Getting Hired After Being a Free Agent
Five Tips for Transitioning Consultants, Freelancers
By Robert DiGiacomo
After being a successful consultant who helped clients solve key problems, realize specific outcomes and maximize profitability, you may find it challenging to land a full-time job.
Will employers value you as a focused self-starter? Or will they have concerns that you won't fit in with the team?
The good news is that you -- and your resume -- are likely to find a receptive audience among recruiters seeking experienced professionals who can address specific company needs. (That's provided you're a legitimate consultant, and not just trying to fill a gap in your work history.)
"There's a much faster transition from full-time consulting to full-time gigs, and I don't think there's the barrier or walls there used to be," says career coach Matt Youngquist, principal of Career Horizons. "It's kind of a revolving door, as far as I'm concerned."
Here are tips on how to best market your consulting experience to prospective employers.
1. There's No 'I' in Team
Emphasize your ability to adapt to a range of workplace cultures.
"Generally, consultants tend to be really good team players because they've had to be," says Andrea Hoban, a regional manager with Robert Half International, whose seven divisions offer staffing services in areas such as accounting and finance and information technology. "They're used to working in strange environments and making things happen, which makes them really good collaborators. That's a good quality to have in an employee, too."
2. Good Work Habits Are Good Work Habits, Period
Even if your position is short term, act as if you have a long-term investment in a company, according to Katie Katz, a Chicago-based market sales director for Aquent, a major marketing and creative staffing agency.
"Always go to work with a positive attitude, be very professional in your dealings with everyone, be on time and be very ethical in your work habits," Katz says.
3. Can You Demonstrate Return on Investment (ROI)?
Showing on your resume how you solved a particular problem or generated savings for a client will help establish your credentials.
"If they can show ROI and what they were able to accomplish in a bullet format, that jumps off the page," Hoban says.
4. Get Technical
If you are an expert in a particular aspect of your profession, such as compliance with the Sarbanes-Oxley Act with corporate accounting, or possess knowledge of certain software applications or protocols, spell out this expertise.
"The more specific you can be about what you did and your role in it, the more excited a potential employer will be about what they're reading," Hoban says.
5. Be Authentic
Whether your reasons for moving from freelance to full-time work are financial or career-driven, be upfront about them.
"Employers are looking for people who are in control of their careers and lives," Youngquist says. "[The reasons for job hunting] could be 'I want to be part of a team,' or 'I want to be able to stick around and see my great advice take root.' They just have to be able to understand the story, and how at this time a company's goals and an individual's goals align.".