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Archive for Monday, July 2, 2007

Working as consultant has benefits

July 2, 2007

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Q: I am 50 years old and have been the full-time caretaker of my 23-year-old daughter since she sustained a brain injury when she was 16. Alimony and Social Security have sustained us, but we require more income. Going back to work full time outside my home has proven to be difficult, as my daughter's condition requires me to be available at any moment. I have 30-plus years in a variety of construction companies and last worked for an architectural firm in contracts/ specs. I've been able to pick up some work but it's not steady enough or frequent enough to count on. - Hattie

A: J.T.: The staffing industry has yet to master a method for seeking and posting viable work-from-home opportunities. The problem seems to be that most hiring managers believe it to be more trouble than it's worth because the person who wants to stay at home and work usually has a set of unique circumstances that employers find too hard to work around. I hope this is changing.

Dale: Well, if a job can be done at home, it can be done in India, so I wouldn't be optimistic. What is catching on in corporate America is "flexible" work. That means setting your own hours, job-sharing and so on. But it rarely means working exclusively from home, with total time freedom. Such jobs do exist, but they are so desirable that they are usually filled word-of-mouth. You might as well continue to develop the business you've got started.

J.T.: To do so, Hattie, you would need to stop thinking like an employee and start thinking like a consultant. Look back on all of your work experience and redo your resume to reflect what you are most valuable at doing.

Dale: From there you can decide which of your skills you can best sell to companies. The best book I've found on this process is "Consulting for Dummies" by Bob Nelson and Peter Economy.

J.T.: The first person you have to sell on the consulting idea is yourself. Make a list of the advantages to a company to hire you: They'll have no on-site overhead, no employee commitment or benefits and so on.

Dale: Go to the companies you've already done work for and ask them what they liked and didn't like about using you.

From there, your marketing will develop itself. You'll soon learn that offering to help businesses is a lot easier than asking for a job, and you'll soon be working long hours : but, they'll be the hours you choose.

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