In the world of consulting, we often hear candidates talk about the hesitancy with moving from a full-time salaried position at a company, to the role of contracted consulting. We get that and change is always a scary thing, but allow us to try to calm some of those nerves.
We sat down with a group of our consultants for some perspective on this topic. Each of them have spent time in corporate positions before making the switch to consulting. This can give you a better understanding of why they made the move, the positives and even the negatives associated with the change. The group we discussed this topic with was made up of software developers, but our experience is that most of these points cut across roles in most situations.
In a contracted situation, you have the ability to pick and choose your work and the type of work you complete more. If you work full-time for an organization, it’s likely that you will be told what to do and what takes priority. Yes…you would hope to get some say in those conversations, but that isn’t always the case. With contracting, you can ask about the project your are being hired for and find out if it’s a good fit for you. Once the project is up, you can walk away to the next thing or they may offer you an extension on something new they are tackling. But the key thing there…you decide what to do.
Another freedom with contracted work is the flexibility it allows in your schedule. In most cases, you will be able to take time off when you choose. At some organizations, you may find designated blocks of time that almost all employees in the company or a department aren’t allowed to take time off. You probably won’t have to worry about anything like that happening as a consultant.
With those freedoms, does come some responsibility. You can expect to take part in interviews at various clients over time. Once you finish up at a client, you will be presented to other clients you may have an interest in working for. They will have their own set of evaluation criteria and almost all of them will want to have you take part in an interview or series of interviews. We think this is a great way to stay current and determine how to keep yourself marketable.
Quality of Work
Our developers made it clear that with their consulting roles, the work was always more appealing than that at their permanent placements. They conveyed that it was usually more project based work as opposed to maintaining legacy applications. In many organizations that hire contracted consultants, they see newer technologies being used. This will require a strong learning curve when stepping into a consulting role, but one developer even stressed that they are “comfortable being uncomfortable” and that it forces them to keep their skills sharp. In the long run, this will benefit the client and you. The more you learn and can apply, the more you are worth and your perceived value will increase when it comes to invoice time.
However, the ever-changing needs of clients requires you to always be learning new processes, environments, frameworks, and languages. If you love to learn and can adapt to change, consulting will suit you well.
It’s not uncommon to get caught up in office politics when you are working directly for a company. It’s just part of the grind of corporate culture in many cases and can be understandable at times. But, we find that most of the time in the role of consultant, if you do your job and do it well, you won’t have to ever even think about politics. You were hired to come in and complete a task or project and that should be your only concern.
Let’s face it…this may be the most attractive reason to make the move to consulting. The money is almost always, far and away, going to be better in the world of consulting. The work is more transactional in nature. If you have the skills that are needed to complete a project or job in a specified time frame, you provide extreme value to a client and they are willing to pay a premium to bring you in. Now, this may not be true for all positions, across all industries, but when we talked to a group of software developers, this was the prevalent theme.
Still unsure? Ask lots of questions of your recruiter you are working with. See if you can discuss consulting with some of the other consultants that work with the agency you are talking to. Ask lots of questions once you are interviewing at a client. Find out all you can before you make the move, to make sure it’s the right move for you.
Check out some of the open roles at Beacon today and we can start the conversation about the transition to a consulting role with you.