding Consulting Projects

If you wanted to grow your network and meet 20 professionals from your field living in your area, where would you go? LinkedIn is the obvious choice. You can search for people in your industry and in your city, and you can easily reach out to begin a relationship.

Even better, you can write articles in your field (and if you’re a consultant, you should be writing articles) and publish them to LinkedIn to build up your authority in the eyes of your network. If your writing is interesting enough, people will come to you to connect.

But imagine you ran a consulting firm, and a client wanted you to hire 5 consultants. If you post a job, you’ll get a ton of irrelevant resumes you must filter through (similar to Monster.com).  So you do the following:

  1. Search through all of your connections for anyone who has “consultant” in their job title.
  2. Manually search through all of those results to find consultants experienced in your field.
  3. Try to discern which of those consultants have the skills you need for this specific role.
  4. Figure out who you might know in common who could endorse each consultant.
  5. Reach out to each remaining prospect to figure out their availability and bill rate.

That’s a ridiculously manual and time consuming process. You don’t have access to clear information about each consultant’s actual skills, just a generalized resume. You don’t know if they’re available for work, if they can travel to you, or if their bill rate even fits your budget.

In general, it’s an old and inefficient way to hire. There has to be a better way, right?

That’s where BenchWatch comes in.

BenchWatch Makes Hiring Consultants and Contractors Easy

BenchWatch is built by consultants for consultants.  It focuses specifically on the data required to hire a consultant.  When a consultant or contractor creates their BenchWatch profile, they supply the following information:

  1. Availability.
  2. Key skills.
  3. Industry expertise.
  4. Previous clients and projects.
  5. Location.
  6. Bill rate (high and low range).
  7. Willingness to travel.
  8. Resume(s).

If a consulting firm is looking to hire 8 consultants for a project, they search for the specific skills, experience, price, and availability they need. They don’t post a job ad and get flooded with 1,000 applications from people who don’t qualify. They use BenchWatch, and they find the perfect candidates instantly.

Even better, BenchWatch uses patented trust technology to score how well a hirer can trust you depending on work you’ve done in the past, other consultants connected to you,and the clients you’ve done work for.

That means that work literally comes to you—and it will be the sort of work you’re best at.

That is how we designed BenchWatch: to make the the hiring process, from discovery to decision, fast and easy for both consultants and recruiters.

Why You Need BenchWatch and LinkedIn

BenchWatch and LinkedIn aren’t competitors. They’re both non-negotiable, essential tools for a modern consultant.  You must have both.

Managing your full set of business contacts will always be a critical part of business—and LinkedIn does this well. If you want to find a mentor, if you want to connect with your peers, or if you want to become an authority in your field, LinkedIn is without question the best tool to get the job done.

But if you want to find consulting work quickly and easily, BenchWatch is the only tool for the job.

Put together, LinkedIn and BenchWatch form the basis of your professional toolkit.

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3 Major Trends In Consulting Today—And How They Benefit You

By | Consulting Industry, Professional Development

What We’ll Cover in This Piece:

  • The rapid growth of the consulting industry.
  • The three major trends in consulting correlated to this growth.
  • How these trends benefit you as a professional.

Related article: Consulting’s $500 Billion Future—And How It Benefits You – An in-depth look at the global workforce changes causing consulting’s growth, and how you can take advantage.

Estimated Time to Read: 4 minutes


The consulting and staffing industry is one of the largest, fastest growing markets in the world. In the next 5 years, the industry is expected to grow to exceed $500 billion.

If you’re a professional, this growth benefits you. Whatever your skills are, they translate to consulting, meaning there are high-paying opportunities opening up for you in the consulting sector every day.

In this article, we’re going to explore three key trends that are influencing this growth surge in the consulting industry, so that you can better understand your opportunities.

1. The “Freelancer Economy” Has Become The Consultant Economy

In 2016, 35% of the US workforce worked as freelancers, creating a freelance market worth $1 trillion.

This growth in freelance work is part of a trend that has been ongoing for years, particularly among creatives and skilled workers. However, for the first time, we’re seeing even high-level business jobs transition from full-time positions to contract work.

In the same way that many skilled workers and creatives found they were able to make more money as freelancers than as W-2 employees, a large number of business professionals are seizing the opportunity to grow their career and income as contracted consultants instead of full-time employees.

This growth in the number of independent consultants has created a giant talent pool of business professionals that companies can now access on an as-needed basis.

