Career Planning

What to do when you are going from Consulting back to Full Time Employment

1. Don’t undersell yourself – If you are looking to use consulting to find full-time employment at a target company, don’t undervalue your services. A common tendency is to lowball your salary, since you were (presumably) making so much more as a consultant. Don’t! Don’t assume that you will be able to enter at, say, director level, and then dazzle your employer into naming you vice president. It doesn’t work that way. Don’t expect less and don’t dumb-down your resume to try to make yourself a better candidate for a job. Instead, do your homework, understand the needs, position yourself accordingly and demonstrate the greater value you will bring to the team and the company.

2. Some companies welcome a professional in transition and look for potential: look for aptitudes and attitude, while others want someone who is tried and true and will fit seamlessly into a very specific role with very specific experience.  Sell your value proposition. Understand what your target audience needs and don’t focus on what you have achieved, but point to what you can achieve and how you will add to the goals and bottom line. Promote yourself as if you were indispensable!

3. Apply the right interview strategies – If you are seeking to transition from a consulting role to full-time employment, you have to think differently in the interview. Consider if it is a good cultural fit (80% of a hire decision and success in a position and team is chemistry).  Understand and demonstrate how you fit in with the team. Avoid the “I want or I need” approach and focus on the company and how you fit in, how you will help them meet and exceed goals and objectives and what value you offer.  Never Forget: an interview is not about you; it is about understanding your target audience, the perceived needs and how you can meet those.  It is not about you.  Because you need to understand how the target audience perceives you and how you will be able to meet the team’s needs, and especially because the majority of a hire decision is chemistry, don’t make the interview about you; engage the interviewer in conversation and ask “what are your performance objectives, what are you looking to achieve long term and short term for the group, what do you see as the key challenges ahead, etc.”   Listen to the answers: this should provide you with the blueprint for your interaction and responses. Turn the interview into a conversation focused on finding ways to meet the goals of the interviewer and team.

4. Contract or career? – Occasionally, when you are interviewing for potential positions, you realize the role is better suited to a consulting contract than a full-time job.  Your best course of action depends on many things: you will have to assess from the conversation if you want the position as a contract position or as a permanent position and you will have to explore if the team has considered the position as a possible contract position.  If you think there is a greater potential of you being hired as a consultant than a permanent employee (especially if you have a suite of skills that might fall short on specific experience for the perceived needs of the position, or if you think that the hiring team might have some doubts about your ability to perform in the position and with the team),  then sell your skills for the specific needs for the project or contract perspective and prove yourself or find out if the company and team is really right for you and broaden the role by contributing beyond the project parameters.  Never sell yourself short! Explain how you can not only do the job at hand, but so much more besides. If it’s not worth full time consideration, then start negotiating that consulting contract. There are several good books on this topic, one is Jack Chapman’s “Negotiating your Salary: How to make $1000 a Minute.”

When you are interviewing for a job, in all likelihood you are going to be compared with at least 3 or more equally qualified professionals.  You need to stand out to win.  You can do that best by thoroughly understanding the needs of the hiring manager/s and positioning yourself and your abilities to meet or exceed those perceived needs.  Make sure that you are extremely well prepared: never go into an interview without having gone well beyond what you can find on the internet about the company and the team and the individual’s backgrounds.  Pick up the phone, call the junior people in the department and ask for their perspectives, buy and push the edges of the envelope of the product or service.  Make sure you lead with sincere compliments about team achievements and ask for the list of goals/ objectives/ challenges above.  Make sure that you follow up with a thoughtful and personalized thank you note/ letter.  Make sure that it is very professionally written, make sure that it conveys value, respect, understanding.  Make sure that you convey that you are extremely interested in the position and in joining the team and make sure that you reiterate how you will be able to enhance the team’s performance in meeting those goals and objectives.  When an interviewer has been talking with a lot of people who are interviewing for the same position, with the same background, same experiences, etc. it’s like the dog in the Gary Larson cartoon who only hears Blah, Blah, Blah, Ginger, Blah, Blah, Blah. It all sounds the same, with only a sound bite or two catching their attention. Your can significantly change that experience by doing the above and doing it well.  Remember, it isn’t about you, it is always about your target audience’s perceived needs and then positioning yourself to meet and exceed those.

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