When first entering the job force, few entertain the idea of working as a consultant. In fact, I’d say most aren’t even aware that it’s a possibility. As you move further along in your career, however, and especially in the IT industry, you realize not only is it a possibility but a major part of the workforce is made up of just that – consultants. But why? As we detailed in a previous blog post, “Flexibility Meets Stability – The Benefits of Contract Work,” working as a consultant has plenty to offer (e.g. higher pay, more exposure to new technologies, a chance to work in different industries, etc.).
While these benefits cannot be overstated, the simple truth is contract work/working as a consultant is not for everyone.
So if you are entertaining the idea of pursuing work as a consultant, ask yourself these three questions first:
What are my career objectives? – In many full time careers, the career ladders tend to lead you towards a role in management. As well they should. Who better to manage a group than someone who has walked in those footsteps and is familiar with the many different day to day challenges and expectations? For many in the tech industry, though, there’s quite a number of those who would rather just stick to technology and focus on growing their skills. Instead of dealing with corporate bureaucracy, and the many meetings that come along with a role in management, you’re instead left alone to deal with what’s hopefully your passion – the technology. Having a job as a consultant will allow you to achieve that.
Do I enjoy diversified challenges? – As we briefly mentioned in our opening paragraph, working as a consultant will expose you to not only new technologies but also a variety of industries. The words stale and consultant do not go hand in hand. By working as a consultant you’re essentially guaranteeing yourself that your skills will remain fresh and that you’ll be able to stay current on the latest and greatest technologies. This can be a challenge though. Having to learn new technologies and always keeping yourself abreast can be a daunting task. But if you’re the sort that enjoys these types of challenges a role as a consultant could be right up your alley.
This is not to say that you cannot achieve these things as a full time salaried employee, however. It’s completely up to the industry and company you’re with. Working as a consultant will just give you a more likely chance.
Is there a specific industry/company that I’m targeting? – Here’s where we get a little more specific. As anybody looking for work can tell you, changing jobs can be a complicated process with many steps. And if you’re narrowing your options to a specific company, or even industry, your ideal job may not be currently available. That’s why a role as a consultant could be your best option. It’s often easier to get yourself in the door as a consultant first and then parlay that work into a full time offer. Instead of dealing with all the risks and costs of making a full time hire, companies can “try before they buy” to find the ideal candidate before making a permanent commitment.
In conclusion, these questions are not the end all be all of what work option would be best for you. They’re meant to give you something to think about before embarking on this career path. But if your answers to these questions align with what we’ve mentioned then a career working as a consultant could be a fulfilling and prosperous career choice.
What did we miss? What other questions should you ask yourself before pursuing a career as a consultant?