2. Companies Are Transitioning To Flexible Workforce Solutions

At least 48% of companies use flexible workforce solutions. The incentives for transitioning from large teams of full-time employees to flexible workforce solutions are simple:

  • Fewer full-time employees means lower overhead in terms of salaries, benefits, and liability.
  • Full-time employees are difficult to let go of—severance and due process are expensive—making workforces difficult to scale and adapt on demand.
  • All of these costs make hiring a full-time employee a much riskier proposition, disincentivizing businesses to grow and scale aggressively.

Companies want to grow and adapt quickly while mitigating risk. The best way for any company to do this is to embrace flexible workforce solutions, where they can hire the talent they need when they need it, and easily scale teams down when necessary.

This benefits you, because companies are able to launch new projects faster, meaning they need to hire more consultants for high-paying roles.

3. Staffing Firms Are Under Pressure To Increase Efficiency

The freelancer economy or the “gig economy” has historically been serviced by online marketplaces. If you’re looking for a virtual assistant or someone to deliver your groceries, using a freelance site like UpWork makes complete sense.

Businesses are understandably reticent, however, to hire $150 an hour consultants off of Fiverr.

Instead, large companies interested in employing flexible workforce solutions use staffing firms like Vaco—who have relationships with all of the top consultants in their industry—to build their consultant teams.

The spike in companies who want to use flexible workforce solutions has increased the pressure on staffing firms to hire top consultants and connect them with companies more efficiently. Software like BenchWatch was developed precisely for this reason.

As an experienced consultant, or someone just starting out, this is great for you.

The more efficiently staffing firms can execute, the easier it is for you to land work. You can be confident in the fact that from the moment you are contracted by a major staffing firm, you are going to be connected with only the projects that fit you perfectly.

The Consulting Market Is Only Going To Grow

All of these trends point to one fact: The consulting market is nowhere near done growing.

As the majority of the world’s businesses transition to flexible workforce solutions, nearly every professional looking to improve their career—both in terms of experience and income—is going  to do so by becoming an independent consultant.

The earlier you start consulting, the better positioned you’ll be for the coming opportunities.

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Are Big Consulting Firms Doomed?

By | Consulting Industry

Over the last century, the $425 billion consulting industry has been dominated by these firms:

  • Accenture (formerly Andersen Consulting)
  • Deloitte
  • PriceWaterhouseCoopers (PWC)
  • Ernst & Young (EY)
  • McKinsey & Company
  • Boston Consulting Group (BCG)
  • Bain & Company

Each of these companies has tens of thousands of employees, with fancy offices in virtually every major city around the globe.

They service the biggest corporations. They employ graduates from top MBA programs.

And yet, they are all being undercut by smaller, more specialized firms (I know because I own one).

Clients are realizing that they prefer working with niche firms, and they get more value. These smaller consulting firms are dominating. More than 70% of the consulting market is now comprised of firms between $500,000 to $5 million in revenue.

In the near future, big firms will struggle to compete, because they won’t be able to give clients what they need.

Here are five reasons why the consulting landscape is changing for the better.

1. Clients Want Specialization

The “old school” mentality was that consulting firms could do everything. Whatever problem you had, you just went to a major firm, and they could solve it. That didn’t work.

Clients no longer believe firms can do everything. They want firms that do a few things better than anyone else, and they don’t mind partnering with multiple firms to work on a project.

Think of this from a hiring perspective. No one wants to hire an employee who is “sort of good” at everything. They want to hire someone who is the best at one thing.

As I’ve written before: generalists don’t get hired, specialists do. The same holds true of consulting firms.

What clients tell us they hate more than anything, is hiring one massive firm who drops off 50 junior consultants with no real industry expertise—“generalists,” in other words—and they end up baby-sitting an expensive set of resources.

That was the dynamic with consulting firms for decades, but is easy to avoid now.

2. Clients Pay Less with Smaller Firms

Small and mid-size firms have a much leaner overhead structure. Most of them run on low-cost cloud technology (such as Office 365 and cloud-based time entry systems), lease little or no office space, and maintain a fit-for-purpose set of client-related insurance and bonds.

This means their back office requirements are minimal (and cheap!) and they can pass the savings along to the client. Often this translates to a 20-40% lower bill rate for the client. 

When a client hires a big firm, the massive overhead must be built into the bill rate. From the client’s perspective, this is completely unnecessary and adds no value.

