The Complete Guide to International Consulting

The international consulting field offers huge potential. This guide will introduce you to the consulting world, explore the different types of  consultant jobs and learn the skills and marketing knowledge you need to establish and grow a successful consulting business.

What is an International Consultant?


An international consultant is a professional who provides expert advice to businesses and organisations in other countries. Your job is to help these entities solve problems and improve their operations. There are many different types of consulting jobs and most of them involve helping organisations with strategic planning, business development, marketing, financial management, human resources, or information technology. Consulting is a great career choice if you are interested in travel and working with different types of business. It is also a good option if you want to be your own boss and work independently.  


How to become an international consultant?


There is no one specific path to becoming an international consultant. However, most people in this field have a bachelor's degree in business, economics, or another related field. In the absence of formal qualifications, many have relevant experience working in management or consulting roles. It would be very difficult to start consulting if you are just beginning your career or venturing into another field. This is because you do need a certain level of expertise to work effectively in this role.


If you are interested in becoming an international consultant, there are a few things you can do to increase your chances of success. First, consider getting a master's degree in business administration or another relevant field. This will give you the knowledge and skills you need to be successful in this career. Second, try to get some experience working in consulting or another related field. This will help you understand the industry and learn the necessary skills. Third, network with other professionals. This will help you learn about new opportunities and get your name out there. .


Different Types of Consulting Jobs


International Consulting offers a lot of opportunity for those looking to venture into this industry. Some of the most popular international consulting work includes:


Strategy Planning – Developing long term plans and strategies

Business Development – The focus is on driving profitable business growth and expanding operations

Marketing – Promoting products and services and remaining competitive

Financial Management – Better management of finances and effective budgeting

Human Resource – Assist with the development of recruitment, training and development initiatives

Information Technology – Work is undertaken to use computer systems and networks in the best way


Where to Find International Consultant Jobs


If you are committed to finding an international consultant role, there are lots of places you can look.


The United Nations - One of the most well-known organisations that hires international consultants is the United Nations. They frequently have openings for consultants in a variety of fields, such as economic development, human rights and environmental protection.


World Bank - The World Bank is another large organisation that employs international consultants. Their work focuses on areas such as poverty alleviation, economic development and infrastructure.


International Monetary Fund – Consultants appointed to the IMF work on issues related to global economic stability and financial assistance.


NGO's - There are also many NGO's (non-governmental organisations) that hire international consultants. The work of an NGO will vary but can include issues such as human rights, environmental protection and economic development.


Government - Many government agencies also hire international consultants. These positions can be found at the local, regional or national level.  


Private Organisations – The private sector also appeals to International Consultants who are brought in to advise on specific aspects of the business.


What Does an International Consultant Do?


The day-to-day job of an international consultant can vary depending on the specific role, the organisation and project. However, there are some common tasks that most consultants perform. These include:


·       Researching the needs of the client organisation

·       Developing plans and strategies to address those needs

·       Implementing and overseeing the project

·       Evaluating the results of the project


Consulting Model


Work as an international consultant can fall into one of several business models:


The Solo Consultant - The solo consultant is an independent consultant who works alone. This type of consultant typically has a small number of clients and works on shorter-term projects. The consultant may bring a specialist area of expertise to a project and is brought on board by a company as and when needed.


The Boutique Firm - The boutique firm is a small consulting firm that usually operates in a team who specialise in a particular area or industry. Boutique consulting firms will often take on larger projects as they have dedicated teams to assist with different aspects of the work.  


The Large Consulting Firm - The large consulting firm will employ hundreds or even thousands of consultants. These firms typically work on long-term projects for major corporations. Competition to get into these consulting firms is tough and the calibre of candidates is high.


The Product Based Consulting Model - If you choose this mode of working, you will package your consulting services as a product. This product will be sold to clients who need it. This approach is preferred for some consultants who want to be less hands on, but offer their consulting services with a tried and tested process that any business can implement to achieve results.


The Project Based Consulting Model - The project-based consulting model is the most common type of consulting. In this model, you will work with a client on a specific project. Once the project is completed, you will move on to another client. Projects can be short term or long term and you will provide support for the entire duration or periodically as and when you are needed.


The Retainer Based Consulting Model - In the retainer-based consulting model, you will work with a client on an ongoing basis. The client will pay you a monthly fee, and you will provide them with your consulting services as required.  


A Hybrid Model - This approach will combine two or more of the above models.


Challenges of International Consulting


There are also some challenges that come along with being an international consultant. These include:


The need for flexibility - International consultants often need to be very flexible in their work. They may need to travel on short notice and work long hours.


The risk of burnout - Because the nature of the work can be very demanding, there is a risk of burnout. Finding a good work/life balance is essential. Projects can be complex and when things deviate from the planned course of action, you may find that you have to work overtime including evenings and weekends to complete the project or bring it back on track.  


The need for expert knowledge – To achieve success, international consultants need to have a high level of expertise in their field. This means that you must be committed to learning and development so you can reach a high level of knowledge but also keep this up to date throughout your career.


Benefits of International Consulting


While there are challenges associated with international consulting, there are many benefits such as:


The opportunity to work in a variety of industries – Consulting opportunities are plentiful in international consulting. You can choose your own area of specialism and pursue projects that are of interest to you.  


The ability to learn about new cultures - One of the best parts of being an international consultant is the opportunity to travel to different countries. This can be a great way to see the world and learn about new cultures. As you network and build relationships with clients and colleagues, it’s such a great opportunity to learn and grow as an individual.


