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To Consult or Not to Consult, That is the Question

As I’ve stated in previous posts, jobs are difficult to come by and companies are really more anxious to solve key problems keeping them from realizing their objectives, much more than they are increasing their employment ranks. With uncertainty still the emotion of the day for many companies, bringing on new staff to solve problems is a very difficult decision to make. In some companies, hiring freezes are still in force, so unless you’re interviewing for a position that was vacated or reports to a very senior exec, your dream company might not be able to hire you, even if they have a great need of your expertise.

I’ve often advised senior executive candidates in transition to look at consulting. It solves a number of problems and gets the executive engaged in something worthwhile, at least on a part time basis, so they’re not job searching 24/7. Cash flow can be king, especially if you’ve been out of work for awhile, and consulting can help solve some or all of that problem. Additionally, companies that do have a challenge but are still reluctant to hire someone to solve it, might be very excited about someone offering to work on a part time, or even full time basis for the near term to solve it.

What does consulting bring you in the long run job search?

  • It gives you an assignment to work on that you can talk about in future job interviews.
  • It gives the company you’re consulting with an opportunity to “try before they buy” and see how effective you can be in their company.
  • It positions you as a solution to a problem and potentially removes the “beauty contest” that a job search often becomes.
  • It generates cash flow for you.

I have heard many stories of employees starting out as consultants and converting their assignment into an employment opportunity with that company.

For anyone considering consulting as a bridge to their dream job, there are many publications out there that are great at helping someone get started. Often, the key is to identify those companies that might benefit from your expertise, and then just get on the phone with the most senior person you can reach, and let them know you’re not looking for a job with them, but wanted to let them know about your expertise in the event they have a challenge the needs a short term solution. They’ll likely be blown away by the offer to meet and discuss this with no strings attached, and you might find yourself engaged in a serious challenge for a great company.

3 Responses

  1. Marcy Alstott

    I’ve just started this and while it is complicated to set everything up, it is a great way to stay current, add value and bring in some money. What I have found is that if you are “teaching”, which is many ways is what consulting turns out to be, you have to be crisp and clear on what you “thought” you knew. Nothing refreshes your memory like having to explain it to someone else!

    My experience is that the job market today is very fragmented. There is a lot of work to be done but it isn’t packaged the way it used to be. There are fewer big jobs out there but there are a lot of problems to be solved.

    My area of expertise is Operations/Supply Management. Start-up companies seem to add this late. They know they are vulnerable but don’t want to spend the money on headcount. Bringing in an expert to help with contracts, processes, suppliers, etc before the gaps slow down a launch is an effective way to lower risk. Though I’ve just started, I’m having a blast.

  2. Rod McDermott

    Thank you Ivory. I appreciate the comments and please feel free to critique my comments with your own opinions. I want the broadest ideas to reach our readers.

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