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How to get a job in IT consulting

Howard Baldwin | Feb. 18, 2016
Whether it's for a global giant like Deloitte or Capgemini or a small boutique firm, working as an IT consultant is never dull. Here's how to nab a coveted position.

Wanted: Hot skills, broad experience, strategic vision

What skills are consulting firms looking for in their hires? Think of it this way: Enterprises don't engage consulting firms to handle the projects they can do themselves; they bring in consultants when they need short-term expertise in cutting-edge areas that would be hard to hire for.

That means IT pros who are highly skilled in in-demand technologies will rise to the top of the resume pile when consulting firms look to fill out their rosters.

"Are you up-to-speed in the latest technologies?" asks Reed, citing areas such as analytics, mobility, security and the cloud. "Can you show you're keeping eyes and ears on them, continuing your education with seminars and trade association events?"

Mercer's Rajan looks at a candidate's project experience. "What opportunities have the candidates had? I know what the complex projects are. Each one is a test, and the fact that someone was selected to be on a team that tackled something difficult" is evidence, he says, that someone would be a good hire.

Other positives include certifications, whether in specific technical areas, or in leadership areas such as project management. Even failure is fodder. As Deloitte's Meyer notes, she wants to hear how candidates collaborated when a project went sour, or how they managed to reel in a project that had developed scope creep.

Hiring managers stress that experience in more than just one technology is most meaningful these days. Kate Savage, vice president and North America people supply chain leader for Capgemini, started there as a consultant herself in 1998. She says the consultancy market has shifted over the last two to three years. Enterprises aren't focusing solely on technology implementations.

"They're looking for end-to-end solutions, someone to help them understand everything that's going on in their business and how [solutions are] going to help them go to market better." As a result, she argues, consultants (like CIOs) have to be able to implement multiple technologies as well as understand the culture and buying behavior of any given industry.

PwC's Verweij concurs that there has been a shift toward business-savvy skills. "Traditionally, technology consulting was dominated by engineering skills. But working with technology has become easier in terms of how you implement and integrate it. That's not to say [technology] isn't demanding, but applying business context requires creative talent as much as pure technical talent."

Gerard Verweij, U.S. technology consulting leader for PricewaterhouseCoopers, says business-savvy technologists are in highest demand.

For example, he cites the importance of creativity in designing user interfaces on mobile devices — technologists need to understand not just the programming aspects, but how users will work with the software. (For more on what hiring managers value in would-be consultants, see Crossing over to consulting.)

 

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