One day you have a full-time management role, and the next you learn the IT team is being outsourced. You’re given the choice to go with the consulting firm—in effect, move into a consulting role for your current firm—or just leave. According to TechRepublic member accounts, it’s not a new or unique situation in IT these days.
An IT manager recently asked TechRepublic career expert Molly Joss the best approach to take in this situation and what issues she needed to be aware of as she made this decision. She wanted to know what her options were and whether to move into the role as an employee or as an independent contractor.
Joss provided specific advice, recommending that the member take the job while establishing an independent consulting practice. Joss also advised tapping the consulting firm for good benefits (health and continuing education, training, and certification).
A slew of TechRepublic members took time to post their tips, real-life examples of dealing with this job dilemma, and guidance to the tech professional facing the big career decision. Here’s some of what the members had to say.
Tip 1: Aim for a subcontractor deal
By starting a practice as LLC, or sole proprietor, the tech professional has more flexibility to work around noncompete clauses that might create hurdles in the traditional 1099 contractor role.
Tip 2: Maintain strong relations with your former company
While Joss highly recommended keeping in touch with the former boss and company leaders, many members underlined how vital this tip is for future career opportunities. Oftentimes, while IT departments are outsourced, they are brought back to the fold, and the CIO usually stays at the helm in both scenarios. Keeping that relationship current and strong can open doors to new roles down the road.
Tip 3: Take the job and move on quickly
While a few TechRepublic members believe the “new home” at the consultancy won’t be available for long, most advocate taking the job while working strenuously to establish the independent practice. One member related how the scenario turned out for him: "When we were sold over to an outsourcer…the salary was the same, but there were no benefits…[they] expected 14- to 16-hour days and weekends. I took it and stayed less than 60 days—while I was out looking for a new position. Ninety percent of those moved to the outsourcer were gone in nine months. So if you take it, start looking for a new job—otherwise Run, Forrest, Run…."
As another member related, having no contingency plan can be tough. After four months working for an outsourcer, this member’s job was eliminated, and he hasn’t found another gig yet. One reason for his predicament relates to the next tip.
Tip 4: Bone up tech skills immediately
The senior IT manager who lost his new role after four months had been in charge of technical teams but was more hands-off than he should have been. Although he had good management skills, the consultant role requires a technical skill set—something he had left behind when he moved into management. In effect, he “was in a niche without a real market.”
Tip 5: Grab and keep a new perspective
One member related how the outsource scenario is often compared to the divorce scenario in which the ex is invited to hang around as the resident mistress. And, if you hold that view, you’ll need to change your perspective in order to be successful in the new role and new career path. It’s time to leave the anger and resentment behind, because if you don’t, “poor performance, high emotional stress, and resulting termination” will be all that waits for you in the outsourced environment.
In viewing the new role as a new opportunity, there are some positive elements as well. Independent contractors work hourly and get compensated for long days and weekend windows. Since you’re familiar with the client (your old firm), you could be in a strong negotiating position, since the consulting firm will want to know how to keep your old firm happy.
A few final tips
While the career change can be stressful and challenging initially, many members wrote that it holds more positives than many may think. They pointed out that working for one company a few days a week, and another the rest of the week, provides two doors to potential full-time roles. Best of all, it naturally increases your breadth of experience. One member put it quite succinctly, writing: “Keep your eyes, ears, and mind open and you'll come out a lot smarter than you went in. You'll know a lot more people in the business than you did before. And you’ll have better prospects for finding a full-time employee position if you find you still want one.”
As another member indicated, the new career path provides a "valuable experience that will make you a prime candidate for a new position, as it combines the best of being an IT manager with consulting experience. As a consultant, you will see how the real world works and especially how to gain valuable organizational skills….This could put you in prime position for a senior-level position.”
The key element of success, added another member who successfully moved into consulting, is to be patient during the career change process. “To get to this point, I had to be patient. It took almost a year to build a strong client base,” this member wrote.