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Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Getting back to paid employment

Getting back to paid employment

Words by Francis Kahihu: kahihucareers@gmail.com

The grass is usually greener on the other side, so many people say. For Peter, the other side meant leaving paid employment five years ago to go into consultancy. He had been lured by his friends to get to consultancy as many opportunities were availed by the signing of the Comprehensive Peace Agreement in Sudan. In the initial months, he got great contracts for a whole set of tasks ranging from monitoring and evaluation of projects, training trainers in various fields and facilitating design of projects. All this was possible due to the linkages he got from some of his friends.

As time went by however, the opportunities seemed to find other routes. He would go for up to five months without getting a single consultancy contract. Life started getting rough on him as he had to support his family as the wife had resigned to take care of his family since he was away from home most of the times. As reality downed on him, he decided to reconsider his decision of leaving paid employment and started seeking for jobs as a paid worker. His was an experience whose lessons would benefit many people seeking to leave paid employment and for freelance consultants planning to get back to paid jobs.

The main advantage of getting into consultancies emanate from the fact that the returns can be handsome within a very short time. You do not have to wait for the end of the month to get your pay cheque so long as you perform. In most cases, you determine the payment rates and terms. This can be enticing to most people. If you land on a great opportunity, you can earn in a month what employed people earn in several months. And the fact that you get this as a windfall, you can easily determine the project to invest the cash in.

There are, however, several challenges that come with ditching paid jobs for consultancies. As much as you could get paid well in consultancies, there is no guarantee that you will find a task on any given month. This uncertainty leads many people unable to budget for their expenditure. ‘It can get really dry’, says one consultant. This lack of confidence in the availability of opportunities leads to frustration as the consultant hopes against hope that the following month would bring with it glad tidings. This is however not guaranteed.

As people go through this uncertainty, they reconsider their moves and head back to paid employment. This could be equated to eating the humble pie. It is however one of the best decisions one can make the moment you realize that your initial plans have not borne fruit. One of the questions you may have to contend with at the interview panel is how you would adjust from freedom to ‘restriction’. It would hence be helpful for you to be clear on how you would honestly prepare yourself for the huge change as your systems and schedules will be affected.

One of the greatest challenges that persons leaving consultancies for paid employment go through is the allure of consultancies even after they have been engaged on a full time job. The worker will then want to be content and advise potential clients of their move so that they reduce instances of meddling in conflicts of interest. Finally, the person would want to get counsel on how to best work under authority having being their own authority during consultancies.

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