Consulting Consultants: What’s Your Skillset?

What’s your skillset?  This is a question you will be asked time and time again as a consultant.  Every potential new client, every sales man in your company who’s job it is to keep you billing, even your collegues; they all as the same question.  Depending on your company’s goals (or your own if you are self-employed) will determine the kind of skillset you have.  Several consulting firms want people to be deeply specialized while others need someone to know “a little about a lot” without any depth in most of the knowledge.

While we have talked about specialization in the past, it is not exactly related to your skill set (but most often is).  Having a skill set is not neccesarily a specialization.  Understanding your skillset can really help you land clients and keep you billing.  If you are working for a consultant firm, it can help its sales follk sell you to their clients.

What is a Skillset

A skillset is like you own personal toolbox.  In construction you have guys that specialize in concrete, sawing, and even high buildings work.  Each has their own set of tools for their specific task.  You as a consultant will have your own toolset that you developed overtime.  If you are a business anyalist, you might have some BPM tools you use.  If you work in data warehousing, you might understand Oracle and Microsoft SQL Server and all tools associated with those platforms.  If you are a developer, you probably undestand C#, Java, and even Python.

Every job you encounter will require something from your toolbox (skillset).  Everyone utilizes different skills throughout their career.  For example, I do C# development but I also have a lot of experience in data management/mapping in SQL Server.  So as a result I’m a developer who also has a large amount of database experience.  Those are my current skillsets.

What is Your Skillset

What I ecourage you to do, if you haven’t already is write down every tool, platform, language, operating system, and technology you have every used, played with, developed in/on, and even studied.  Take that list and order it in descending order where your experience is.  For example if developing in C# is where you have the most experience put it at the top.  Once you have this list in order of experience the top 3-5 (depending on your experience in them) is your skillset.  This is what you should be telling people your skillset is when they ask you.

This is important because that list of 3-5 items will tell you how to market yourself or determine how others can market you to get you billing on project (ie get you paid).  I encourage you do review this list once a year.  If it changes, be sure to let those that need to know, know about the change in skillset.  The more up to date those people are, the better your work experience will be.

Expanding Your Skillset

Next week, we will look at ways to expand your skillset because going over it here will cause this post to become extremely long.  But a good start would be books.  Reading up on a new skill is a great start in acquiring that skill.  But we will look into this more next week.

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4 Responses to Consulting Consultants: What’s Your Skillset?

  1. Jared314 says:

    There is also the skill elimination step. In cases of declining marketability or career-path adjustment you do not want some skills in your public skill set.

  2. Michael Koby says:

    This is very true. As technologies change, moving items out of your primaryskillset is a common task. VB6 would be a perfect example of this.

  3. Jared314 says:

    There is also the skill elimination step. In cases of declining marketability or career-path adjustment you do not want some skills in your public skill set.

  4. Michael Koby says:

    This is very true. As technologies change, moving items out of your primaryskillset is a common task. VB6 would be a perfect example of this.

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