Answering the Demand for Different Types of Consultants: Starting Your Career in This Field


Demand is high for a number of different types of consultants. In fact, 57 per cent of CFOs polled in a recent Robert Half Management Resources survey who said they plan to bring in consultants expect them to be for finance and accounting projects.

Consultants enjoy greater flexibility in working hours and a stimulating diversity of work environments, projects and positions. They are rewarded with pay commensurate with their experience. Working on a project basis provides a way to apply both your expertise and soft skills on diverse assignments for a variety of employers.

These positions require specialized business or accounting acumen, such as knowledge of tax rules or federal reporting requirements. Many projects also call for very specific experience: For example, a project may need a consultant who can implement IT systems within a specific organizational domain.

So how do you become a project consultant and what types of consultants are needed?

Start a search

You can start on your own finding new opportunities by searching online for jobs incorporating keywords related to your experience and goals. You are likely to have greater success if you also work with a staffing firm that specializes in placing senior-level accounting and finance professionals in project roles. They are well-versed in the latest hiring and salary trends for these positions and have connections in the local market that can significantly shorten your hunt for employment.

Suited for finance?

Experience in payroll, accounts receivable and tax accounting are great baselines for moving into interim jobs. If you have skills in public accounting or business analysis, you can try out a potential long-term employer as a finance consultant. You might even fit the bill as an interim CFO if you have senior-level experience and have been responsible for business unit finances or involved in mergers and acquisitions.

Understand the analyst spectrum

Business systems analysts with expertise in planning or deploying ERP systems and backgrounds in finance and accounting are frequently engaged on a project basis. Positions range from those appealing to "communicators" who excel in facilitating project work across functional groups and "doers" who can implement business solutions through coding and configuration.

Highlight your communication and client interaction skills, as well as your experience with business applications like PeopleSoft, Microsoft Dynamics GP or Sage 50 Accounting. If your background is technical in nature, call out your application and software development expertise and your familiarity with SQL queries, EssBase or COGNOS Report Studio Analysis.

Help minimize risks

A background in accounting, business administration, economics or mathematics can give you an edge for risk management consulting. Organizations needing to engage this type of interim professional also prize quantitative and critical-thinking skills. If you have significant auditing, compliance program or fraud examination experience, give this category of consulting a closer look.

Go beyond the "title"

If the subject of a job posting seems general, look closer. Take a few minutes to scan it for keywords related to your training and experience. Otherwise, you might miss a change management consultant or project consultant opportunity because you were looking for Oracle or ERP in the title.

Contact us if you need help sorting out which consulting roles are right for you.