Working as a consultant

No consultant assignment is exactly the same. It is a work role where variety comes as a natural ingredient. But apart from being qualified competence-wise, what does it take to work as a consultant? Consultant Manager Madeleine Erlandsson, Tech Recruiter Miriam Adhanom and HR Operations Specialist Mathilda Syrén have the answers.

Before moving into the manager role, Madeleine worked as a consultant for almost 10 years. She emphasizes that experience is merely one piece of the puzzle.

“I’ve noticed that young people, fresh out of university, often think that they aren’t tech-savvy or competent enough for a consultant role. They see consultants as super-skilled experts that help out with complicated tasks clients can’t possibly handle themselves. And that is of course one side of the story. Expertise is in high demand. But if you have the right attitude and you are eager to learn, there is a market for you. Even if you don’t have decades of experience.”

Today, the majority of people working within IT and QA are men. But there is no reason it should stay that way – to be a good fit for the consultant role, your gender, personal beliefs or interests do not really matter. Skills and education are of course vital parts, but your mindset is just as important.

“You should be communicative, flexible and able to handle quick changes. You should also act as an ambassador for your employer. If you thrive in an atmosphere where change is one of the very few constants, if you enjoy learning new ways of working and to keep up with the latest in tech, and if the possibility to work within various line of businesses appeals to you, then life as a consultant is right up your alley.”

Torn between two organisations?

Consultants spend most of their time working for companies other than their own employer. In other words: a consultant is basically a part of two organisations. Could that result in a feeling of not really belonging anywhere? Mathilda doesn’t see a big problem here, but regardless, it does raise some issues.

Miriam Adhanom, Madeleine Erlandsson and Mathilda Syrén

“Well, you are actually part of two teams – your team at your consultant company and your customer’s team! You tend to see the people you work closely with as colleagues, even if they have a different employer. Many find it fun and rewarding to work in different assignments. It expands your network and chances to learn, while you still always have a base in your team at System Verification.  But regardless, that consultants spend a lot of time away from their own company is an important perspective and something to be aware of. As an employer, we need to work continuously with our company culture. Our co-workers should feel they are a part of System Verification. Therefore, we arrange different events, training, after work get-togethers, yearly conference trips … and every now and then people spend their workday here at our office. They often lunch together, too.”

“We’re also in frequent contact with our co-workers. They should feel that we’re here for them if they need support, and that they have a solid ground for personal and professional development,” says Madeleine.

Miriam Adhanom, Madeleine Erlandsson and Mathilda Syrén

QA assignments

And as we now move from the IT consultant role in general to System Verification specifically: here, we specialize in QA – software Quality Assurance. The process of selecting consultants for QA and test assignments and/or vice versa – how does that work?

“It’s a joint discussion, something we solve together. A part of my job as a consultant manager is to find assignments that suit my co-worker’s career goals,” says Madeleine.

Mathilda continues:

“Ideally, an assignment should of course match your skills, but it should also contain a certain amount of challenges. Our co-workers get training and attend courses, but a crucial part of our competence development happens through the work you do every day. That assignments allow our people to learn and grow is something that is highly prioritized.”

From a recruitment perspective, Miriam adds:

“We recruit new talent based on their personality and skillset. With that I mean that we don’t hire just for specific assignments. We are confident that as long as we get the right people, we will also find projects where they can contribute.”

Careers within System Verification

Mathilda, Madeleine and Miriam all started working for the company in 2021. So why did they choose System Verification?

Miriam: “I got a great impression at my first interview. A flat organisation, where everyone is seen and heard.”

Mathilda: “I like how we blend high ambitions and grand visions with a friendly, caring and down-to-earth atmosphere.”

Madeleine: “I agree that the atmosphere is incredibly important. And to me, it was also about the fact that the company is focused on QA.”

But how tricky is it to pursue a career – if, as Miriam points out, the organisation is flat, it can’t be easy to move up any hierarchical ladders? She agrees that at first glance, that might look as a challenge.

“The paths upwards may appear narrow. But there are roles to try and career routes to follow.”

“A lot of people working within technology strive to become experts – like QA gurus that excel and share knowledge within their field. So career ladders are often based on expertise and experience rather than hierarchy,” adds Madeleine.

Consultant myths

To round things off, here are Madeleine’s thoughts on a couple of common myths about working as a consultant. How do these myths apply to working within QA – can we consider them busted?

1 It is solitary work.

“No. Working as a QA consultant definitely requires social skills. You are almost always part of a team, and you communicate and align with developers, UX designers, business people and other teams continuously.” Myth busted.

2 It is monotonous.

“Software testers and QA specialists need to be troubleshooters, be ready to try new ideas and think outside the box. In short, these are very creative work roles.” Myth busted.

3 It is a precarious type of employment.

“It is sometimes said that the consultant has more insecure job conditions than someone being employed by a product company. Here at System Verification, we’ve never had any large-scale dismissals .” Myth busted (at least from a System Verification perspective).

4 QA work is mostly for guys.

“The gender balance within the IT world is skewed. But here at System Verification, we offer a job that is fun, rewarding and challenging. Your gender is not really an issue – it’s your personality, attitude and skills that count.” Myth not really busted. But hopefully, it will be in a not too distant future.

Related content

The Quality Blog

Millennial women - settle for the best

“After five years in the IT industry, the time has come to reflect. Over the last years, it’s been full speed ahead with talent acquisition. I’ve learnt a lot, but it was time for a change. I’ve recently switched to two new roles at System Verification, and I’m already delighted with my tasks within sales and marketing. And, I am incredibly grateful for the opportunity’s my company gives me, especially since my background mainly is within recruitment. I am proud of my career and what I have accomplished so far – after all, I’m still just 25 years old.”

From talent acquisition and recruitment to sales and marketing – here’s Julia Abelsson’s story.

The Quality Blog

System Verification Malmö hires its first fully remote employee

At System Verification we believe in new ways of working. We always strive to work in a modern way and don’t hesitate to try new things. Early in the pandemic, when a lot of companies discussed what impact this would have on them, we instead had workshops focusing on what possibilities this could give us. One of them was remote work, hiring people purely on skill and values and not based on geographic location. 

The first fully remote employee at the Malmö office is the tech recruiter Miriam Adhanom who joined our recruitment team in Malmö from 8th of November 2021.