I have been working in the Technology/Talent space in Canada for the past 13 years. I love it! It is an ever-changing scene — new technologies pop up monthly. Many are fads and disappear, while some stay and become a trend, evolve and make their way into enterprise environments.
About a year and a half ago, I wrote about How to Stand out as an IT Consultant, which focused on the job search and included specific tips to differentiate yourself during the job search and in interviews. In this post, I want to itemize the keys to a successful career as an IT consultant.
Success has a different meaning to different people. To some, it could be growth and promotion, while to others it means hitting a specific $X Salary/Rate, working for a big name brand or opening their own start-up.
Regardless of the definition, here are my thoughts on the key elements to success in IT Consulting:
Specialty/Niche: IT consulting is all about Specialties. Above and beyond the primary skills required for the job such as design/development or project management, there are other aspects to the role that you should plan, prepare and strategize for:
INDUSTRY (Fintec, Telco, Gaming…) Do you have any prior knowledge, experience or feelings towards an industry? Do any of their products/services feel close to home for you? Which one do you care for more than others? The closer you feel to the product and offering the least it will feel like a chore/work.
SIZE (Enterprise, Midsize, Start-up…) With different sizes come different cultures. Where do you see yourself fit in best? Do you care for a foosball table in the lounge? Or do you like to work in a team of 50? Some do, some don’t. Put some extra thoughts into what you target and what you can bring to any of those environments.
PROJECT (Development, Migration, Compliance, Operations…) This is a no brainer. Candidates who have had a project focus throughout their career are often preferred over candidates that have a bit of everything.
Life time Learning: The Tech Industry evolves fast, sometimes too fast for its own good! Think about your niche. Is it going to be applicable/relevant 5 years from now? How often does it get upgraded? Are you keeping up to date? How are you setting yourself up to make sure that you are marketable if/when that tech is being phased out? And yes, there are folks out there who still work with CICS/COBOL but how many technologies are out there that last that long?! Try to name another technology you are using that’s 49 years old!
Network: As a Consultant/IT Professional you need to network all the time. As you never know:
When your contract could abruptly end; or,
If you are standing in front of the next hiring manager!
As a Consultant you need to invest in your brand and network. You should aim to leave a great taste with every client you work with, as they can be your next clients’ neighbour! As well, you need to build a relationship with multiple recruiters because not all agencies/recruiters work on the same types of clients/opportunities.
Being an IT Consultant means that you are a business owner and always have an eye out in the market to see what is out there, as everything has an end date attached to it.
Hustle should never end!