Is consulting a good option?

by Joe
(FL)

I’m wondering if consulting would be a good option at my stage and age?

-Joe

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Aug 12, 2019
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by: Michael

Hi Joe...Thank you for your submission.

This is a great question. Consulting can certainly be a great option for you especially if over 50, have had a hard time getting any traction interviewing.

It's a great way to show an organization what you can do, and also provides you the opportunity to "test" the organization out as well.

One of the biggest assets that us older workers have is our tribal knowledge the industry – its challenges and issues.

Certainly, they can hire a younger, cheaper employee, but an older worker who has been with a company 10, 15, 20 or more years has developed long-standing relationships with clients and other influential people in the industry.

Becoming a mentor and trusted advisor means that you can and are willing to pass along knowledge and connections to younger employees – of which could be your younger boss.

Businesses often hire consultants to supplement their staff and save the costs of hiring a full-time employee. For those of us over 50, this can be a particularly lucrative endeavor, but there certain pitfalls and drawbacks that you need to know before just jumping into this career path.

Ok...Now the Pitfalls.

Starting a career or transitioning into consultancy is a great choice (and sometimes the ONLY choice for those of us over 50), but there are certain pitfalls and drawbacks that you need to be aware of and avoid.

There are basically two career options in consulting: generalist or specialist.

Not surprisingly, specialists apply specialized process and functional knowledge to real organizations with real problems. It's great work that offers clear value to many organizations. Without doubt, the hottest area in consulting today is informational technology - and because, just like a doctor, being a specialist, you'll get paid a lot more and have more steady work assignments.

A generalist on the other hand, tend to fill staffing gaps or manage a specific project, like a the integration of a software package. While generalists, may not make as much as a specialist, they also tend to have a better chance to get into an organization and add value not only for the role you were brought in for, but for the many other business problems that a company may be facing.

While being a job consultant may seem like an ideal career choice, particularly if you enjoy the idea of being your own boss, have a strong resume or CV, picking your assignments and making your own hours certainly can seem appealing.

However there are a few drawbacks...such as:

- Job security (you'll may be a contract worker, and contracts can lose funding if government funded)

- Benefits (you'll need to purchase your own, which can be expensive)

- Hours (since your mission is to solve a problem at all costs, consultancy is NOT a stable 9 to 5 job)

- Travel can be daunting

- Income gaps (you MUST learn to manage your cash flow, there WILL gaps between assignments)

- Turnover (if you are not QUICKLY seen as the solution providing immediate impact...it's be next man up)

- Pressure and Stress levels (due to ALL the above, life as a consultant can be stressful)

A consultant is paid for helping businesses attain goals and solve problems.

So YES, especially for those of us over 50, this can be a particularly lucrative endeavor with all of our gained experience, but just be aware of and prepare for the possible pitfalls, stressors and drawbacks.

Thank you

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