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Top 10 Essential Skills for Consultants

Like our highly experienced CARA consultants, you’re always thinking about what you need to do to stay at the top of your game and provide clients with the best possible outcomes. This means you’re committed to continuous upskilling, staying up to date with the latest industry research, and understanding which learning and growth trends are meaningful. Recently, we’ve been closely examining the World Economic Forum’s latest report on the top 10 essential skills for consultants and professionals across industries, and we wanted to share the findings with you.

“Keeping an eye on research like this is helpful for consultants to ensure they focus on their own professional development, acquiring the skillsets most needed for client work,” explained Allyson Carter, CARA’s SVP of Talent. 

Essential Skills for Consultants and Why They Matter

  1. Analytical Thinking and Innovation: Consultants must possess strong analytical abilities to break down complex problems, identify root causes, and devise innovative solutions. An innovative mindset allows you to challenge conventional thinking and offer fresh perspectives.
  2. Active Learning and Learning Strategies: The consulting landscape is continually evolving. Successful consultants are lifelong learners, constantly acquiring new knowledge and adapting their skills to meet changing client needs and industry trends.
  3. Complex Problem-Solving: At the heart of consulting is the ability to tackle intricate, multifaceted problems. Consultants must have a structured approach to problem-solving, gathering relevant data, considering multiple perspectives, and developing comprehensive strategies.
  4. Critical Thinking and Analysis: Effective consultants think critically, questioning assumptions in a professional manner, and evaluating information objectively. Strong analytical skills enable them to make sound judgments and provide well-reasoned recommendations.
  5. Creativity, Originality, and Initiative: Clients often seek consultants to bring fresh ideas and innovative solutions. Creativity and originality, coupled with a proactive mindset, allow consultants to develop unique approaches tailored to their clients’ challenges.
  6. Leadership and Social Influence: As trusted advisors, consultants must possess leadership qualities to guide clients through complex initiatives. Excellent communication, emotional intelligence, and interpersonal skills are crucial for building rapport, influencing stakeholders, and driving positive change within organizations.
  7. Technology Use, Monitoring, and Control: In this digital and AI era, consultants must be adept at leveraging technology to streamline processes, analyze data, and deliver insights. Understanding how to effectively use and monitor technological tools is essential.
  8. Technology Design and Programming: Depending on the consulting domain, expertise in technology design and programming may be necessary. Consultants who can develop custom software solutions or optimize existing systems can provide significant value to their clients.
  9. Resilience, Stress Tolerance, and Flexibility: Consulting can be a demanding profession with tight deadlines, high-pressure situations, and rapidly changing priorities. Resilience, stress tolerance, and flexibility are vital for navigating these challenges and delivering consistent, high-quality work.
  10. Reasoning, Problem-Solving, and Ideation: Obstacles will occur so the ability to reason through complex situations, solve multifaceted problems, and generate innovative ideas is integral. Consultants must possess strong problem-solving skills and the capacity for creative ideation. 

Of course, these essential skills can and will shift over time, and according to The World Economic Forum, while many of the core skills like analytical thinking, problem-solving, and creativity remain paramount, there is an increasing emphasis on digital literacy, adaptability, and maintaining a customer-centric mindset. To stay ahead and become an invaluable resource, consultants must continually enhance their expertise in these emerging 10 areas.  

Top Skills on the Rise for Consultants 

      • Creative Thinking 
      • Technological Literacy 
      • Curiosity and Lifelong Learning 
      • Systems Thinking 
      • AI and Big Data 
      • Motivation and Self-Awareness 
      • Talent Management 
      • Service Orientation and Customer Service

Without a doubt, continuing to focus on upskilling to meet changing workplace challenges will give you an advantage with clients. “The consultants we work with who are committed to upskilling are trusted advisors, thought leaders, and driving forces behind our clients’ success,” said Carter.  

As you evaluate your skills against this research, make a plan to strengthen the ones you already possess and identify areas where you can develop further expertise to enhance your value as a consultant.  If you have valuable resources to share on how you’re continuously upskilling and keeping your expertise sharp, please reach out. We’d be delighted to highlight your insights with our entire talent community. 


Gina Arinyanontakoon, Talent Acquisition Director, The CARA Group

Author Gina Arinyanontakoon, Talent Acquisition Director, The CARA Group

Gina Arinyanontakoon is The CARA Group’s Talent Acquisition Director with a long career in full life cycle recruiting and talent management. As a CARA brand ambassador, she is passionate about aligning top talent with engaging work and creating exceptional candidate experiences. Gina continues to stay educated and informed on workforce trends and how they apply to CARA and our Talent Community.

More posts by Gina Arinyanontakoon, Talent Acquisition Director, The CARA Group