Michael D. Green

Blogger, Consultant, Technologist and Very Opinionated.

Those Pesky Soft Skills! Who Needs Them? Part 3

29 Jan 2015 » careeradvice

Soft Skills

Hi there, welcome to part 3 of my blog series on soft skills, if you haven’t read part 2, you can view it here.

In my 3rd and final entry in this blog series, I will be focusing on sales and recruiting.


When I first got into consulting, one thing I noticed is that many technical consultants tended to not like being involved in sales. Because of this, most consulting firms offer career paths for consultants who want to remain technical and those who want to go the sales or managerial route. For this blog, when I talk about sales as it relates to soft skills, I am talking about the ability of a consultant to recognize potential sales opportunities, regardless of their position at the consulting firm. For a consulting company to survive, it will need to maintain a healthy sales pipeline. To do this, many firms employ a full time sales team whose main job is to get new business. However, the sales team can only do so much and unlike consultants, they are not consistently onsite working with the client. As a consultant, you will be working very closely with clients and you will have unique insight into other problems that they may have. It has been my experience that when a client has decided to bring in consultants, they usually need more help than just the work they are initially speaking to your firm about.

For example, I was among one of the first boots on the ground for a new client a few years ago who wanted our team to stabilize and enhance an existing application. While we were onsite at the client, we noticed that they had very antiquated software development practices. We spoke to the client about changing some of their outdated processes and demonstrated what we could do by implementing good software development practices on the stabilization project we were brought in for. Because the project was successful and our team recognized other areas we could help our client improve, our team ended up helping our client move from Waterfall to Agile Scrum and instituting good software development processes like upgrading their version control system, continuous integration and automated deployment of code. Consultants who are able to help bring in new business by recognizing other areas a client can improve are valuable because they are assisting the sales team and they offer more value to their client by doing more than just the bare minimum, which benefits both the client and their firm.


For a consulting firm to maintain a competitive edge, it must ensure that it is consistently bringing in talented people into the organization. Similar to sales, most companies will have a dedicated staff whose main function is to bring in talented individuals into the company. From my experience, many staff members that work in recruiting have exceptional people skills but may not be technical enough to evaluate a candidate’s hard skills. As a consultant, not only will you be keeping your hard skills up to date, you will also be working with many individuals as you progress through your career. You will be in a unique position to help your consulting firm recruit talented individuals because you will have a good understanding of a potential candidate’s soft and hard skills because you worked with them on projects. Consultants who have the ability to recognize talent and help with recruiting efforts are very valuable to a consulting firm. Many firms will offer generous monetary incentives for consultants whom refer candidates that are eventually hired.

According to a Federal Reserve Bank of New York study, referred candidates were twice as likely to get interviews and 40 percent more likely to be hired than other candidates. I have been in consulting since 2010 and 50 percent of the firms I have worked for was because a friend was currently working there and referred me. Referring someone can help save your firm time and money because there is some trust already built up because an employee is already familiar with the potential candidate. When a person knows someone who is currently working at an organization they are more likely to ask questions about the company they normally wouldn’t ask a recruiter. Because of this, the potential candidate is able to make a better informed decision as to whether or not the consulting firm is a good fit and potentially avoiding a lot of wasted time. When the potential candidate’s actual skills are evaluated in a technical interview, the firm’s resources, who often times have projects for which they are currently billing, are not wasted on someone who was never qualified in the first place. As a consultant who has interviewed several people, one of the worst situations I can find myself in is wasting time interviewing a candidate that doesn’t possess the appropriate technical skills for the position.

I hope you enjoyed my 3 part series on soft skills. I enjoyed sharing some of my experiences with the folks on the Interwebz. Soft skills are becoming increasingly important and serves as a way to differentiate those who have similar hard skills. Working on your soft skills can not only help you grow as a consultant but possibly as a human being.

Feel free to share your thoughts about soft skills!