3. Top Consultants Earn More at Smaller Firms

It is very easy for smaller firms to steal talent from big firms. When small or mid-size firms recruit consultants, it’s not uncommon to increase their compensation by 50-100%. Because they don’t have insane overhead costs, they can afford to pay their people more.

Where a traditional firm might pay a consultant $60 an hour ($100K salary plus benefits) while billing the client $200 an hour, small and mid-size firms can pay the consultant $100 an hour ($200K salary) while billing the client $130-140 an hour.

In other words, both sides win. The client saves 35%, and the consultant increases their compensation by 66%.

4. Consulting Is Finally Becoming Transparent

The consulting industry has been opaque for over a century. Firms worked within a “black box” where clients could only see the output, not the process that lead to it.

If the clients didn’t like the results, it was impossible for them to see where things went wrong.

Thankfully, for clients, this is changing.

Clients are now demanding to know more about the day-to-day execution of projects, in order to keep these consulting firms honest, and to catch issues before it’s too late.

Equipped with transparency and information to make good decisions, clients will typically hire smaller, specialized firms, where they get more talent at a lower cost.

Here’s a great article in Harvard Business Review called Consulting on the Cusp of Disruption that goes into detail on this topic.

5. It’s Easier Than Ever To Launch A Business

The last obstacle to disruption in the consulting industry was the high cost of entry.

In the past, it was expensive and difficult to go out on your own as a consultant or contractor. Now, it’s actually easier and more lucrative to be an independent contractor than it is to be an employee at a major firm.

Setting up a business used to take days, if not weeks, and it involved a team of professionals. Now you can register and launch a business by yourself, in under an hour, using tools like LegalZoom.

Finding clients used to feel impossible as an independent consultant. You had to network constantly, and rely solely on personal relationships to land new contracts.

Now, you can market yourself with LinkedIn and a resume. You can put this together in an afternoon, and high-quality consulting and staffing firms will find you.

There’s no barrier to entry anymore, and the upside is massive. Big consulting firms simply can’t compete, and as more consultants and contractors become aware of this, a tidal wave of people will strike out on their own.

In the future, the firms that support, engage, and staff independent consultants and contractors best, will be the firms that win. Because at the end of the day, clients only care about results, not the name of your firm

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Consulting’s $500 Billion Future – And How it Benefits You

By | Consulting Industry

What We’ll Cover in This Piece:

  • Size of the consulting and staffing industry – and why it’s experiencing explosive growth
  • How this industry growth benefits you
  • How to thrive as a modern consultant/contracto

Estimated Time to Read: 5-10 minutes


We spend a lot of time telling people how big and broad the consulting and staffing industry is, because there’s a misconception that it’s a lucrative career path—for a small handful of people.

This assumption couldn’t be further from the truth.

The reality is, consulting and contracting is one of the biggest industries in the world, growing at breakneck speed. Everyone we tell this to asks the same two questions:

  1. How big is the consulting and contracting industry? Combine the net worth of the NBA, NFL, NHL, and MLB, and you’re looking at a value of $147 billion. The consulting industry is worth $425 billion—roughly 3 times as much!
  2. How fast is consulting growing? The U.S. Bureau of Labor predicts the consulting industry will grow 6% in total over the next 5 years, exceeding $450 billion. They’re wrong. Consulting and staffing will grow at least twice that fast.

The reason for this explosive growth is simple:

In the very near future, nearly all professionals will be consultants or contractors.

If you understand what is powering this change, how you can benefit from it, and how you need to navigate the new market, then you can position yourself to take advantage of the greatest opportunity of your professional life.

What’s Behind Consulting’s Explosive Growth

On a very basic level, the reason for the growth of the consulting industry is simple: companies need more consultants and contractors, in a wider variety of roles, than ever before. This is true and obvious to anyone in the corporate world.

However, to really understand the pace at which the consulting industry is growing, you need to understand a greater economic trend.

For the last 70 or so years, your professional career was defined by your company. You started off at an entry level position, and worked your way up.

You didn’t trade services for money, you traded time. Your company signed you to a full-time deal, gave you a salary, and you gave them your time in return. This model worked very well for a long time, and helped create a lot of America’s prosperity in the 20th century.

