Saturday, April 26, 2014

New Beginnings

Monday will be my first day on the job. Well, not really. Monday will be my first day in the job as a "permanent" employee. With quotes because nothing in life is really permanent. But after 9 months on the job as a contractor, I'm now a full time employee.  The irony is that my engagement was only supposed to last 10 months. And I was pretty sure that they were not going to offer me a permanent position.  For reasons that are too complicated to get into, I was literally ready to quit a few days before my senior manager made the offer, but my friend cautioned me to sleep on the decision and wait a week.

It's been quite the journey back to permanent employment. For the past 3 years, I've  been working as a legal consultant, first as a part time thing to pay the bills and then full time when I finally acknowledged that my new career as a mental health professional was going nowhere fast. I recently read an article on increased wages for consultants and that's one of the primary benefits of consulting work. You generally get paid on an hourly basis. But the work is pretty irregular (either feast or famine) and you can be "terminated" on a moment's notice. Two of the contractors who started with me were asked to leave after completing 3 months of their 10 month contract. So, as with investments, high risks could potentially translate into high reward. But the other downside is that you often aren't eligible for benefits. The consulting I worked for did provide health insurance and a 401k, but from what I could tell from some of my fellow contractors, that was rare.

As with all careers and vocations, you have to know yourself and determine goodness of fit. Consulting really is for people who are flexible, open to new experiences, and willing to deal with the an inconsistent income stream. Either that or they have a partner's income to fall back on.  And although I will try just about anything once, that constant state of uncertainty is not for me.

So it's with much relief that I know where I'll be clocking day in and day out for the foreseeable future. Is it my ideal dream job? Definitely not. And some of the issues that prompted me to want to quit before my contract expired are still there.  But as manager told me months ago, it's easier to leverage or find a permanent job when you already have a permanent job.

Of course, his prediction came true, but not in the way that I anticipated.  A week after I agreed to stay on as an FTE, my old manager from my previous consulting gig called me to offer me a position that had opened up on his team. When I gently but respectfully told him that he was a day late and a dollar short, he asked me if I had any recommendations because he really needed someone just like me. I was flattered and told him that I would keep my eyes and ears open. I would've never predicted even a month ago that I would have not just one, but two job offers within the span of two weeks, neither of which I had to 'apply' for.

So, it does appear, based on my anecdotal evidence, that the economy is improving, employees feel secure enough to move on to new opportunities, and companies are now hiring.  The moral of the story is that timing is everything.  Sometimes good things do happen to those who wait.  And as all the career experts say, networking is key to finding a new position.  My old manager has been burned several times by consultants who seemed great on paper but turned out to be difficult personalities to work with, and hence why he was hoping for a referral from someone like me, who he enjoyed working with.

Anyway, here's to new beginnings....