Getting Into Consulting Requires A New Mindset

Feb 27, 2014 12:00:00 AM · by David Kushan

Most people who get into Healthcare IT consulting come from a career spent, primarily, in hospital IT or informatics departments. By the time they seriously explore such a career move, they have five-plus years of industry experience and have worked for multiple organizations. 

One of the challenges these people face when switching to consulting is understanding the different mindset required to feel satisfied and be successful in their new career path — as opposed to the perspectives and decision-making process commonly associated with a more traditional career path.

Recently, I read an article in the Harvard Business Review, “Headhunters Reveal What Candidates Want," in which the author explains that he interviewed several search consultants, looking for answers to the following questions:

  • What do executives look for in new employers?
  • How does a company become a destination for talent in the aftermath of the financial crisis?

Now, the article doesn’t specifically address the healthcare industry and it describes feedback primarily from “executives,” who constitute only a portion of the people moving into Healthcare IT consulting with whom our firm works. Still, what caught my attention is the similarity of responses to what I’ve heard over the years when working with people making career transitions from one hospital to another. Which is why I point to this article — to illustrate how certain thinking, although logical in the traditional career path, needs to be modified when evaluating consultancy engagements.

On a day-to-day basis, consultants work directly with their clients. In my experience, many of them evaluate potential clients the same way they evaluate career job opportunities. In the article, the author mentions how one search consultant said that many job candidates may “accept a less-than-perfect job if it is in a sound industry and at a firm with a track record of success, even if the role is only 60-70 percent of what they are ideally looking for.”

This phrasing is in line with weighing factors to determine what’s best. When doing so, here’s the challenge: You have to understand that evaluating what makes for a “good” traditional career move can be quite different from deciding what makes for a “good” client.

As a consultant with a consulting firm, you’ll look for clients with which you can have an impact and really make a difference. Frequently, clients with which you can have the greatest impact are organizations with the largest number of issues. Basically, their issues consist of creating problems that need to be solved. This is where a consulting firm, and someone considering joining a consulting firm as an employee, can seize a tremendous opportunity. For the employee who values a stable situation, however, this type of organization will appear to be unstable and, therefore, unattractive.

My point is that a shift in mindset can make a crucial difference in outcome, and it’s essential for a successful consulting career. Looking at an organization with issues and recognizing the issues that you, as an expert, are able to solve is the point at which every person considering getting into consulting must begin to evaluate their options.

You may also like: Why Join a Consulting Firm?



General, Consulting, David Kushan


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