There’s a lot of talk these days about taking on consulting roles when a permanent one just isn’t available. Although I understand the strategy, I do think the advice can be a bit flippant, as if being a consultant should just be a temporary thing and is only a means to an end. The problem is that being a consultant is really about being an entrepreneur, about running a business. And that is something that most people coming out of the corporate mindset have little experience with.

If you try to take on consulting work as just a side gig and, therefore, fail to approach it like a business, you will quickly realize that you are either selling yourself short or in over your head.

Consulting Is Work, Hard Work

As someone who has spent 9 years consulting, I can tell you it is the hardest work I have ever done. And it did not get easier until I started treating it like a real business. So I am not quick to advise my clients to jump into consulting roles as a simple stop-gap measure. First, it is insulting to all those who do consulting on a full-time basis (and very much see it as a “permanent” job). Second, not everyone is best suited for an entrepreneurial role.

Transitioning Out of Consulting Is Not Always That Easy

Third, it can be a tremendous challenge for someone whose background has been as an independent contractor or consultant, especially if it has been for an extensed period of time. Their positions tend to be short term in nature. Thus, when they go for an executive or management role, it usually results in their resume being excluded from consideration during the HR screening process.

The main reasons are:
1.The resume indicates job hopping.
2.The resume is not effectively branded for a corporate executive leadership role.
3.The resume is so long that most people won’t want to read it.

Show You’re a Team Player

Creating an effective technical resume for an executive-level candidate that has been an IT consultant or contractor (the background of my clients) is not impossible. Creating common entries and listing client engagements within the entry can improve the appearance of longevity and help to streamline the resume so that all the appropriate information can be presented in 3 pages or less.

By focusing on what you achieved at each client, it places the emphasis of your experience on the elements that will resonate best with hiring executives and recruiters. Highlighting some of these key ingredients in the resume’s executive summary will help focus your message to the reader more clearly, creating a compelling value proposition as a technical executive.

Also, reinforcing the idea that just because you were “independent” once doesn’t mean you don’t know how to join and participate in a team.

So before you rush off to be a consultant, take some time and really think it through. What if you can’t transition into a “permanent” corporate role anytime soon? Do you know how to run a business effectively? Are you committed to providing a top-notch service and to fulfilling your commitments all the way, not just until you get a job?