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Those who can, do? Those who can’t, consult?

July 31, 2012

I hear jokes about consultants all the time – generally saying that a consultant is a non-job and that anyone that calls themselves a consultant probably lacks the skills or experience to get a proper job.  Sort of along the lines of ‘Those who can, do.  Those who can’t, consult.’  It’s usually tongue in cheek.  Usually. 

I also regularly hear people talking about deciding not to call themselves a consultant for the same reasons.  It’s not cool to be a consultant.  Seeing consultant on a business card puts people off.

Me, I cling onto Research Consultant as a job title because I have not yet thought of anything that better describes what I do.

I’ve been an ‘Executive’ before, and a ‘Manager’ and a ‘Head of’.  They are no more descriptive, and Executive (which in fact is the industry standard) is probably even woollier than Consultant.  We’ve all made jokes about refuse collection executives, have we not? 

I’ve toyed with ‘Expert’, or there is always the option to bump myself up to Director or Chief Executive or Owner.  But I prefer not to overstate my empire (of one), and I am looking for a job title that does what it says on the tin.

And the thing is, the Oxford English dictionary (online) defines a consultant as being “a person who provides expert advice professionally”.   That is exactly what I do. 

The weakness of the vague term Consultant is also its strength.  Depending on who I’m talking to, as a Research Consultant I can big myself up, or keep things low key.  Sometimes you need that.

So Research Consultant I remain.  For now…

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