Many people crave order and stability in their work lives, but some people march to a different drummer altogether. They thrive on special assignments, changes in routine and even living in a different place for months at a time. Once they've been in the same job for a year or two, they find themselves wondering, "Is this all there is?" If you're that type of person, life as a project consultant might appeal to you.
Financial project consultants are experienced professionals hired to work on special initiatives, fill staffing gaps and take on interim leadership roles. They offer companies of all sizes and in all industries the deep knowledge and broader outlook that comes from extensive experience in the field. And they often make a full-time career from a frequently changing roster of assignments.
The roles of project consultants differ, but they all share some key advantages.
When you're a project consultant, each assignment you take gives you a chance to tackle new problems and work with new people. You also have an opportunity to share your expertise in a multitude of situations rather than just one, as would be the case in a full-time job for the same employer.
Making a difference
Top executives frequently rely on project consultants to help them improve business performance and work toward a more profitable future. In many organizations, a new assignment or method might pose difficulties for the existing — and uninitiated — in-house staff. Project consultants who have worked on similar assignments in the past come in to lead the project efficiently and cost-effectively, saving the company the money it would have paid in overtime to full-time staff as they climb a learning curve. It also saves employees a measure of stress and burnout. Project consultants can take on roles with a high level of influence, such as accounting manager, senior accountant or even CFO.
Brightening your future
The best specialized staffing agencies not only offer project consultants more job possibilities but they also offer online skills training programs. In addition, larger staffing firms often have established alliances with a variety of professional organizations, enhancing project consultants' networking and professional development opportunities. Moreover, some staffing firms may provide candidate benefits, which can make it easier to consider consulting as an alternative to a full-time job.
For project consultants, the demand is particularly strong in five key disciplines:
- Finance and accounting
- Business systems and performance improvement
- Governance, risk and compliance (GRC)
- Financial-cycle optimization
Some industries, such as finance, tend to be cyclical and have more opportunities at certain times of year. On the other hand, a startup firm might need someone to help develop its accounting system and financial statements for the very first time.
Companies also hire tax, payroll, audit, financial planning and revenue recognition specialists, among others, for key projects such as streamlining outsourcing processes. Consultants also readily find work in staff augmentation and interim management roles. Project consultants can encounter a steady stream of well-paid — and interesting — opportunities.