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How do I pivot to transition into consulting when I do not have direct consulting experience?


Mary Stephens Arlington, VA

I am a military spouse with two decades of experience in management and the field of behavioral health. I have held several positions that required me to implement organizational change. I recently completed my MBA with a concentration in Human Resource Management, and am looking to pivot into a different direction with my career. More specifically, I am interested in change management, organizational development, and management consulting. I have management experience in the public sector, private sector, and the not-for-profit sector. I hold a Secret clearance.

1 October 2020 13 replies Career Advancement



George Hogan Westport, CT

Good afternoon Mary-

You're an ideal candidate to be a consultant. You have a broad background in many areas, and I think its great that you are interested in specific disciplines such as Change Management and Organizational Development. Your MBA/HR Management provides additional value, specifically as HR Transformations have become or are becoming a key initiative in the marketplace.

@ Karen Frank should be instrumental in helping to steer you on tactical next steps.

I would offer two other softer items to emphasize. 1) As a Consultant (and I view Change Management and Org Developments as disciplines for Consultants) it is important to stress your problem solving capabilities. Clients will have thorny, often intractable, issues and they need help addressing and resolving them. If you can convey, that complexity does not bother you, and you are confident that you can frame an issue (e.g. by decomposing it into small solvable pieces) you will do well. 2) be as clear and concise in communication your approach, potential alternatives and recommended solutions. Your success as a Consultant is predicated on your ability to communicate your points to your client. Demonstrate that and combine it will the capability to solve problems, and you will excel.

Best of luck!


Karen Frank New Canaan, CT

Hi Mary,

I'm in change management internal consulting right now and would be happy to chat with you further about this. I'd focus on your transferable skills that you've attained. The steps you've taken so far aren't too far off to get you into the field and consulting. Connect with me via LinkedIn if you'd like to chat.


Luke Raiano Bedford, NH

Hi Mary. I agree with Jill and would add several companies to that list including KPMG. As part of your resume, they will also be interested in what contacts you may that you can leverage to help their business goals.


Susan Congiu Southbury, CT

HI Mary- I'd advise not to worry about titles as much as your experience and transitional skills - take your experience in change management, organizational change, etc. and tell a story by not only stating what you have done but what the outcome was. If not direct experience- what you can do with something similar that shows results or a happy customer/user/manager. Try to quantify this too as even technical skills need to show a return on investment long term. Perhaps something you have innovated that didnt' exist - this shows initiative!
Check out I highly recommend checking out free training and even obtaining a badge. The skills you can explore by the links for job seekers as well as cool technologies like Cloud as well as Business Strategy. There are IBM Events, Meetups, Training that you can also check out and register for. It is not only the skills that you will learn but the connections that you will make through your initiative that share a common interest. Good luck!


Jill MacCreery Seattle, WA

Hi Mary,
With your background and experience, I would check out Booz Allen Hamilton and Deloitte. Applying for an open position with either of these companies (or similar) would introduce you to the consulting world in a way that simply starting on your own would never match. Hope that is helpful. I have contacts at Booz if you would like help getting your resume into their internal system.....



Mary: I built a successful 40 year nation-wide management consulting and training company from the ground up. Write a book on the subject; create a training seminar on the subject; develop a brochure on the training seminar; market the seminar across the country.

How about this: Go to Law School and get a JD. That will put you apart from everyone else "out there", as it did for me.

I would be happy to provide more information if asked.

Francis J. Tepedino


Ruben Gavilan Reston, VA

How is what you have been doing different from consulting, other than a timeline?

Consulting is about finding optimal approaches to complex problems. If you were already managing things, and if you were improving processes and the like - You were already consulting.

Apply to firm which specializes in consulting, and be prepared to work! Additionally, all of the best consultants I know can do the whole lift, from forming an idea, to building out the models, to then showing those models in an attractive fashion while directly selling the customer on your data.

No one likes consultants who cant tell a story with the data they gather.


Jim Rohrbach Evanston, IL

Hi Mary! I suggest you take a look at some of Alan Weiss' offerings. You may want to start with his book Getting Started in Consulting. I hope that's helpful.


June Webb Washington, DC

Hello Mary,

You want to identify the exact problem that you are going to solve for your client as a consultant. Consulting is about selling your solution service to the audience/client. I developed and grew my own coaching and consulting company from the ground up based on my own personal experiences, over 25 years of management experience, and a coaching certificate.

Please connect with my on Linkedin if you like to learn more.

Visionary Successful Guidance
June Webb
Founder - Coach - Consultant


Paul Tusting Salt Lake City, UT

Hi Mary,

It sounds like you have a tremendous amount of experience in the areas in which you hope to consult, so what will be new is how the work is delivered (i.e. consulting vs. employee). A conservative approach is to find a consulting firm and work with them to get a lay of the land on how that world works (before venturing out on your own).

Have made the move from employee to consultant in a number of fields, I have found two major things to be different: 1) you'll be getting paid for results/solutions vs. effort, and the timelines are usually shorter, and 2) the "nuts and bolts" of consulting [tracking hours & deliverables & communicating both, sales funnel: leads to opportunities to contracts to invoice to payments].

The alternative to working for a consulting firm is doing it all on your own out of the gate. Often the biggest challenges to this are networking/sales, and having to learn the "nuts and bolts" on your own (good news is that these activities are very similar regardless of industry, so there is a lot of learning resources out there).

If you have any questions, please feel free to reach out 1:1.


Jeff Martin Ashburn, VA

I’d suggest that you network at the target company or industry. Use LinkedIn to find people already working there and reach out to them. Ask them the process they used to get hired and ask them to help you navigate the hiring process and if they are willing, ask them to submit you as a referral. These activities require much more time on your part but in my opinion would greatly increase your chances for success. Good luck!


Jo Prabhu San Rafael, CA

Hello Mary, You may start your search and gain some insight and experience by selecting a few companies of interest and find ways to volunteer. The Covid has changed the way companies have hitherto conducted business and change is what they are looking for. You may also want to start writing some of your theories or post articles on select Linked In Groups to receive feedback and advice from your group members


Robert Knies Louisville, KY

You may want to look at the companies that are doing the VA or DOD new electronic health care record implementation. Leidos, Cerner, even the VA. Also other government agencies who follow/use a strong Change Management theory/practice.

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