A consultant’s life for me?

generalist HR manager for six years, I am now tired of the five day a week
syndrome. How does one break into some form of HR consultancy and does it lead
to a  better work-life balance?


Peter Wilford, consultant, Chiumento Group, writes:


There are several ways to break into HR consultancy. You
could go self-employed and build up your own client base, or you could work
with other HR consultants as an associate (whilst also building up your own
business), or you could work with one or more companies on a retained basis as
their outsourced HR arm.  You could also
maintain a salaried job but work part time in a consultancy capacity.  This could be useful if you want to try out
the world of consultancy and see if it is for you.


Whichever route you take, it is important to be realistic
about the likely work pattern. It can be a case of feast or famine as regards
work and payment coming in. So it is important to plan your finances to cope
with these earning fluctuations.  If you
are self-employed, it is possible to choose when and where to work, which means
that your work-life balance can be improved. 
However, consultancy is usually short-term, and project based.  This can mean that work is concentrated and
you may be working longer hours than you do now, in order to meet project
deadlines.  Also, depending on where you
live, it may not be possible to get enough consultancy work in the local area
and you may find yourself having to commuter further, or to stay away from


Against the advantages of freedom of type and choice of
work, no in-house politics and greater flexibility in hours must be seen the
disadvantages of more risk, greater uncertainty, constant cash flow concerns
and juggling of different priorities.


It is essential to think carefully about whether you are
suited for consultancy work before entering into it.  You should think about how suitable your personality and
temperament is in relation to the skills required of a consultant.  Talk to others who are doing it and find out
the pluses and minuses from them. 
Finally talk to Business Link, which offers training and support for
people starting out as a consultant, and the CIPD who can give you information
about HR consultants with whom you can make contact for advice and networking


Margaret Malpas, joint managing director, Malpas
Flexible Learning, writes:


Consultancy usually involves more hours and less flexibility
in your time. Basically, the client expects you to be on call to them, so this
does not sound like the situation you are looking for.


In terms of how to get into consultancy, you either need to
build good networks so that you can get referrals, or you need to engage in
some very serious marketing of yourself.


Vic Daniels, director, Carr Lyons, writes:


You have three options. ally yourself to a recruitment
consultancy that specializes in interim or consultancy work, tie-up as an
associate with any one of the number of small HR consultancies that have sprung
up all over the place recently or form a limited company and utilize your own

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