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How to make the transition from business consultant to employee

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I’ve read a few articles about the problems of reintegration; we’ve all worked with an ex-consultant who talked to themselves! But one of the biggest challenges facing consultants wanting to return to permanent work lies in landing the role in the first place.

Consider an employer’s perspective

Ten, or even five, years out of an office environment raises questions that simply don’t apply to candidates that have always been permanently employed. There’s the fear that a former consultant will find ‘having a boss’ too constrictive, for example.

Then there’s the risk that they will jump ship as soon as a better freelance opportunity comes along. So what can the consultant do to counter these negatives and make themselves an attractive proposition to permanent employers?

A strong and relevant CV

Your CV needs to convey that you are “organisation ready” whilst showing strong career development throughout your consultancy period. Highlighting skills and experience that are a both transferrable and that differentiate you as a candidate, such as sales and business development, will help to attract attention.

Why are you leaving freelance?

Any prospective employer will want to know why you are returning to permanent employment, and you need to talk persuasively to assuage potential fears. To get past this loaded gun it is essential to be open, honest and empathetic. Whether you’re looking for more stability, you want to focus on the job rather than sourcing freelance work or you feel you work better as part of a team, you need to make sure your answer is viable.

Show off the skills and experiences unique to consultants. Self-reliance, a motivated personality and a can-do attitude are essential skills for a consultant. Demonstrate tangible ways these traits have assisted you and will, in turn, benefit their business and bottom line. This will ensure you stand out from permanently-employed candidates in a positive way.

Add value

Highlighting industry-specific conferences and training you have undertaken with your flexible time or discussing the impressive network you have grown will add value to your application.

Talk about effective work processes you have developed and key professional relationships that could also benefit the team you hope to work with. The cherry on the cake may well be the lure of ‘bringing business with you’, consider current clients that would be happy to have their business transferred.

Ultimately, the decision to work as a consultant or freelance is a personal one. By following the steps above you will make yourself a stronger candidate in both consultancy and permanent roles, helping you to move forward with your career.

Sinead Hasson is MD of specialist recruitment consultancy Hasson Associates

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