It’s a great time to work in IT. Gone are the days where we work for a company for 20 years, get a gold watch and a retirement package. Given globalization, mergers and acquisitions, and regulatory uncertainties, you can no longer rely on your employee status as a sure thing. It could all end at any minute. Which means, your current employer is your client – and they could let you go at any time. It’s just business.
So, when we decide to take control and determine our expertise and how we could use it towards becoming a consultant, we also start to recognize how to manage our careers like a business. And that is one of the most valuable things you can do to stay employable today.
Does that mean you should quit your day job and become a consultant immediately? Maybe not. But you should know the pro’s and con’s about consulting so that you are ready, if and when, the time comes to make the transition.
Compensation – “Money makes the world go round,” sang Liza in Cabaret. And it’s way up there in luring people to make decisions about switching roles. Full-Time Employment (FTE) can include compensation packages, vacation time, retirement accounts or pensions, and other company perks such as discounts at retailers and gym memberships. Consultants, on the other hand, can easily make more money than full-time employees in the same time period, but may have to assume more of the costs associated with the benefits typically offered through FTE.** Additionally, FTE compensation is usually a salaried position meaning your rate is stagnant no matter how many hours you provide to your employer. Consultants are usually paid by the hour and are compensated for every hour they work. With experience and credentials, it is possible to earn far more as a consultant than as an employee. This means a better lifestyle and fewer working hours needed to maintain that lifestyle.
**Each consulting firm varies, so be sure to check with the firm you are working with to learn more about their benefits.
Hint: Hollstadt’s are top notch.
Skill Development – Consultants are exposed to a wide variety of experiences and are taught how to apply lessons learned in other situations to the ones at hand. Consulting keeps your valuable skills sharp for future employment opportunities. It stocks your resume with a variety of projects that expand your skillsets instead of tying you to one role or one type of industry. On the other hand, while consulting can be a great way to gain expertise in all kinds of areas—it also means that you must constantly adapt and be as flexible as possible with your aptitude and work style. One potential risk could be that you may not become a true expert in a single focused area or industry.
Variety – Instead of doing the same job and duties day after day, you can diversify your work at your discretion with consulting. The diversity of your work can keep you challenged and motivated, while working with the same people all the time may drain on your creativity. Working for many different clients keeps the work varied and allows you to learn new tools, processes and business techniques as you move from client to client. This is one of the factors that interests people who have become bored in their roles. Each day and every project in consulting is different, keeping you from boredom and burnout.
Networking – Consultants are assigned to work for different clients on diverse projects. Because of this, they can widen their network without putting forth much effort. Their connections, if properly nurtured, can lead to more opportunities, better employment, and lasting friendships. One of the key benefits of consulting is the client interaction. You’ll work directly with client counterparts, and in some cases, you may even lead client teams. You’ll add a valuable experience to your resume and build valuable long-term skills. In addition, you may develop client relationships that will last beyond your tenure. Stronger than any client relationships will be your relationships with fellow consultants – especially those who you work alongside with in a consulting compacity. They understand the nuances of consulting and you can often navigate the challenges of being “outside” the organization together, building strong, lasting relationships.
Risk – This is the big one when people think of consulting…it’s risky. Or at least riskier than full-time employment. But is it really? Let’s take a look. Consultants normally are on contract for a set amount of time. When the contract ends there is one of two options: both parties agree to extend the contract for a new, set amount of time or one or both parties decide to part ways. This can be challenging for some people who require stability and don’t have the ability to plan into their compensation structure to allow for time without work. That said, you know what the contract length is and can plan to begin your next search while wrapping up your current assignment. And, if you work with a solid consulting firm like Hollstadt, they will assist you in advocating for an extension (if you like the role and there is work still to be done) or assist in placing you on a new assignment. One more thing to remember about risk…just like in consulting, your full-time employment can be terminated at any time, and in many cases without warning or reason which can be equally as challenging. Keep this in mind when weighing your risk tolerance.
In the end, the decision to transition into consulting is up to you. You are the only one that can decide if consulting aligns best with your career goals. What one person might find as a benefit, the other might view it as a disadvantage. But that’s the benefit about looking at your career and career goals as your own personal business…only you know what is best for you!
If you are interested in learning more about Hollstadt and consulting with Hollstadt, reach out to us today at firstname.lastname@example.org.