It is the period of the year when many people are re-evaluating their career, and looking for a new beginning.

I am not talking about that long overdue gym membership but the opportunity to land your dream job in consulting. Some people assume that you need to have many years of work experience to qualify as a consultant. Depending on your focus and industry, this can be true, but not essential. If you have either very strong natural consulting skills or very specialized expertise, you can still act in a consulting role even if you can count the number of years you have been in the workforce on one hand.

Great consultants are able to step into ambiguous, sometimes hostile situations and sense what changes need to be made. Great consultants are driven by ideas and a strong desire to have a positive impact on clients.

If you want to start a career in consulting, it might be helpful to take a look at the 5 tips below. This is a starting point to build your future career either in one of the Big Four, or in a smaller boutique.

There’s No Substitute for Hard Work

It may sound obvious but if you want to get a career in consulting you should realise the immense work ethic that is necessary to succeed. What you get out is directly linked to what you put in. Development never stops. Hard work also will mean you will never feel like you left anything on the floor and you will feel satisfied that you did your best work.

You should not be scared to use those around you also, don’t be ashamed to steal, copy and emulate your peers (just make sure you always attribute). Your colleagues will be best learning tools, many of them possess brilliant consulting capabilities.

Soft Skills Are Equal to Hard skills

Hard skills are the bedrock of your job, you need to have the background and knowledge before anyone will look at you – but it is only half of what you need to succeed. Both hard and soft skills are vital to succeed.

Communication, self-motivation, leadership and time management are just as important as hard skills. People with an extensive range of technical skills can struggle to perform to the best of their abilities if they lack interpersonal skills. Assuming you have done your studying and reading don’t be hesitant to put the same effort into improving your soft skills. You can develop these attending specific training courses and many people don’t realise they can be learned and improved upon.

You Won’t Succeed Alone

While it’s a competitive profession, a lack of teamwork shouldn’t be tolerated. If you show you can collaborate, influence and compromise you will be highly valued. Also, it is vital to encourage and inspire other team members to perform better, and more importantly, to develop the ability to compromise and ignore your own ego.

Make others look good and others will make you look good. Your team will appreciate you much more when you learn to compromise and ignore a persistent ego too.

The Client Always Comes First

“Have the courage and the content to speak up, have an opinion, a point of view” says Ashley. If you want to be the best consultant you can be, you have to make sure to have the unique suggestions that a client expects.

Clients don’t want to hear what they already know; they expect you to add value. You need to provide useful and unique suggestions. Don’t be afraid to give a strong opinion either, your clients want to know what you think, because that what they’re paying you for.

It’s a Free Market, You Are a Brand

Be additive, not dilutive. While imperfect, forces of supply and demand are at work. If you can create yourself as a brand, then you will have a better opportunity to be selected for a job. Make sure you show that you will be definitely adding something to any team. If you can follow 1-4 this final one should fall into place and you will be the high flying consultant you dream of before you can say “What is a cross trainer?”