Every time I’m on LinkedIn, I’m surprised to see so many full-time job openings. Many have the standard phrases like “superstar” or “rock star,” attached to them. Correct me if I’m wrong, but most rock stars are not interested in working at B2B SaaS companies. :-)
I often think, “one of our consultants could hit that out of the park,” and I’m pretty sure I’m right. However, we still have heavy biases toward full-time hiring instead of consultants or contractors. It’s the M.O. for most managers when their responsibilities grow. “I need another employee.” I’m not saying there is anything wrong with that, I just think more VPs, Directors, and Group Managers should consider hiring consultants instead.
1) They Are Trained to Hit the Ground Running and Start Right Away
Unlike a job search which can take several months, consultants can usually start Monday. They also have a unique skill-set to quickly collect the necessary information, meet with the right people, and put a plan into action. Not before the next performance review, not at the start of Q3, but like tomorrow. Why? Because the good ones know the sooner they put a plan together, the sooner they can start adding value. Adding value = a happy client.
2) They’ll Do Your Dirty Work
There are projects that no one on your team will touch. They might be politically-charged. They might involve working with another team that no one cares to work with. They might just be tedious and boring. A good consultant has his or her eyes wide open and will take on your dirty work. They do it because they know it’s temporary, and you’ll pay them for every dirty hour.
3) They Will Tell You the Truth
I’ve been in this situation several times. It’s just a reality that consultants are often brought in to clean up a mess, or to figure out something difficult. In both cases, there are often reasons that a company is not doing as well as they’d like. A good consultant is going to uncover the issues and will be brutally honest on what it will require to fix the problem. Some employees will do this too, but sometimes there are politics and hurt feelings involved, so the truth gets clouded. Want to know what your co-workers think of you? Ask your loyal consultant.
4) They Will Work Smarter
Consultants have a built-in work advantage. They have fewer meetings, less email, less employee training, fewer partner lunches, and are worried less about pretty Powerpoint, meaning they can be more productive between 9am and 5pm. I know it’s a revolutionary idea, but most can dedicate large portions of their day to doing substantive work — thinking and collaborative work. They might even come into the office at 7am or 10am because they will save 30 minutes on their commute. A good consultant knows how to architect the perfect work day and they don’t have to worry about face time or answering every email in their inbox. They can be focused on thinking strategically on how to move your projects forward.
5) They Won’t Leave You for Facebook or Google
A common myth is that consultant are less dedicated, or that they won’t give their heart and soul to your business and their projects. Bullshit! That’s like saying Stephen Curry won’t make 3-pointers in your recreation basketball league because he’s not a regular member of your team. My experience is that a good consultant will stay with you as long as you have good work. If you treat them well, they won’t leave you. And, yes, they’ll give you their heart and soul if you earn it — just like an employee.
6) They Will Never Ask for a Promotion or Raise
Every manager dreads the annual review process where they might have an employee or two ask for a raise or a promotion. If they’ve earned it, often there is no budget to give it. If they haven’t earned it, that’s even worse. But consultants are rewarded when you give them more work, and the good ones will say “thank you very much.”
The smart companies get it, and are hiring more consultants and freelancers. More than one third of the US workforce is now a freelancer. So, the next time you think about building your dream team and see a long row of cubicles with full-time employees, ask yourself this question: why haven’t I tried hiring a consultant?