All I'm Saying is Give Consulting a Chance

I have to say, as I’m sure I’ve said before, I really don’t understand some candidates’ partiality to Full Time Employment, to the exclusion of even speaking with recruiters about consulting assignments.

I understand that the norm in the consulting world has changed a lot since I was on assignment – with client sites implementing Vendor Management systems and seeming to value finding the lowest cost resource over finding the best qualified resource. The consulting firms chosen as ‘primary’ must offer universe-wide toll-free 24-7-365 customer service in English, in addition to cut-rate labor in English. I appreciate that an attempt to squeeze a fatter slim margin will require providing only the most basic and government regulated services to the Cost Centers (contract employees). Leaving project professionals, who are used to full corporate benefits and PTO, facing the insult of being asked to take pay cuts plus being paid hourly with no benefits or time off.

Additionally there is the indignity of being pimped out to the client site, with never a call or a kiss, until the day your assignment comes due – maybe you were notified, maybe not – and you’re unceremoniously escorted from the building. Then, after providing a consistent income stream for the life of your assignment, you aren’t even sure if the firm is working to land you another assignment, during which they would continue make money on you while providing no evidence of support.

I understand the ugly truth prevalent in the market. However, it doesn’t have to be that way.

In my own experience I was brought on as an FTE of my consulting firm, with benefits and PTO -- salary plus paid time after 40. When my assignments were 45-ish days from complete I was marketed throughout our client sites as a consultant with strong skills and good work ethic. I had very little downtime, I took vacations, I had my teeth cleaned. I felt like an FTE because I was an FTE. My former teammate who brought me to this company was on multiple assignments – in the same client corporation – uninterrupted for 14 years. That is stability – and that is loyalty.

We still operate that same way. And other firms, smaller firms with surprisingly good customer service and employee relations goals, still operate that way. We’re out there.

Maybe the candidates are still glutted from the generous severance package they received from their most recent former employer. Maybe they believe that these severances will continue to be the norm. I can’t see how that can possibly be true.

We’ve all watched the economic news over the past year. Banks being bailed out and obliged to accept oversight. Other corporations are accepting government money. Companies are failing. The trickle-down effect is weakening downstream business. And the layoffs and RIFs and outsourcing continue. Profits are way down.

Corporations will soon reach a point where they can’t afford to provide severance for laid off workers who’ve only been working there 25 months. If they could afford that, they would just keep you.

So, if you’re going to be looking for a job every 24 months anyway, why not be a consultant and have someone else look for you a new assignment every 18 months. Especially when good consultants with great work ethics can often find interesting assignments in consulting even in bad economy. I can honestly say over the past 12 months we have had dozens of consultants in our office have had to choose between multiple consulting offers.

I don’t know, maybe I haven’t made a strong enough point. But I am convinced that consulting is the way this economy is going. And maybe some candidates should try to be a little more open minded about the possibilities.

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