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What to Consider When Getting Started as an IT Consultant

Before I became a recruiter in the IT consulting industry, I was a recruiter for full-time, permanent positions and perceived consulting as high risk and unstable. (Even when my husband became an independent consultant, my mind could not be changed!) However, it wasn’t long into my new role hiring Project Management consultants that my perspective quickly changed. Working as a consultant allows professionals to quickly build new skills, experience new industries and when the market permits, earn better money.


Below are five of the most common questions I hear from candidates who are considering making the move to consulting:

How long is the down time between projects? 

Over the course of a career, most consultants have experienced periods of unemployment between projects.  Depending on how marketable your skills and industry experiences are, you can typically expect 1-3 months of down time between client projects. At Genesis10, we reach out to our consultants prior to the end of their current engagement to begin the remarketing process. This means that we begin identifying clients and roles our consultants are interested in so we can start working on placing them in their next role before their current engagement ends.

How do I get paid? 

This is a critical question because every consulting firm pays differently. You must be informed about how much and how frequently you get paid so you can plan financially.  Consulting firms will pay consultants as often as weekly to monthly. How overtime is paid may vary. Receiving PTO or paid holidays varies. Some firms or clients only allow you to work as a W2 consultant (hourly employee of the firm); others only allow you to be an independent consultant (where you are required to set up a SCorp, CCorp, LLC or LLP). Your hourly pay rate will vary based on your skills and how much the client will pay for the job. Always confirm the rate you will be paid prior to giving a consulting firm permission to present your resume to a role.

Are my skills marketable? 

The fair answer is, it depends. Most consulting firms have a variety of clients and projects across industries and business units with varying rates.  I always say the right job is out there, it just depends on how long the candidate wants to wait for it.  A better question to ask a recruiter is, “Where have you recently placed consultants with similar skills?” This will give you a more accurate idea of where a consulting firm will most likely have jobs for you. I recommend a that a candidate have relationships multiple consulting firms to ensure they have access to all clients in their local market where they could be a potential fit.

Will I know where my resume is being presented? 

A trustworthy consulting firm will never present your resume to a job without first asking your permission, showing you the complete job description and discussing the rate.  It is appropriate to ask the firm not to send your resume before asking your permission first. Some consultants also will only use one firm per employer (depending on the company size and access to projects).

What makes your consulting firm different?

In some ways, consulting firms are similar.  All consulting firms follow a staffing process, and if in the same consulting space, work on similar jobs with comparable rates.  And yet, after talking with hundreds of candidates every year, I believe there can be big differences. Some firms offer the highest rates but less desirable work environments. Some firms are quick to get you an interview. And some offer quality projects/clients the first time but are not good at remarketing you for your next project. I recommend to all consultants to identify your job search priorities then chose the consulting firms that best align to your objectives.

Since becoming an IT consulting recruiter, my eyes have been opened to the benefits of consulting. I’ve seen firsthand professionals develop new skills in a short period of time and make great money.  What about the risks that worried me as a corporate recruiter?  Many first time consultants tell me they feel empowered, not hindered, by the variety of project-based work. If you are considering consulting for the first time, I hope you find these tips useful during your career transition.