If you're looking for professional challenges that offer both variety and flexibility, you might consider becoming a consultant. Consulting careers in finance and accounting provide a range of benefits. And our data show that, increasingly, companies are looking for accounting and finance professionals with specialized skills to lend their expertise to a wide range of projects.
How in demand are consultants?
The 21st century just may be a "golden age" for consulting careers. In a Robert Half Management Resources survey of chief financial officers (CFOs), 55 percent said they will require consultants for general finance and accounting services in the coming year. Some plan to outsource more specialized work, such as taxation (45 percent) and risk, governance and compliance (50 percent). More than half of CFOs surveyed — 61 percent — said they plan to bring in outside help to improve overall performance and business systems, reflecting the increasing demand in particular for business system analysts.
Is consulting for me?
One of the big draws of consulting work — and an example of the flexibility it offers — is the variety of assignments you may see. Through consulting careers, professionals can gain exposure to many companies and industries. For many, that can be a refreshing change from working a familiar, if not predictable, full-time job. This exposure also allows you to build your network and client relationships, which can lead to repeat business — vital to most successful consulting careers.
One key decision to make if you plan to consult is whether you will work with a staffing firm that offers project consulting career services or attempt to strike out on your own and establish your own business. Flying solo can be rewarding, but it is also hard work, especially when you're just starting out and have few, if any, clients.
Working with a well-established staffing firm is another way to take advantage of consulting's flexibility. These firms give consulting candidates the ability to pick and choose their assignments. If the duration or timing of a project opportunity doesn't suit your schedule or your desire to consult on a part-time basis, you're under no obligation to accept the assignment. This may not be possible if you strike out on your own.
Other benefits of working with a reputable staffing firm include:
- Career path guidance — You can rely on experienced staffing experts to place you in roles best suited to your skills and experience as you transition to a consulting career.
- Fast placements — Just jumping into consulting is hard, but if you work with a staffing firm, you're likely to have faster access to rewarding assignments with leading employers.
- Greater exposure — Large, reputable staffing firms can present you with opportunities to expand your career horizons by working on projects at companies or in industries you hadn't previously considered.