But that same model has stopped working for companies for a number of reasons:

  1. The pace of change has accelerated. It is well known that business moves faster now than at any time in history – and this is only increasing with new technology and evolving market forces. Companies need much more flexibility and nimbleness to be able to adapt and thrive.
  2. Bloated workforces cripple a company’s finances. With the traditional full-time model, companies cannot expand and contract to meet demand. A company’s workforce, and therefore personnel costs, remain static while their revenue fluctuates.
  3. Firing full-time employees is expensive. One of our clients recently had to let go of over 1,000 employees. Each of those employees received 12 months of salary as part of their severance package. That high price tag makes it very hard for companies to be flexible and adapt their workforce to their needs.In order to achieve the adaptability that the traditional full-time employee model prevents, companies are turning to flexible workforce solutions, or FWSs. These are solutions that run most of a company’s operations through a team of contractors or consultants, while a small core of full-time employees oversees the entire company.

Workforce of the (Not So Distant) Future

consulting industry workforce diagrams

This transition is changing the makeup of the workforce. Companies in the near future are going to have very few full-time employees, but will in turn need access to a lot of consultants.In turn, professionals who today are full-time employees at different companies and firms are almost all going to be private contractors or consultants.

How The Growth of Consulting & Contracting Benefits You?

The growth of the consulting and staffing industry benefits everyone, and even if you aren’t currently a contractor, you probably will be very soon.

There’s some common confusion around what a consultant or contractor actually does. Most people hear the term “consultant” and think of management consultants – the consultants who are paid for high-level strategy and analysis.

Only 5% of consultants are hired to do that sort of high-level strategic planning. The other 95% are hired to execute in specific roles, from overseeing an entire project, to basic administrative and accounting work.

As a modern professional, this means you’re either currently a contractor or you will be in the future. In both cases the growth of this industry affects you. And if you prepare right, it benefits you tremendously.

1. Current Consultants Are About to Earn More

The math is simple. Companies are shedding their full time workforce, and thus will need more consultants and contractors than ever before. The increase in demand means more jobs and better pay.

Why better pay? The main reason is supply and demand. Consulting and staffing firms simply cannot hire quick enough. I see this even at my own consulting firm. I have far more work than I have quality consultants to give it to, and I spend a large percentage of my time looking for talented new consultants to bring onto my staff.

2. Future Consultants Will Be Able to Jump Right In

The widespread adoption of flexible workforce solutions is opening up consulting and contractor positions in a variety of roles. Whatever profession you work in, some company is going to need a consultant or contractor with your skills and services.

Technology is also making it incredibly easy to find work as a new consultant. Using services like BenchWatch, you can profile your skills and put yourself on the radar of a multiple companies immediately, ready to be hired.

Instead of building a network slowly over years, you can make yourself easily discoverable to anyone who requires your expertise.

But regardless of whether you’re a future or current consultant, this rosy future relies on one thing: Your ability to navigate modern technology and the current employment market.

How to Thrive as a Modern Consultant/Contractor

Success as a professional used to come down to working your way into a good company, and grinding your way up the ladder for 30 years. It was that simple.

Those days are coming to a close. As I talked about before, the lifelong job is over. As a modern consultant or contractor, your success is contingent on two things: positioning and visibility.

1. How to Position Yourself as a Consultant or Contractor

Positioning yourself as a consultant or contractor is about narrowing down your particular field, and proving that you are the expert in it. There are three steps you need to take to do this right:

  1. Define your niche. A lot of consultants and contractors struggle with this. They want to show clients they’re the best at everything. The problem is, no one is the best at everything, but everyone can be the best at something. Figure out what that something is for you.
  2. Build your resume. This doesn’t just mean pick a pretty template and list all of your jobs. Be very specific about listing the skills, experience, and references that apply directly to your niche and give you an advantage over your competition.
  3. Update your LinkedIn. These days, potential clients are going to look at your LinkedIn before they ever ask to see a resume. LinkedIn lets you make your expertise a matter of public knowledge, and its endorsements give a level of social proof that will help you.

Once you’ve positioned yourself as the expert in your niche, it’s time to make yourself visible to the entire market.

2. How to Maximize Your Visibility

Whereas positioning is about building up your profile with credentials and endorsements, visibility is about projecting that profile out into the world. You need to do two things to make yourself visible in the modern consulting and staffing market:

  1. Register with Consulting and Staffing Firms. There is no easier way to get hired than to show consulting and staffing firms that you are available. BenchWatch and other systems like eRecruit and Bullhorn make this easy for you. Firms manage their database of consultants using these systems – and if they can easily see that you are available with the right skills, they will present you to their clients.
  2. Set up a personal website. Having your own website outside of LinkedIn or any other social platforms gives you complete control of how you present yourself, and it showcases a higher level of professionalism. It’s also incredibly easy to do with services like Squarespace.

