Changing your career can be exciting, confusing and at times scary. You might be thinking:
I want a new job. I want something where I can make an impact, but I don’t want to work my life away. How do I find a job that fits with my life instead of working my life around a job?
Salo Talent Connection Director Colleen Frankwitz’s answer: Have you ever considered consulting?
As Talent Connection Director, Colleen and her team meet with hundreds of people each year looking to make a change in their careers. More people are embracing contract work as a way to gain flexibility and variety in their work, but the consulting stigma still exists.
We sat down with Colleen to discuss what it’s really like to become a consultant.
Why are so many people choosing this career?
Choice. People want to have more choice and control in their careers. Life changes often spark career change, and people become tired of working long hours. They want more time to enjoy other priorities in their lives–family, travel, etc. The other benefit of consulting is that you’re able to decide what work you want to do and when you want to do it. You can choose the projects that fit your skills and focus on work that you are passionate about. People are looking for more meaningful careers, and many find that with consulting.
Don’t people only become consultants if they can’t find a “real job”?
Not at all! People who choose consulting want to continue to be challenged in their careers. They want to make an impact, but also want a greater balance between work and their personal lives. It’s not less strategic; it’s choosing to work in a different way. After all, when you’re a consultant, you are the subject matter expert. Clients look to you to solve their problems. It can be a great career for those who love making an immediate impact.
What kind of work would I be doing? How is consulting different from a full-time role at a company?
Consultants are independent, driven subject matter experts. You work on projects for a designated period of time to solve for a specific client need. With the shortened timeline, it’s important to immediately add value, which can be different than a corporate role where you may have a longer timeline to execute projects. You also develop relationships differently as a consultant. You have to build trust with clients more quickly; whereas when working in corporate teams, you can develop relationships over a longer period of time. You approach work in a different way as a consultant, but as a result, you’re able to see your immediate impact.
What about pay and benefits? Would I still be able to support my family?
You can still grow financially as a consultant. Your hourly wage allows you to earn overtime, and companies like Salo offer benefits options for consultants. There can be some trade-offs and things you may have to shift your mindset on from a full-time role. You have to decide what’s important to you. What are you willing to trade to have more flexibility and choice in your career? What do you need to be happy and successful?
How do I know if I’d be a good consultant?
As with any job, you should make sure it matches your values. What kind of work makes you happiest? Do you enjoy flexibility and variety? Consultants typically love to learn and are naturally curious. They can adapt quickly to different situations and challenges, and like to brainstorm ideas for change, as well as, solutions.
If you’re thinking about consulting, ask yourself:
- Do I thrive on solving problems?
- Am I resourceful?
- Do I crave variety?
- Am I comfortable with a certain level of ambiguity?
- Do I enjoy being a subject matter expert?
How can I learn more about life as a consultant?
Check out Forbes’ article about becoming a consultant. It’s a great resource. It’s also all about connecting. Talk with someone who’s currently a consultant. At Salo we’re happy to help connect you and explore different career possibilities.