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Don’t Hire a Consultant Unless They Have These 5 Qualities

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September 4, 2020
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5 minutes
Experienced copywriter who spends a lot of money at restaurants and regrets it later.

What makes an ideal consultant? Is it a big brand name? A master’s degree from a prestigious university? Or maybe someone that your friend recommends for your business?

Well, the reality is, all these factors have nothing to do with how good a consultant is. Sure, business owners are willing to pay top dollar for big brands. And it’s true that decision-makers will likely hire a consultant if their associate recommends them. But is there a better way?

The advent of online consulting marketplaces has made it extremely convenient for businesses to choose the top consultant from a list of hundreds, that too at a reasonable price. But there’s a catch—businesses need to look beyond the known horizon. They should be willing to work as a consultant that’s best for them.

In this article, we’ll discuss the top five consultant qualities you need to look for. This applies to consultants from big brands as well as the ones that are relatively unknown, yet as competent as the former.

1. Openness to Feedback

This is a rare consultant quality. Giving feedback to someone might be simple, but receiving feedback can be really tough sometimes. The consulting marketplace has enabled companies to hire top consultants with ease. However, being a client of the consultant, every company has the right to ask them questions and point out loopholes in their recommendations. That’s why you should hire a consultant who’s open to receiving feedback.

When your freelance consulting platform recommends a few consultants to you, the first thing you should do is check out testimonials of their previous clients. Look for the part where they’ve mentioned the consultant’s personal attributes and find out the following: Were they fun to work with? Were they collaborative with others? Did they take feedback positively?

Another way to test this is to ask them about their thoughts on receiving feedback before you even hire them. After all, it’s your company and it’s you who’s investing money into this consulting engagement. But rest assured, a top consultant is secure with their talent and won’t hesitate to hear your opinion about their work.

"The most fundamental thing about leadership is to have the humility to continue to get feedback and to try to get better – because your job is to try to help everybody else get better." – Jim Yong Kim

2. Calmness under Pressure

This is a must-have prerequisite for every consultant. Throughout your engagement, there will be several situations when composure and rational thinking will save the day. Imagine this: you hire a consultant to plan the big Christmas sale and you work on it together for three months. Then just one day before Christmas, when everyone’s on holiday, Facebook sends you an email to communicate that the text in your ad is too big and pauses the ad. Oh-uh.

In situations like these, a consultant’s calmness under pressure is tested. In the consulting marketplace, you’ll find top consultants who have several case studies on how they dealt with a similar high-pressure situation. Or better yet, when you visit a freelance consulting platform, ask their representative to specifically connect you with someone who has a proven track record of working in fast-paced environments.

When you’re going to commence a project that is likely to be difficult, it’s best to bring an experienced consultant on board beforehand. Wrong decisions taken under pressure can cost your company a lot of money and time. As the saying goes: “Prevention is better than cure.” So it’s advisable to prevent an unfortunate situation by hiring a consultant who has handled tough business situations before.

3. Honesty and Straightforwardness

Dishonesty and false promises can turn very ugly in the workplace. This applies to your engagement with a freelance consultant as well. For example, a medium-sized business hires a consultant to improve their local search rankings on Google.

The consultant finds out that only a handful of the company’s customers are using Google. As it’s based in a small town and people would rather do business with the people they already know (instead of using Google). Now, the consultant has two choices—either tell the decision-makers that this whole ‘local search ranking’ project is pointless, or create a generic copy-pasted SEO strategy and charge thousands of euros.

The latter is when dishonesty can prove to be costly and stressful. Fortunately, a consulting marketplace allows you to choose from hundreds of consultants simply with a few clicks. That’s why companies have the flexibility to choose the most reliable and straightforward consultant from a giant pool.

4. Willingness to Learn

When it comes to consulting, the strategies that work now might be redundant in the future. That’s why you should hire a consultant who constantly keeps up with new trends and is an avid reader (and writer) of case studies.

When you ask an Agile consultant about the latest, state-of-the-art project management software, they should have the answer. When you ask a Google Ads consultant about the new changes in Google’s online ads policy, they should be able to explain it to you in detail.

The consulting marketplace is very competitive and good consultants need to stay on top of the latest developments in their industry. That’s when the willingness to learn comes in handy. When companies visit a freelance consulting platform to hire a consultant, it is usually because they want to fill a skill gap or get external expertise. And no one can become an expert without the willingness to learn, try, fail, and repeat. Hence, this consultant quality is a must.

5. Enthusiasm

When a consultant is insanely enthusiastic about their industry, it means that they enjoy the work they do. They will produce the best results for your company. Not to mention this enthusiasm will help you both if things go south. Throughout your engagement, there might be times when everything won’t go your way. This is when passion and enthusiasm will help the consultant to continue putting in the work.

So if they need to collect new data and redo the whole analysis, they’ll do it with a smile on their face. If they have to work hand in hand with the internal staff to implement recommendations and make sure everything is perfect before the engagement ends, they’ll do it happily. The consulting marketplace is filled with such high-energy consultants, and luckily, they aren’t as hard to find as they used to before.


Of course, there are a lot more consultant qualities and personal traits, such as leadership, patience, and communication skills. However, the ones mentioned in this article are very common among great internal employees as well as external consultants. If this article was to be summarized in one sentence, it would be this: Trustworthy experts who are open to receiving feedback and stay calm under pressure are the best consultants a company can hire. All you need to do is visit an online consulting platform and find yours.