Consultant is a magic word, isn't it? You can slap it behind any title and there you go, suddenly that person is perceived as an important expert. Someone with deep knowledge in a certain area, someone you can ask for advice because, well, they should be able to consult on that topic...
One thing that becomes more and more clear nowadays is that, unfortunately, a lot of those so-called Consultants, have long forgotten the meaning behind the word.
Consulting isn't and has never been a "one size fits all" process. In order to consult, you need to have actually gained experience in various aspects of a specific area. You also need to be willing to work closely with others, which means open communication, open-mindedness and open to collaboration. Let's put this in perspective - let's say you are a Recruitment Consultant (shocking example, right ). Be honest now, the first thing that comes to your mind is a pushy salesperson trying to convince you to take a new job, offering you something that doesn't even fit you, or you simply don't want. Where is the consulting in that? Let me tell you - it is non-existent.
Real communication requires listening and Stephen R. Covey said it best in his book "The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People: Powerful Lessons in Personal Change"
“Most people do not listen with the intent to understand; they listen with the intent to reply.”
I have been doing this for quite a while now, and I still don't consider myself an absolute know-it-all expert. There is always something to learn, right? But through the years, if there is one thing that I have been trying to deliver to the amazing talent and clients I have had the pleasure of working with, it has been to listen. Listen actively, in order to understand, and once I see the real need, the pain points and dreams for the future, only then can I offer my humble advice. That is what consulting truly means to me. It is personal, and it requires effort and time, that not everyone is willing to invest...
Which is why you should be careful who you entrust with that information and with your time when it comes to representing your needs.
To help you identify that person think about this: What is your gut saying? Do you believe they get you? Do they know their market, industry? Are they being real with you?
Sometimes there are facts you don't want to hear but if they don't sugarcoat it for you, you are on the right track - that means they respect you and value honesty. Finally, are they there for you, when you need them (and not just pushing your CV anywhere they can, hoping someone will bite)? From presenting the opportunity, throughout the interview process and right to the offer, if your consultant is not there every step of the way... why would you even need them?
What do you think consulting really means? Curious to hear more opinions!