Career Opportunities

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On Your Own: Part 2

© Douglas E. Welch 1997

Consultant or Contractor
There are several ways of going out on your own. Two of most common choices are starting your own consulting business where you deal with a varierty of clients and working as a contractor for a larger corporation.
Contractors are in demand more and more as companies look for ways to cut costs and trim full-time staff members saving the costs of health benefits and pension plans. Corporations will often develop long-term relationships with their contractors so you may feel like an employee even when you aren?t. There are pros and cons to both approaches and I will detail these below.

Consulting Adults
Running your own consulting company can be a heady experience. You are working on your own, master/mistress of your own time and free to chose who you do business with and when you do it. At least, that?s the idea. It also means that you become your own PR & marketing rep, your own secretary, your own receptionist and your own bookkeeper.
Working on your own requires focus, dedication and the ability to motivate yourself. You will have to got out and find clients and service them to the best of your abilities. Referrals will become very important to you as they will be your major source of new clients. Running your own business, you have some control over who you work for but there will be many times when you will have to weigh the money versus the client.
Additional concerns include paying for your own healthcare, tax liabilities due to no withholding and collecting from clients who have trouble paying on time. These are all part of running a business.

Signing the contract
Another freelance possibility is becoming a contractor at a large corporation. These companies often need high-tech staffers to implement special programs and other long term projects. These projects are usually outside the scope of the internal staff members and can run from 1 month to several years.
Contractor positions have the benefit of being a long term agreement. This allows you to forgo the marketing aspect mentioned above except at the end of your contracting agreements. It is also possible the contract might even turn into a fulltime position. You are also saved from major bookkeeping and collection duties.
There are cons to becoming a contractor as well. Unlike a fulltime employee, your contract can usually be cancelled with no notice. This could leave you out of work with no severence pay until you find your next position. Contractors are also denied many of the benefits of employees. This can range from paying for your own pager to not being invited to company events. While this not seem like a big deal, it can effect your state of mind and your work environment. It is always important to remember that you are NOT an employee, as much as it may feel like it.

Consultant and contractor are merely two sides of the same coin, but you may find that one fits your skills or personality better. Research all your options.

Douglas E. Welch is a freelance writer and computer consultant in Van Nuys, California. Readers can discuss career issues with other readers by joining the Career Opportunities Discussion on Douglas' web page at:

He can reached via email at