Over the years, one of the most common questions we get asked is, “What are the advantages of being a consultant over a full-time employee?” While those advantages are often in the eye of the beholder, we’re taking the month of May to highlight several of our consultant’s stories and how they came to work for Horizontal Talent. We’re hoping this offers some unique perspectives that might help others who are considering consulting.
Please meet Melissa Books. Melissa is a Sr. Principal IT Project Lead for one of our largest clients. She works implementing global IT programs, leading the business and IT areas through global rollouts of new systems and processes.
Melissa wasn’t always a contractor. “I started as a contractor because my current job was being eliminated,” she said. “Contracting was not something that came first to mind as I was looking for a position, but it was a good opportunity to do project management in a new industry.”
Contracts aren’t just short-term assignments
Since then, Melissa has had two contract roles, both in project management, that each lasted two years. “The longer contracts give me the opportunity to learn about the company and also about the system,” she said. “It is good to create new networks and new knowledge. I also consider shorter projects but within the same company.”
The pros and cons
One benefit, says Melissa, is “the opportunity to work on many different projects within different industries, learning along the way.” Flexibility is also key. “If you want to take a break between assignments (2 weeks to 1 month), most contract companies are flexible.”
One downside, for some, is that benefits aren’t always guaranteed. “Depending on the company, some offer benefits like health insurance, and others don’t. It just depends on your personal needs if this is a pro or con.”
We asked Melissa what makes someone best suited for contract work, and for her, flexibility has been key. “Contractors should be flexible, willing and ready to learn quickly, and available quickly,” she said. “It is important to be willing to jump right in and ask questions.”
Melissa also believes this is why so many more people are choosing consulting as a career. “I think there is more flexibility to contract work and more choices in opportunities. There are opportunities to expand knowledge and your network.”
Culture matters for the entire workforce
Company culture is an important component no matter how your work — be it full-time, part-time, consultant, or as an independent contractor. Employers must recognize as the workforce changes, their culture must adapt. “It’s not hard to get involved and learn the company culture if you are eager to learn and ask questions,” Melissa explained. “People are very willing to tell you the company culture if you ask. Ask for advice or opinions, and you’ll soon have a good network and insight on the company.”