Is that morning alarm clock ruining your day? Are you tired of the constant struggle of being employed as a consultant? Are you looking for interesting methods to allow you to spend your days waiting in the unemployment line or sitting at home catching up on all the important TV shows and video games which there never seems to be time for? If so, this is the article for you! The following are the top six ways to lose your job as a consultant!
Fail: Failure is not an option in consulting. In most of my career I’ve seen a simple "three strikes and you’re out" approach seems to be commonly employed though it is not an official policy. Consultants with a longer track record for success may be given three strikes versus new consultants in an organization who may not get that many chances. Approaching each client engagement with the outlook that "Failure is not an option" is a best approach to being a career consultant.
Lying about project status: One of the slower approaches to getting fired as a consultant is to lie about what has actually been accomplished on a project site. This one can start as just a CYA maneuver in situations where a project isn’t going as well as you would like it to be going, but over time it’s a sure fire bet that if you haven’t accomplished task A and you have send out status reports indicating that you have completed task A it will come back to bite you. As with all things in life, it’s best not to lie about when things are not going as you would like them to be going. When things are bad the truth doesn’t get better with time, and when you are billing a client for that time the damage quickly compounds into a "career limiting decision" (or CLD for short).
Sleeping on client site: I’m sad to even have to list this one but it is true. Early in my career (even before I was a consultant) I worked with an employee who was notorious for sleeping at work. We knew that when we went to his cube that we needed to knock first. As a consultant, even a cat nap is pretty much a CLD. I have kids and pets so I understand what a bad night’s sleep can be but I guess that’s why caffeine is so popular among consultants. Look at this from the client perspective – they are spending $100+ per hour for your expertise. That’s an expensive nap. L
Walk off: There are days where life can be unbelievably frustrating as an IT consultant. We are expected to continue to work on a project and to deliver it successfully regardless of the circumstances. Whether it’s unrealistic expectations, production environment crashes or just life in general walking off of a client site is yet another CLD. If things are getting so bad that you are considering walking off a project site, have a sit down with your manager and discuss the situation to see if there is a way to change the situation to make it workable.
Outward frustration and disagreement with management: Consulting management will always have their ideas on how to run their organization. While professional disagreement is ok, outward frustration and disagreement with consulting management will eventually result in the requirement for an employment change.
Stop growing: After working as an IT consultant for years it’s easy to fall into the trap of not spending time learning and growing your technical skills. Consultants need to always be working on upgrading and growing their technical skillsets to continue to be in demand. Consultants who stop growing in the long term are not able to be able to be kept busy billing and the long term result of an inability to bill is… Yep, you guessed it. A CLD.
Hopefully writing an article on the top six ways to lose your job as a consultant won’t result in generating a seventh one (i.e. Don’t write articles on how to lose your job as a consultant J ).
It is possible to thrive as a consultant and to make it into a career (I know, I’ve been doing this for more than 20 years now), but to do so you will want to watch carefully for falling into any of these traps. I hope that you found this article useful to help you to find ways to avoid the most common consulting career ending decisions.