Consulting for a company puts you in a flexible position: you’re able to offer ideas, challenges, and valuable information to help a company expand and grow. You may even do this for multiple companies, giving yourself freedom to work in various environments, all with the same outcome. However, has the time come to trade in the hustle and grind of consulting for something new and more stable? Transitioning to an in-house role comes with its own challenges, but it’s a distinct possibility for your next step. Here’s how to plan your move from one unique role to the next, and how to anticipate challenges that may arise.
Why Move Away From Consulting?
Simply put: an in-house role is much more likely to be stable, as opposed to consulting, especially if you are an independent consultant. Working in-house means benefits, more routine, and a different set of skills, but ones you’ve already honed from your previous role. Having given the potential company your knowledge and ideas over time, now you can take a much more active part in applying them, depending on exactly the new role you’re looking for. For many, moving in-house also means a reduction in travel time and the ability to settle into a weekly personal routine and stronger work/life boundaries.
How to Move to an In-House Role
Take the first step.
Is the company you’re interested in currently hiring for a permanent role? Are you making them aware of your availability if and when a position becomes available? When offering yourself as an in-house candidate, you’ll have to draw on other skill sets and present yourself as someone who can do much more for the company than as a consultant; but you can’t rely solely on your past experiences to make yourself a more attractive candidate. Switching to a permanent role requires complete knowledge about the company, a willingness to be much more hands-on, and the possibility of much more responsibility and different requirements. Emphasize your consulting skills, but also don’t solely rely on them.
Create your resume.
If the position you want is readily available and defined, you want your resume to reflect strengths, not only for the opening, but to highlight your other diverse qualifications, ones that might not have been on display in the consulting role. Are you able to implement ideas, beyond conceptualizing and presenting them? Are you more comfortable working with a smaller company, when consulting is sometimes dominated by larger corporations?
If you’re looking farther ahead, a varied resume is a smart move. You can use your mix of skills to show your ability to switch to new roles instead of as a consultant, and you can branch out to other fields and industries as well. The desire for an in-house position very likely indicates a need for new challenges; therefore, keeping an open mind and tailoring your talents for new companies and roles is a smart move. You could be a great fit for an existing company for whom you consult, or perhaps you’ll find better opportunities outside of your comfort zone, in different industries.
Utilize your inside track.
If you’re applying for an in-house position with a company you’ve already consulted for, you’re already on their radar, you’re a known entity. If you’ve shown yourself as reliable, flexible, and consistently providing valuable ideas, you’re going to be much more visible and sought-after than a completely outside applicant. Of course your consulting position isn’t a guarantee, but you know the work the company does, you’ve already helped them achieve goals from a previous vantage point; sell yourself as someone who can make a seamless transition to the inside, rather than a voice on the outside.
You may believe you know everything about the company, given your previous access to them. However, it’s very likely that you only dealt with a small percentage of their workforce, and you may be coming onto a different team, especially if you’re taking the place of a previous executive or manager. Draw on the knowledge you already have, but also leave room for a learning curve. You’re no longer a consultant; you’re now a permanent member of a diverse team, or possibly managing one. Expectations might be different in-house, rather than as the outside voice you once were. Be open to changing your approach, and be open to feedback from your peers. Use your current knowledge as a foundation, but be willing to build on it, especially as you learn more about the company, with information that you might not have had access to as a consultant. You had the inside track, and now it’s up to you to keep learning in your new role.
Focus on communication.
Consulting is all about communicating ideas, and every stage of your transition should be no different. After all, you’re starting by communicating your desire for the new position. Throughout the interview process and the potential hiring, state your goals and objectives clearly, and communicate with your new peers, supervisors, and employees about expectations. Consulting might feel like a bubble sometimes; you’re a small channel into a larger network. Being in the new position means opening up more, and realizing you’re in charge of implementation of your own and others’ ideas.
Start the Process Now.
Depending on the company’s structure, you might have to wait for a permanent position to open up, but start making your intentions known right away. Let management know you want to switch to an in-house role. Use the time to fully learn about the organization, and come up with a plan to show how you’d integrate yourself into the management hierarchy. If the position is immediately available, use your past experience and relationship with the company to stand out from the other applicants. You’re not a novice; you have the power to make this move.
Work with a career coach to plan your career transition strategy!