A good friend of mine made a major career faux pas. He lost his job because his company was taken over by a global giant. It was one of those situations when he was taken by surprise because his previous employer managed to keep the bad news a secret practically till the last minute. After working for the company nine years, he was given two weeks notice. It happens all the time, but it always turns my stomach when I hear these stories. Once he adjusted to the life-altering news, he realized that he had to find another job quickly. Like thousands of others, he wasn’t prepared. He had little savings, and he had just coughed up college tuition for his two kids.
A well-paid, IT project manager and software developer, he knew it wasn’t going to be easy to find a comparable job. He also realized that if he was lucky, he could barely make it eight months on his meager savings, and insulting severance package. A meticulous planner, he had no intention of allowing himself to get to that desperate stage. He was even ready to take a salary cut.
Even with those concessions, decent jobs were hard to find. He had no problem landing interviews, but even though he packed incredible credentials, companies knew that they had him over a barrel, and predictably offered him insulting offers – none of which he took.
After six months of searching and obsessive networking, he decided to make what he thought was a smart career decision. He decided to take a shot at consulting. He reasoned that he had an arsenal of contacts he could tap as potential clients. Fueling the move were a handful of colleagues who were making a decent living consulting. But he failed to consider the decision from all vantage points. Like so many professionals boxed into a corner by financial priorities, he didn’t consider all aspects of the major career swerve. He focused on all the positives, but didn’t consider the negatives, which turned out to be a monumental mistake.
The obvious umbrella positives were that he had the essential qualifications, experience, and most important, high-demand expertise. The negatives, which he was soon to discover, were negotiating skills, and he knew little about business protocol, building a clientele, and how to work with difficult clients. He never had to consider these factors when he worked for someone else. Until this point in his career, he never considered how simple his work life was. But he about to find out in painful detail. There was far more to the entrepreneurial independent contractor life style than he ever imagined.