Whether you serve as consultant in the field of IT, Healthcare, or myriad other industries, your status as a consultant can prove to be a conundrum during the interview process. As any consultant knows, one of his/her greatest hurdles is employers’ prevailing perceptions that:
a) the consultant’s skills sets are not worthy of permanent employment, and
b) the consultant has bounced around and perhaps even likes bounding around from job to job.
So as not to be seen as so much dandelion fluff blowing in the ever-changing wind, you will have to convince the employer of the benefits of consultant work .. having first convinced yourself of them, of course. The truth may very well be that you have accepted consultancies simply because permanent positions were not available due to, for example, outsourcing of jobs to foreign markets. If this is the case, you can be honest. But temper your honesty with enthusiasm, not a “woe is me” attitude.
Nothing can turn an interview against you as fast as a negative mindset. Before you ever set foot in the hiring manager’s door, create the interview scenario in your mind and put yourself in the employer’s seat What would you want to hear from a potential employee, one who is applying for any position, project-based or permanent?
1) You’d want to hear that the job hopeful enjoyed the diversity of his assignments; that he was unafraid to embrace challenge in new fields.
2) You’d want to hear that the candidate learned something of each of the industries in which he maneuvered, thereby providing him with an applicable lexicon as well as an understanding of the business cultures (including, hopefully, the employer’s own).
3) You’d want to hear that in some manner, the applicant left his mark upon each of the companies that had utilized his services. You’d want to hear his accomplishments.
If, for instance, you were assigned a three-month project in which you served on a team charged with developing a new piece of software, you’d want to hear what the software, once tested and implemented, had accomplished.
You would not want to hear a dissertation in Technicalese. Even technical managers want to know the bottom line. If the application that you helped developed shortened financial reporting time by a week, and provided greater accuracy over the existing system with a series of checks and balances that was previously non-existent, you’d want to know that.
4) You’d want to know that the consultant could slip like butter into the existing workforce, not be a fish out of water.
5) You’d want to know how the consultant had solved a particular problem, how long it took him to do so, and what clicked the light bulb on over his head in the first place. You’d want a demonstration or at least a presentation of critical thinking skills.
Think like the employer before you sit down to present your qualifications, maintain a positive outlook, and you’ll do a good job of selling yourself to those empowered to hire.
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