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Question for RecruitGal

 
#1 Question for RecruitGal
05/04/2006 16:19

Crispin

Dear RG,

How easy is it to move from contracting into consulting? What kind of background is generally considered to be of interest?

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#2 Contracting to Consulting
05/04/2006 16:59

RecruitGal

Hi Crispin - thanks for your question. The headline answer is (as always) 'it depends'.

I interview a lot of independent contractors for permanent roles in my firm, and to be honest only about 10% hit the mark in terms of what we are looking for. In comparison, around a quarter of people who are already in consulting roles make it through our assessment process.

Why the lower 'hit rate'? Well there are a number of things at play (my fellow recruiters can no doubt expand on these comments)

A lot depends on how long you have been contracting - if you've been an independent contractor for 10 years, you may find it something of a shock to go back into an environment where you are no longer in charge of when, where and how you work. Contractors often don't understand the reality of what working in a consulting firm is like.

What types of clients have you been working with? Local non-profit organisations, or big multinational companies? When a firm hires you, they are also effectively buying your contact list. Are you able to bring some contacts and opportunities to the table?

How up to date are you in developments in your area of expertise? As an independent, your own development often takes a back seat as you focus on getting your next job. You may consider yourself a subject matter expert, but there is a strong chance that your knowledge will be several years behind the times.

As a contractor you haven't necessarily worked with people who are better than you - this makes it very difficult for you to really assess how you are doing. With nobody there to challenge you and push you harder, it's easy to get complacent about how effective you really are.

If you are quite senior, you need to think about business development. Have you been billing the kind of figures that we would require of you? You might be quite pleased that you billed over £100k last year, but we'd be looking more than £1m.

Which leads us on to the thing that contractors are often very unrealistic about. Money. They think that billing £100k should equate to a salary of a similar amount. Nope. I would expect one of my junior consultants to be billing that kind of amount, and I can pay them £50k.

Having said all that, we do get absolute gems who come from the contracting route. My best advice to you is to do associate work with one of the big consulting firms. Get on projects where you are working with consultants - good consultants preferably! Prove yourself on one of their projects and get one of the team to refer you to the recruiters. It's far and away the best way to get your foot in the door.

In terms of what background is going to be of interest? It depends on the firm. Some are very technology focused, some like people to be very strategic, some like the touchy-feely end of consulting. They'll all be looking for different things.

Wow, that was a rambling response. Sorry...

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#3 Re: Contracting to Consulting
05/04/2006 17:26

Crispin

RG,

Thanks for taking the time to respond at length. I am considering attempting to make the move and your outlook will prove invaluable. As if by pure chance, I turnover around the 100k mark (I realise this is not in itself especially remarkable) so your comments are especially relevant to me.

In terms of professional development and subject matter expertise, I actually consider myself to be up-to-date. I have undergone regular professional training and have spent the last nine months working alongside (and managed) a number of ex big 4 contractors and in my opinion, I measure up well.

However, in terms of client list I may well fall short as my assignments have been long and small in number.

However, the application process in itself may well be a positive learning experience in itself.

Thanks again.....the big C.

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