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Internal Versus External Consulting: Which Is Right for You?

Gregg Jaclin explains the differences between a career in external and internal consulting

By Gregg JaclinPublished about a year ago 3 min read

A consultant is an experienced individual specializing in a particular field or topic and providing clients advice and guidance. There are two types of consultants: internal and external. The former is used to help organizations improve their operations from the inside, while the latter is hired from an outside organization to help with a specific project. In this article, we talk about the differences between internal and external consultants and what they do.

Consultants as a Whole

With a consultant's help, an organization can improve its workforce by developing strategies and implementing plans to improve its work environment. Although external and internal consultants carry out the same duties, they may also undergo different hiring processes.

The duties and responsibilities of an external consultant can vary depending on the scope of their work. These include analyzing the current state of the company's marketing and advertising, reviewing work processes, developing plans for improving company practices, identifying conflicts, and resolving disputes.

External Consultants

An external consultant is not a full-time employee of a company. Instead, they are hired by organizations or businesses to help them identify and solve their various problems. They can be found through referrals or by hiring from larger consulting firms.

Internal Consultants

An internal consultant is typically a professional who works in a company's human resources department. They may also work with other departments, such as the quality control department, to improve the company's operations. These individuals report directly to the company's executive leadership.

Here are some key differences between the two types of consultants.


One of the main differences between the two types of consultants is their client base. An external consultant has a diverse client base and can work with various organizations. On the other hand, an internal consultant works within a company, and they don't seek work with other companies. This ensures that their client remains the same regardless of the changes in the business environment.

Length of Contract

Another significant difference between the two types of consultants is the time they spend with the company. For instance, an external consultant may spend up to three months working for a client before they leave. On the other hand, an internal consultant may spend up to five years or more working for a company. This ensures that their relationship with their client remains the same.


External consultants are usually not familiar with their client's problems unless they are repeat clients. This can pose various disadvantages, such as their lack of knowledge about the company's internal politics. On the other hand, internal consultants are more likely to have the necessary skills to solve complex issues as they know the company inside and out.


Although both types of consultants have the same responsibilities, the projects they work on can vary. For instance, an external consultant may focus on a specific company area that needs improvement, while an internal consultant may work on programs and policies. On the other hand, internal consultants are usually more likely to focus on problem-solving techniques.


The costs of hiring an external consultant differ from those of using an internal consultant. For instance, an external consultant is typically contracted, while an internal consultant is generally on the company's payroll. If a company does not have an internal consultant, it might be better to hire an external consultant. An organization might spend extra money on an external consultant if its internal consultant doesn't have the necessary skills to address specific issues.

With these key differences in mind, you can decide if you want to pursue a career as an internal or external consultant. External consulting might be a good choice if you enjoy adventure and variability. On the other hand, if you prefer stability and learning the ins and outs of one company, internal consulting will be a better fit.


About the Creator

Gregg Jaclin

Gregg Jaclin is based in Princeton, NJ and has dedicated his career to business consulting. He is particularly involved in working with entrepreneurs and focuses on companies looking to launch IPOs and other public equity matters.

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