Outsourcing

Opinions vary on permanent work vs. consulting

Readers sounded off on a recent article that explored the benefits and drawbacks of both permanent work and consulting. Read what they had to say.

The IT industry is filled with professionals who have left full-time, permanent jobs in the corporate sector in favor of consulting work. There are also quite a few who have given up the consulting game to return to the steadier pace of a permanent position.

We heard from TechRepublic members on both sides of the fence in response to a recent article by John Andre, “Should you take that permanent job offer?”. Andre shared his thoughts on the advantages and low points of both consulting and permanent jobs. Respondents’ opinions varied greatly—some sang the praises of a stable workload and steady paycheck, while others touted the freedom and flexibility that consulting offers.

The pros of permanent jobs
Taras Pich prefers permanent employment because it offers access to a broader career path. “If you pick the right company, you know you can advance,” Pich wrote. “As a consultant, it's difficult to break into the next level where you're untested, like going from analyst to project manager.”

For those considering the transition from consulting to a permanent job, Jim Brent recommends looking into the professional development policies of the prospective company. “You may have great training benefits, but are you allowed to use them?” Brent wrote. “You may find that you’re allowed two weeks of training and all expenses to boot, but try to find somebody who wasn't overloaded with too many projects to actually take the classes that were allowed.”

Acclaim for consulting
On the other side of the coin, A. Rendall accepted a permanent position and regrets the decision. “The employer feels like they can dictate your life, and you belong to them now,” Rendall extolled. “They listened to me as a consultant, but as an employee I’m seen and not heard.”

David agrees that consulting is a better choice because it offers exposure and experience with the newest technologies. “My current client is paying me to learn a new scripting language, while maintaining their legacy code. There is no two-week training class that can match six to 12 months of on-the-job experience,” he wrote.

While many would argue that a permanent position offers more stability than consulting, Todd S. believes that the latter is the truly secure vocation. “No one can fire me or lay me off, I manage my own hours, decide what expenses are deductible (with IRS rules), have a self-directed pension plan where large amounts of pre-tax money are placed in an account, and I decide when to draw retirement,” Todd wrote. “In the past, I worked for three large corporations and was always treated as expendable even when I performed year after year. Now I make more money, and have more freedom, control, and peace of mind.”

Glen warns that when consultants accept permanent job offers, they must be aware of the expectations of the employer. “Make sure you fully understand the industry the company is in,” he wrote. “As a consultant, your product is technology, and your customer is the company. As a full-time employee, your product is a business-related solution, and your customer is the industry. You will need to 'retool' what you sell. You will no longer sell yourself, you will sell your product.”

The best of both worlds?
A few respondents suggested that IT pros can enjoy the freedom of consulting and the stability of a permanent job by becoming a professional consultant with an established IT consulting firm. “I receive paid vacation, 401(k), sick leave, paid training, seniority benefits, someone else to do the administrative and sales tasks, significantly higher base salary than my clients’ IT staffers, paid overtime, constant variety of client assignments, and a career path for advancement focused entirely on IT,” wrote K. Wallis. “The truly best employment alternative I've encountered in over 18 years of software development is to consult, but not independently.”
TechRepublic is seeking IT consultants with intriguing stories. Have you identified a unique solution to a common problem? Maybe you have an opinion on a current IT issue? Send us a quick note, and we may contact you for an interview. If you appear among our featured members, you'll receive a cool TechRepublic polo shirt, not to mention accolades from your IT brethren.
The IT industry is filled with professionals who have left full-time, permanent jobs in the corporate sector in favor of consulting work. There are also quite a few who have given up the consulting game to return to the steadier pace of a permanent position.

We heard from TechRepublic members on both sides of the fence in response to a recent article by John Andre, “Should you take that permanent job offer?”. Andre shared his thoughts on the advantages and low points of both consulting and permanent jobs. Respondents’ opinions varied greatly—some sang the praises of a stable workload and steady paycheck, while others touted the freedom and flexibility that consulting offers.

The pros of permanent jobs
Taras Pich prefers permanent employment because it offers access to a broader career path. “If you pick the right company, you know you can advance,” Pich wrote. “As a consultant, it's difficult to break into the next level where you're untested, like going from analyst to project manager.”

For those considering the transition from consulting to a permanent job, Jim Brent recommends looking into the professional development policies of the prospective company. “You may have great training benefits, but are you allowed to use them?” Brent wrote. “You may find that you’re allowed two weeks of training and all expenses to boot, but try to find somebody who wasn't overloaded with too many projects to actually take the classes that were allowed.”

Acclaim for consulting
On the other side of the coin, A. Rendall accepted a permanent position and regrets the decision. “The employer feels like they can dictate your life, and you belong to them now,” Rendall extolled. “They listened to me as a consultant, but as an employee I’m seen and not heard.”

David agrees that consulting is a better choice because it offers exposure and experience with the newest technologies. “My current client is paying me to learn a new scripting language, while maintaining their legacy code. There is no two-week training class that can match six to 12 months of on-the-job experience,” he wrote.

While many would argue that a permanent position offers more stability than consulting, Todd S. believes that the latter is the truly secure vocation. “No one can fire me or lay me off, I manage my own hours, decide what expenses are deductible (with IRS rules), have a self-directed pension plan where large amounts of pre-tax money are placed in an account, and I decide when to draw retirement,” Todd wrote. “In the past, I worked for three large corporations and was always treated as expendable even when I performed year after year. Now I make more money, and have more freedom, control, and peace of mind.”

Glen warns that when consultants accept permanent job offers, they must be aware of the expectations of the employer. “Make sure you fully understand the industry the company is in,” he wrote. “As a consultant, your product is technology, and your customer is the company. As a full-time employee, your product is a business-related solution, and your customer is the industry. You will need to 'retool' what you sell. You will no longer sell yourself, you will sell your product.”

The best of both worlds?
A few respondents suggested that IT pros can enjoy the freedom of consulting and the stability of a permanent job by becoming a professional consultant with an established IT consulting firm. “I receive paid vacation, 401(k), sick leave, paid training, seniority benefits, someone else to do the administrative and sales tasks, significantly higher base salary than my clients’ IT staffers, paid overtime, constant variety of client assignments, and a career path for advancement focused entirely on IT,” wrote K. Wallis. “The truly best employment alternative I've encountered in over 18 years of software development is to consult, but not independently.”
TechRepublic is seeking IT consultants with intriguing stories. Have you identified a unique solution to a common problem? Maybe you have an opinion on a current IT issue? Send us a quick note, and we may contact you for an interview. If you appear among our featured members, you'll receive a cool TechRepublic polo shirt, not to mention accolades from your IT brethren.
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