One of the most exciting times during a person’s career is receiving an offer letter that happens to spell out a nice salary and is from a company for which that person will be thrilled to work.
However, with this sense of accomplishment and elation should also come some caveats. The company may not be a strong fit no matter how well the job requisition and interview process seemed to indicate so. The politics of the organization may be tumultuous and that is why it was eager to hire at a high salary. In fact, even if everything is initially rosy at the new position, there is a chance that the company is not truly paying what it really can and that the work could eventually be a career dead end. These are the risks of accepting a “permanent” position.
Fortunately, the professional world (especially IT) is starting to embrace consulting. Professionals with enterprise-class skill sets can get matched up on short-term contracts that fit perfectly with their abilities and step in on a “hired gun” basis in order fulfill a company’s needs. Although in practice the actual course of working as a consultant may not feel all that different from being permanent, it comes with noticeably less strings attached and three very important benefits:
In the high earning world of salaried professionals, overtime is a given. An employee is expected to put in as many hours as needed to get projects done and keep things on track. Too much overtime, however, can end up devaluing an employee’s labor and harming his or her personal life. Consultants, however, are typically paid on an hourly basis – at a rate that they are free to set and negotiate – and therefore get to see monetary reward for every hour of hard work they put in. This often comes at the expense of paid vacation and sick time, but the rates are generally good enough that it is easy to go out-of-pocket for extended periods of time.
Short term contracts give an employee the ability to plan a career in stages and devote levels of time to relaxation and recharging that you rarely find in the US workforce. It is not uncommon for consultants to take six months off between contracts – sometimes even spending that time on a skiing or surfing vacation. That time can also be used for personal projects and additional career development. It is also quite lucrative for a consultant to accept one contract after another without breaks, but the advantage here is that the choice is entirely up to the consultant.
3) Learning New Skills:
Though a permanent position may offer security and stability, the job is only as unshakable as the market. New skills come into vogue very rapidly, and a person could very suddenly end up being laid off if there is a more economical alternative to what they offer. This is why the ability to adapt is one of the most sought-after qualities in the business world.
On the opposite side of the spectrum, there are those who have weathered changes in the market for many years and have almost become institutions unto themselves within their companies. These employees have found a path to long-term security, but most often it turns out that their skills and ideas are stagnant compared to the wider professional world.
Consulting allows a person to avoid either of these extremes. Moving between different organizations periodically gives a professional both the joy and added value of learning new skills. Given that adaptability is so important in the business world, it is more than healthy for a professional to develop a taste for variety.
Contact us to learn more about being a consultant and how it may be the right choice in your professional development.
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