The traditional employment model most people grew up with is changing, and that is particularly true in the IT field. More companies are hiring outsource companies to supply labor on a project basis instead of adding staff.
Today companies are constantly looking to cut positions and are hesitant to hire. When they do, they’re as slow and painstaking with the process as possible. All the stresses involved have combined to turn job hunting into a massively frustrating endeavor for anyone who may be out of work and looking for employment.
In the new economy there may be a shortage of jobs, but there’s no shortage of work. That has triggered huge demand for contractors and outsourced labor, a time flush with opportunity for those with an entrepreneurial spirit. To help meet that demand organizations have evolved to match up contractors with companies with projects and to provide a framework for them to participate on a project basis as a consultant.
Getting Started In Consulting
There are two basic ways to get started in consulting: Going out and finding your own customers or working for a company that specializes in supplying contract labor. There are advantages to both approaches.
Working for yourself means working to find new business and pitching your own contracts. You’ll have more expenses for licensing, insurance and billing but get to keep more of the money. Going it alone there are a lot of overhead tasks including reporting, tax forms and contracts that you will need to manage. It’s difficult and time-consuming but plenty of people manage it, like anything it just takes practice.
The other option is working for an outsource IT contracting company as a sub-contractor. Being a contractor can offer a lot of advantages as you have a support organization for some of the of the overhead and for finding contracts. The downside is you’ll get less of the money and most times have to sign a restrictive covenant to prevent competition. The risk here is many of those agreements have language that is so broad that they keep you from working for anyone else. That’s not the intent and it’s usually possible to negotiate the language until it’s more specific. Most times this will be your best option for getting started.
Many of the terms of your relationship will be dictated by IRS regulations that limit the length of jobs and other facets of your contract jobs.
Before You Start
If you’re going to be working anywhere in the IT field, you’ll want to look into E&O insurance. That stands for Errors and Omissions and covers you for mistakes that lead to damage claims. Things like leaving a documented security hole in software or some other oversight.
It doesn’t cost a lot and can save you from potentially crippling damage claims. If you can’t afford it on day one, then the first money you make should pay for it. Some projects will require proof of insurance before work begins.
Where To Find Work
You can find project work on sites like Corp-corp.com and several others. Keep in mind pitching project work is a lot like applying for a job, but more defined. It can take some time to get the hang of pricing project work and you’ll need to keep your skills current.
When you bid project work you want to be focused on the skills for that job. Many times you’ll want to structure your resume as a series of contracts instead of past employers.
Give Yourself an Edge
You have to take into account the cost of living in another city or commuting to where the job is located, so mobility is a big selling point. Maintaining a lifestyle that is conducive to travel will allow you greater freedom to accept jobs in other locations and make you very valuable to companies looking for contract workers.
Pets and other attachments can be very limiting and you’ll have more jobs to choose from staying free of attachments that root you to a specific area, unless that’s a major city with a lot of available work.
To make it in consulting you will be making sacrifices at first, there’s no getting around that. The question you have to ask yourself is do you want to stay mired in the job hunting routine indefinitely or find a way to get out? It’s up to you.