The benefits of being an independent consultant are numerous, but as with everything, there are risks associated with these rewards. One of the main concerns for consultants is in the lack of stability in fixed term contract assignments and the unknown of where or when they will find their next engagement. For those who do venture into the uncertainty of consulting, there are a number of ways to mitigate the risk of prolonged, unwelcomed gaps between contracts. We’ve identified four main areas to discuss for the sake of this article. Hopefully there are a couple of takeaways that can help you stay busy!
Get referred by coworkers and peers
Being referred by previous coworkers is one of the best ways to find your next contract. Recruiting firms and health systems rely heavily on the word of professionals who they know and trust. In fact, 20% of Greythorn North America’s candidates last year were referred to us by a trusted source.
How do I get referred?
Look for opportunities to build your resume
Certifications and Credentials are often held in contempt by those who do not have them. Although there may be truth that most certifications do not adequately measure the level of competence, they are commonly required in certain industries. In some cases, recruiters and hiring authorities will not consider anyone who doesn’t hold a specific certification and many times, a certification is the edge that gets you the interview.
Diversify your skill set. Look for opportunities to get your hands on new technologies. A lot of times, your best opportunity is to impress the team at your current engagement with your work and ask if they would be willing to move you on to a project that would expand your skills. Be careful not to jump around too much or could find yourself losing future contracts to experts who stayed more focused.
One page resumes are no longer a necessity. Recent college grads are the only people who still need to live by this rule. By no means should you include everything you have ever done, but when in doubt – include it. Keep it brief with anything more than 10 years ago. If it’s irrelevant, leave it off together.
Working well with recruiters
Choosing the right recruiter is important. You can help yourself choose the right recruiters by asking others in your network, doing your research - view their LinkedIn profile to see years of experience and take a peek at their company web site, developing a list of qualifying questions that are important to you, and simply use your intuition to tell you who you trust and enjoy working with.
Keep a list of recruiters who you want to work with in the future. Even when you are not available, it is a good idea to track the good ones who you can reach out to when the time is right.
Be honest and forthcoming when working with a recruiter. There is no situation that a professional recruiter will hold against you as long as you have been up front throughout the process. Following this guideline will go a long way to protecting your reputation in the industry.
Market yourself online
Over 60% of our successful placements come from online sources. Marketing yourself online is one of the most important parts of keeping yourself consistently engaged from one contract to the next.
How can I better market myself online?
As an independent consultant, there can be no guarantee that the perfect position will be waiting for you from one contract to the next. However, if you are good at what you do and regularly apply all of the concepts discussed in this article, then you will position yourself ahead of the competition.