Even in the best of times, it can be difficult for consultants to get work and stay employed. After all, a consultant’s job is temporary by its very nature. A recent study by human resources firm Drake Beam Morin looked at job seekers from a variety of professions that had used its career transition service. The firm found that the average time to reemployment in 2001 was 3.2 months, with workers older than 50 taking an average of 4.1 months to find a new professional role.

That kind of downtime can be deadly to IT consultants, especially independents and those working for small firms. To help our members work toward better jobs and more engagements, we’ve enlisted the help of Tim Heard, a technical recruiter for JC Malone, a career placement service, where he finds jobs for IT pros like Web developers, software developers, network engineers and administrators, and programmers. Heard shares his career advice by answering questions from TechRepublic members.

Advice from Tim Heard
We’ve gathered seven of Heard’s career advice columns for you to peruse. If you use any of his advice, drop us a line and tell us if it helped.

”Recognize a career opportunity when you see it”
If the tight job market has you meeting with low-ranking IT personnel, you may have to recalibrate your interview style. Get Heard’s advice for developing your listening skills and making the most of your opportunities. And if you haven’t built up an emergency fund to keep you safe through the economic storm, take heed of Heard’s five suggestions for making it through.

”Stay in the game, but know the score”
A consultant member with development experience wrote to say he was having trouble finding work, even with his 10 years of experience. Heard tells him whether to focus on permanent or contract positions, and whether he should purse a PMP certification.

”Earn certs and gain experience before looking for a new job”
Find out what Heard suggests to a consultant with aspirations of working as a disaster recovery consultant in Australia and New Zealand, and get his advice about covering gaps in your resume.

”CPA has the skills–but not the work”
A former CPA has earned his Oracle Financials certification, but has found no work. Find out what Heard suggests to get his phone ringing and his Inbox buzzing.

”Honor your commitments before moving on”
A recently transplanted consultant committed himself to a less-than-perfect job to keep food on the table. Now she’s attracted to several openings that would increase her pay and provide more challenge. Find out why Heard advises this consultant to stay put.

”Finding work in difficult economic times”
With layoffs, downsizing, and a tight job market, some IT pros may buy in to certification scams or quick-fix techniques to weather the storm. Get Heard’s real-world advice on how to make ends meet when times are tough.

”Ask these questions when screening a recruiting firm”
In this Q&A, Heard provides tips for finding a headhunter skilled in international networking, and addresses industry standards for IT sales pros.

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