Ever been sitting at work and start daydreaming something along the lines of:
Wouldn’t it be great to break free from this corporate job? To be a consultant with the flexibility to choose the work you do and when you do it? There’d be more time for family and friends … a break from office politics … new work challenges … maybe actual time to travel …
For many people—especially people in job functions like accounting, finance, and HR—consulting seems like a pipe dream. After all, there are so many questions about how it works in real life. As a talent connection manager at Salo, I help people in finance, accounting and HR decide whether consulting is a good option for them.
So, without further ado, here are the (short) answers to the top 10 questions people ask when considering consulting.
1. How would I get benefits, like healthcare and PTO?
There are several different options. If you work with a talent firm, they often provide benefits. At Salo, we provide access to health, dental, vision, PTO, and more. If you go out on your own, there are ways to get coverage. With a little research, you can find a plan from the government or a private insurer.
2. Will consulting hurt my career?
Definitely not! Because you’ll experience a variety of organizations and industries; you’ll acquire the versatility today’s companies want most in diverse technological environments—making you a well-rounded candidate for future roles. Plus, you can often make an impact immediately in consulting and thus acquire ample experience in an abbreviated timeframe.
3. Would a permanent role be better?
This depends on the individual and where each person is in their career. Whenever I talk to people considering consulting, we always discuss that there are seasons in everyone’s career as well as personal life that lend themselves to consulting. But don’t be afraid! For most, they think consulting is synonymous with travel or downtime, but this is not the case for most of our consultants and many working this way today. And while I could really expand on this, one thing to keep in mind is that even if you try and for whatever reason don’t like the work, office environment, or culture; it’s only temporary, and you can always go back to a permanent role!
4. What if I’ve never been a consultant before?
Clients love consultants with prior corporate experience. If you’ve spent your career “on the inside,” you’ve likely acquired a wide range of technical skills—and people skills—required to succeed in similar environments. Unlike career consultants, you’ve had to make decisions and live with them, fix stuff when it gets broken, or figure out how to work the system to get results. Those experiences will make you a better consultant. Sure, there will be a learning curve as you start consulting, but that’s true in any new job.
5. How many hours a week (or weeks a year) will I have to work?
This is really up to you because you get to choose what projects you take. You can decide how much you want to work and (by extension) how much money you want to make per year. Many consulting jobs follow a normal full-time workweek, but there are all sorts of arrangements. You could have a three-month project that’s forty hours a week or two projects at 15 hours a week—it depends on what projects are available and how you want to approach the work. You get to choose what’s right for you.
6. If I want a permanent role after I consult, who will give me references?
You’ll have contacts from all of the organizations you worked for as a consultant. You can decide which past clients to ask for references based on the job you’re trying to get. Additionally, if you work with a talent firm, the internal staff can vouch for your work. (And, the best part is, you won’t even have to hide the job interviews from a current employer.)
7. Will I have to travel a lot?
Again, this depends on the types of assignments you accept. Assuming you live in a metropolitan area, there are usually consulting opportunities close to home. If you want to travel, those jobs are out there, too. You just need to decide how much travel works for your lifestyle.
8. Am I too old to be a consultant?
The key to consulting is valuable experience. It’s likely more years you’ve worked the greater experience you have. Additionally, those with more tenure in the workforce tend to be great collaborators, communicators, and self-motivators—all important qualities for a consultant. In fact, at our firm, Salo, we specialize in senior-level consultants. Check out my article on why Gen-X should consider consulting. (It’s good if you’re older than GenX, too ?)
9. What kind of work will I do?
This depends on your skillset, preferences, and goals. The one sure thing is that you’ll get variety—it could be a variety of project types, industries, organizational structures, or all of the above. You can tailor the work to your interests.
10. Should I work with a talent firm or go out on my own?
Owning your own consulting business can be rewarding, but you’ll be responsible for all aspects of the business—from sales and contracts to billing—not to mention doing the actual consulting. A talent firm takes care of many of the business aspects of consulting, so you can focus on the work you love. For example, a talent firm can:
- Find you clients and projects
- Arrange all of the interviews, contracts, and logistics
- Help you decide what kinds of projects are advantageous to your career and lifestyle
- Ensure you’re paid market rate and paid on time
- Run interference if there are problems at any time during the assignment
- Provide benefits and PTO
If you made it through this list of questions, and you’re interested in learning more about finance, accounting, and HR consulting, connect with me on LinkedIn for more information. I’d love to tailor the answers to these questions—and any others you might have—to your specific situation. Consulting can be more than daydream; it can be your reality!