Moving from Full Time Employment to Consultancy Work

freelancersA number of clients who have found themselves being made redundant from their roles because of the current economic crises consider setting themselves up as consultants in their area of expertise. Sometimes they’re at a point in their lives where they’re not quite ready to retire but they are ready to begin to wind their work down in some manner and make more time for interests or hobbies that are important to them.

Quite often these clients will count their previous employer as a source of consultancy work.  This is actually quite common when organisations are forced to downsize, because along with losing a lot of its good people it also loses the knowledge and expertise they contributed. Bringing people back on board who have organisation and industry knowledge and expertise makes perfect sense. The consultant benefits by earning a good daily rate and the organisation can pay this because they no longer have the responsibility and overheads for such things as pension and health plans or professional development.

James and Olivia are two clients who have successfully established themselves as consultants in this manner. Both James and Olivia were senior executives in their respective industries, James in the Transport Industry and Olivia in a leading Non Governmental Organisation. I was employed by their organisations as an outplacement consultant to see them through their career transition. As with all my clients I began their programmes by asking them to take a step back to  examine their skills, knowledge, experience and to consider how these were transferable into supporting them into a new career that ‘s in line with their interests, values and longer term life and career vision.

James enjoyed his work and his industry but he was at a stage in his life when his family had grown and had flown the nest. He had seen them through university and they were no longer dependent on him, he was also fortunate to no longer have a mortgage on his home and so all in all was in a good place from a financial perspective. He did however have a ‘bucket list’ of things he wanted to achieve in his life which included travelling to wonderfully exotic and interesting destinations with his wife. He also wanted to give something back to society and in some way make a difference. He wanted to continue working but just not in the same vein as before. It was important for him to remain intellectually stimulated through his work, he also wanted to retain the social aspect it provided and he needed it to fund his ‘bucket list’.

We explored and considered ways James could design his career to allow him to live his life to achieve these things. He had an extensive network with contacts throughout the UK and Europe to include Russia– one of the destinations he aspired to travel to.  Being a sociable person he began connecting with people and discovered various projects in the pipeline throughout Europe, he was known and respected in his industry and once people knew he was available for work they were more than happy to meet with him and very soon offers began to come through for consultancy work to include work with his old organisation and a piece of work in Russia.

To facilitate his travel aspirations and the ability to give back at a social level, James decided he wanted to take on assignments that would demand a commitment of several months at a time, once each piece of work was complete he would take one to three months off, during this time he would travel to a destination on his ‘bucket list’. He also identified a Social Enterprise in South Africa, where he and his wife spent time and he contributed his business acumen in helping them develop their vision and strategy.

Olivia’s being made redundant coincided with her husband and her relocating to the English coast. She wanted and needed to continue working but she also wanted to take time to settle in to her new home and community. She knew her work would take her away from home but she wanted this to me no more than three days a week, allowing her time to set up home and get to know people in her community. She also had a love of basket weaving and she wanted to make time for this along with time for cycling another love which she shared with her husband.
Similarly to James, Olivia set about networking and letting people know she was available for work. She was also highly regarded in her area of expertise and very soon she was having interesting conversations which led to work, some of which was located closer to the coastal area she had moved to, than she could have hoped for.

What is even more interesting about Olivia’s story is that once she started to connect socially with people in her community she discovered by way of conversation a non-profit basketry organisation in need of resurrection and this is exactly what she’s setting out to achieve with another woman who resides in the area.

As with all consultancy work, there are peaks and troughs in both James and Olivia’s work and because both of them have identified that they no longer wish or need to work on a full time basis, at times when they have a workload that demands more of their time than they are willing or able to give, they’re in a position to establish collaborative working relationships with fellow consultants in their respective fields and outsource this work. Many consultants will do this and it also allows them to be in a position to earn a commission for the work they pass along should they choose to.

*Published with clients permission, names have been changed.

Evolving Careers Players can support you in moving from full time employment to consultancy work. We deliver 121 career coaching, group learning and development, and outplacement services. We devise community forum theatre, corporate drama workshops and role-play scenarios. Get in touch to discuss your needs:

Published by Carmel O' Reilly

I’m Carmel O’ Reilly, Founder of I’m the author Your WorkLife Your Way, blogger and podcaster on the subject of WorkLife. My work focuses on helping people to live their best WorkLives, by managing their learning, development and growth, through effective self-feedback, insightful self-questions and the ability to shape and tell their unique story. My Mission is: “To spread the power of WorkLives lived with Passion, Purpose and Pride by creating continuous WorkLife learning programmes that are accessible to everyone.”

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