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Poacher turned Gamekeeper?

Poacher turned Gamekeeper? Does the title fit? I will let you judge.

I am of course talking about the scenario where the consultant is asked by the client to join them as a full-time employee. Would you do it, what are the benefits and what are the disadvantages?

I have faced this situation three times in my career and on each occasion taken up the opportunity to commence a full time employed role. The reason I did it the first time was because I was reaching a level where I was advising people who needed experience that I just didn’t have. It wasn’t one of those companies who offered me a role, it was a different one who was prepared to offer me the job and the development to reach the level that I needed to reach. They valued something in me that in their view was worth the skill gaps and the investment. I stayed for 9 years.

The second opportunity didn’t work out for me; I took it at a time when my family situation left me little time to develop my own customer base, and the employer who asked me to join their business said they were happy to do the business development as long as I could deliver. This wasn’t a good move for me and I didn’t stay.

The third one offered me the chance to take on a challenge and pull together all of the skills and knowledge that I have built over the years and put it to use to take them through a period requiring rapid growth as venture capitalists were involved. The challenge attracted me.

So what about the benefits and disadvantages – well, as the employee you become much more accountable for what happens. In the consultancy role my accountability is more about getting others to deliver so I have some responsibility but little accountability. That sits nicely inside my comfort zone.

An employee at a senior level can’t just go home when the day is done and leave the job behind. As a consultant the email volume is a fraction of that of the employee – most people in the firm have nothing to do with the consultant and so they are not in the relentless copying cycle!

Earnings can be lower for an employee than a consultant, but consistency of earnings can be higher. Routines and relationships are stronger as an employee and that may matter to you. Employees can have a much greater sense of purpose and fulfilment because they see the job through to the end and have the satisfaction of the challenges along the way – the consultant doesn’t always feel the benefit of that, they don’t get the credit.

I do think it is a personal decision and not to be taken lightly but it is an option that deserves proper consideration. The challenge of moving from consultancy to employee is often more about the clients that you leave behind; their hopes and aspirations. But being employed lets you do one job really well if that’s what floats your boat.

Penny Whitelock

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