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7 Factors to Weigh Before Consulting

If you're a senior professional with a healthy network, chances are good that the time you spend between full-time jobs will include opportunities for free-lance work. (I've reaped the benefits myself: My own active job search before TheLadders featured consulting gigs that earned good money and taught me new things.)

Consulting is a wonderful bridge that fills gaps in your resume and may lead to a full-time position. You may even decide that the flexibility and earning potential of self-employment is attractive enough to pursue as an end in itself.

If your goal is ultimately a salaried position, however, too much consulting can divert you from your search. In an article titled "7 Steps to Consider Before You Start Consulting," Patty Orsini spoke with Cheri Paulson, senior vice president of Keystone Associates, a Boston career management and transition firm.

Paulson recommends her clients consider the following factors before accepting consulting work:

  1. Does it still give me time to be flexible in my job search?
  2. Would I learn anything new that I can use to showcase my skills and experience?
  3. Does the firm have cachet in the marketplace? Would it give me brand recognition by affiliating with the project?
  4. Am I going to be around great people with whom to network?
  5. Is it geographically reasonable? If it requires you to be on the road more than a few days every week, your job search will falter.
  6. Is the compensation worth my time?
  7. Can I protect my client list? Be sure that you are not being asked to give away your clients. "Those clients are something you may need to get you to your next job," Paulson said.
Bottom line: Enjoy your options, and make the most of them. But don't let your career-management plans falter in pursuit of stop-gap consulting opportunities.