The opportunity to help others – Depending on the nature of your work, there is a possibility that you can make a positive change in the lives of others. You can help businesses grow and expand, and they can help improve the standard of living for people in developing countries.


A good salary - International consultants often earn a good salary. But this doesn’t come without it’s challenges. A good salary often means that you have a high level of responsibility and you have a lot to manage.


The chance to work independently - Many international consultants choose to work independently. This allows you to have a high degree of control over their work and their schedule.


Characteristics of an Effective International Consultant


To secure a role in international consulting, you should possess certain skills, knowledge and aptitude to excel. You should also have the following characteristics:


Research - One of the most important skills for an international consultant is the ability to conduct effective research. This includes being able to find reliable information and data, as well as being able to analyse it effectively.


Writing - International consultants need to be able to communicate their ideas clearly and effectively. You must be able to articulate yourself effectively in writing to provide recommendations, write reports and deliver advice.


Problem Solving – Demonstrate your problem solving capabilities as you consult organisations and help them overcome key challenges.


Excellent interpersonal skills - Another important skill for an international consultant is the ability to build relationships with people from different cultures. This includes being able to understand and respect cultural differences.


Flexibility – Projects often don’t go to plan. When things to wrong, being able to show flexibility to change track and adjust project goals is one of the most important skills you can master.  


Creativity - International consultants also need to be creative in their work. This includes coming up with new and innovative solutions to problems.


With a good idea of where you want to consult, it’s time to explore the practical aspects of running a consulting business.


Marketing Your Consulting Practice


Once you have the necessary qualifications and experience, you need to market your consulting business. This can be done by creating a website, writing articles or blog posts, giving presentations, or networking with potential clients. The most important thing is to make sure that potential clients know who you are and what you can offer them. You need to show them that you are an expert in your field and that you can help companies solve their problems.


Define Your Ideal Client


One of the first things you need to do when marketing your consulting practice is to define your ideal client. This is the type of organisation or business that you want to work with.  Some factors to consider include the size of the company, the industry, the location, and the budget. Once you have a good idea of the type of clients you want to work with, you can start to tailor your marketing efforts. When marketing your practice, it is also important to focus on building relationships. This means that you should not only try to sell your services, but also build a rapport with potential clients. By taking the time to get to know them and their needs, you will be more likely to win their business. Ways to market your consulting services include:


Website: Your website is one of the best ways to market your consulting practice. Make sure that it is professional and informative, and that it includes your contact information. Share specifically what problems you solve.


Blog: A blog is a great way to show potential clients your expertise. Write articles that focus on topics that are relevant to your field, and include links to your website. Thought leadership pieces are great for consultants.


Presentations: Giving presentations is a great way to get your name out there. Focus on topics that are relevant to your field, and make sure to include your contact information. Presentations can be given virtually and uploaded to sites such as YouTube, or as you get your name known, you may be invited to events as a guest speaker.


Networking: Networking is one of the best ways to market your consulting practice. Attend events, meet with potential clients, and get your name out there.


By following these tips, you can market your consulting practice and attract new clients. Just remember to focus on building relationships, and show potential clients that you are an expert in your field.


Pricing Consultancy Services


Pricing can make or break your consulting business. Pricing your services too high or too low can have a negative impact on your business. Some things to consider when pricing:


·       Figure out what projects you want to work on – some projects demand a higher level (and therefore cost) of expertise than others

·       Level of experience

·       Location of the project

·       Duration of the project

·       Expected deliverables


Some ways to price your services include:


Per-project: This is where you charge a fixed price for the entire project. A fixed cost can be a good option if the project is well-defined and you are confident in your ability to complete it.


Hourly: This is where you charge an hourly rate for your services. This can be a good option if the project is not well-defined or if you are not confident in your ability to complete it.


Retainer: This is where you charge a monthly fee for your services. You may provide a set number of hours consulting for a client and charge them a set fee each month.


Once you have priced your services, you need to put together a proposal. This should include information on the project, your experience, your price, and your terms. By taking the time to put together a well-crafted proposal, you will increase your chances of winning the business.


Top Tips for A Career in International Consulting


If you're interested in pursuing a career in international consulting, there are a few things you should keep in mind. Here are some top tips:


Do your research - The first step is to do your research and make sure that this is the right career for you. This includes learning about the day-to-day responsibilities of an international consultant, as well as the skills and characteristics that are needed to be successful in this role.


Gain experience - It's also important to gain some experience in the field before you pursue a career in international consulting. This can be done by interning with a consulting firm or working on a project with an international organisation.


Build your network - Another important tip is to build your professional network. This will come in handy when you're looking for jobs and clients. Sometimes it’s not what you know but who.


Be prepared to start small - When you're first starting out, you may not be able to land a high-paying consulting project right away. Be prepared to start small and work your way up.


Find a mentor - Finally, it's helpful to find a mentor who can guide you in your career. This can be someone who works in the field of international consulting or someone who has a lot of experience in the business world.


Now that you know more about what international consultants do, you may be wondering if this is the right career for you. If you have the required skills, you are committed to solving problems and are willing to develop your expertise to an advanced level, then being an international consultant can be a very rewarding experience.



Before we wrap up this guide, here’s a summary of what we have covered:

·       International consulting is a great career choice for ambitious and driven individuals

·       You can gain consulting work at national and international organisations such as government departments, NGO’s, UNICEF and others

·       Consultants need a broad skill set and a vast amount of expertise to work at a senior level

·       You must be willing to invest in marketing and networking, showing patience and resilience to establish and grow your practice