There are other things you can do to increase your visibility. You can write a book, produce content, attend meetups, and much more. All of those things, however, take a big commitment of time and money.

Why Trust Will Always Be at The Core of Hiring

While almost everything about the consulting landscape is changing, one thing isn’t: trust.

Trust will always form the foundation of any professional relationship, whether the relationship involves full-time employees or consultants/contractors.

As the demand for consultants and contractors explodes, so too does the pool of available talent. Companies simply don’t have the resources to sift through all the consultants and contractors in the market and build relationships with the very best. They need a trust agent to help them figure out who they can rely on.

As a consultant or contractor, you need to find the channels and institutions that your potential clients are using to find people they can trust. Connecting with these trust brokers is going to be the key to your success. For the foreseeable future, advanced staffing firms are those brokers of trust. Powered by technology like BenchWatch, eRecruit, Dynamics, and Bullhorn, they are the only way companies can hire trustworthy consultants at scale.

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“Job Security” Is Dead—And That’s A Good Thing

By | Consulting Industry, Professional Development

What We’ll Cover in This Piece:

  • The disappearance of “job security” in the modern professional landscape.
  • The economic factors driving job security away.
  • How all of these forces benefit you.

Related article: Consulting’s $500 Billion Future – And How it Benefits You – Consulting is one the largest industries in the world, and it is growing at one of the fastest rates. There is no better opportunity for professionals like you, you just have to know how to take advantage.

Estimated Time to Read: 5 minutes


Many professionals experience a particular kind of anxiety—a kind of nagging suspicion that their job just isn’t a career in the same way their parents’ were.

They’re right.

A modern professional has almost nothing in common with a professional from fifty years ago.

In previous generations, professionals joined a company in their twenties, and worked there till they retired, taking promotions and raises at regular intervals.

Now, the median 34-year old professional has spent just over three years in their current job.

Our concept of job security is a relic from an age of business that no longer exists. In order to succeed in the current professional landscape, you have to understand why job security is a myth, and how our new economic reality benefits you.

Why “Job Security” As We Knew It Is Over

Job security, as a concept, relies on one fundamental assumption: If a company has room for you now, they will have room for you in the future.

For decades, that was the case. For the modern professional, however, it is completely untrue.

We’ve talked about this before, but companies are shrinking the number of full-time employees on their payroll by using flexible workforce solutions (FWS). Jobs that used to be done by a full-time employee are now done by consultants, whose contracts end as soon as the project is over.

There are many benefits to this model for employers, including:

  • Hiring and onboarding costs are lowered drastically, as staffing firms handle sourcing and contracting consultants for employers.
  • Contracting consultants on an as-needed basis allows companies to be flexible, and aggressive, in their spending and growth.
  • The infrastructure overhead necessary for managing a massive workforce is no longer needed.

No severance packages, no paying salaries for under-utilized employees, and no hiring costs. With all of these incentives, employers have no choice but to use flexible workforce solutions.

This means that virtually all full-time positions are at risk of being replaced. The notion of “job security” no longer exists.

That should make you happy.

Why This Change Should Make You Happy

Professionals who fear the lack of job security in today’s market are looking at their careers wrong.

When you are a full-time employee, you are not secure—you are completely dependent. All of your work comes from one employer, and if that employer ever decides to take away your job, you have to reinvent yourself with a new company.

As an independent consultant, you can receive work from any employer in the world. If one employer doesn’t have work for you at a given moment, another will. As an independent consultant, your only limiting factors are your skills and your time—things you are in complete control of.

You can take as much or as little work as you want, knowing that there are always more projects that need consultants, and because you’re being paid a higher hourly bill rate, you’ll end up making more money.

Less reliance on a single employer, more income overall, and complete control over your career.

That sounds better than “job security.”

You’re A Qualified Consultant Whether You Know It Or Not

As workforces shrink, there are simply fewer and fewer full-time positions left. Everyone is aware of this change, but many professionals are still afraid to make the jump into consulting.

They mistakenly believe that being a consultant means developing an entirely new set of business skills, learning how to advise CEOs of Fortune 100 companies.

The reality is that if you’re a professional, you have skills that translate directly to consulting. There are administrative assistants billing at $75 an hour as consultants—roughly $150,000 a year—because they know their niche and articulate it well.

If you’re a professional, you qualify to be a consultant, you just need to translate your skills into a consulting-friendly resume.

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