Many individuals who lost their jobs during the Great Recession became self-employed consultants in their field, performing the same work for companies but without the benefits of full-time employment. Some of those individuals smoothly transitioned from consultant to full-time employee as the economy improved. If you are experiencing difficulty in that transition, here are three questions to ask yourself:
Do I really want to become a full-time employee?
Full-time employment brings regular hours, a regular paycheck, paid vacations, and a built-in circle of peers, among other advantages. But a consultant or freelancer also reaps benefits from self-employment (no office politics, the prestige of being the subject matter expert, freedom to work at home, and so on). If you are able to support yourself with the work, like the variety, and can handle the ups and downs, then you may not want to look for full-time employment. I had one consultant who was offered her ideal job and called me in total panic: she had just realized, after all our work on her resume and social media profile, that she never wanted to join any company ever again. That is okay but it is more efficient to realize how you feel before your job search.
Can I look at my experience from the perspective of a recruiter or hiring manager?
As a consultant or freelancer, you have probably worked in a wider range of industries and projects than the full-time employee of one company. But your resume should always emphasize the accomplishments and skills that match the exact job you are applying for. As a result, you may need several resumes, each with a different selection of contracting jobs, so that your experience always matches the requirements of the full-time job you want.
Do I have a realistic view of my value?
Sometimes companies are much more generous in their praise to contractors than they ever are to their employees. I am sure there are solid psychological reasons for this but the result is that freelancers or consultants may have an overly optimistic view of their value. Remember that a job posting’s salary range may be lower because it reflects benefits and overhead; that job titles may not match your expectations; that personal time off will probably be less flexible and more limited; and that you have a better chance of finding a job if you are careful with demands and expectations.