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Finding a good job often takes a long time, but unfortunately your household bills keep coming every month whether you are employed or not. Earning consulting income while looking for a job can bring in needed cash but can also distract you from your job search and confuse your network about whether you really want to find another job or become a consultant.

This article talks about 7 ways to manage this problem.

Please feel free to forward this message to those you know who are in transition or at a job but relish the idea of going out on their own.

Bruce Katchet

Bruce L. Katcher, Ph.D.
President, Discovery Surveys

Are you ready to ask for help?

If you need help launching your consulting business, accelerating your consulting practice, or finding the right job, call me at 781-784-4367 to discuss whether it would make sense for me to serve as your mentor and coach.

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How to Land Interim Consulting Work
During Your Job Search

By Bruce Katcher, Ph.D.
Founder and Executive Director The Center for Independent Consulting


    I typically advise new consultants to send an announcement to everyone they know. If, however, you really are planning on finding another job, then sending an announcement about your consulting could be counterproductive.

    Tell only your closest and most trusted contacts that you are still looking for a job but can help them or people they know on a consulting basis if they need assistance.


    Avoid a consulting assignment where you are required to be on site full time or even several days a week. You need to maintain the flexibility of your schedule so that you can make job search-related activities (i.e., telephone calls, emails, and attending networking meetings and job interviews) your major priority.


    Don't put yourself in the position of having to decide, "Should I work for another hour so that I can charge my client a little more today or attend that networking meeting?"

    Try to avoid charging by the hour or the day. You still want to own your time. If you charge for your time, you will be looking at your watch, your client will be looking at his or her watch, and your valuable time will be used primarily to service your client rather than search for your next job.


    Instead of charging for your time, charge for deliverables (e.g., a report summarizing your findings) or results (e.g., increased revenue). That way, you will be held accountable for what your client needs, rather than the amount of time you spend providing it.


    Another way to maintain control of your schedule is to work for your client on a retainer basis.

    For example, labor attorneys often charge a fixed monthly fee for a minimum of 6-12 months to be available to offer their advice when needed on complex legal issues. They don't tie their fee to the time they spend. (That would be charging for their time.) They make it clear what services are within and outside of the scope of the retainer relationship so that they are protected from having all of their time monopolized by one client. Often they price their retainer fee for less than their hourly rate to make it more enticing for their client.


    Generally, serving as a subcontractor to other consultants who need help on projects is not a great practice for independent consultants because the client is not yours and you can't charge what you would get if they were your client.

    However, for those who are really seeking a job, subcontracting is a great way to land business quickly. Just make certain that you are not commuting daily or selling your time in ways that make it difficult for you to search for your job.

    Think about reaching out to those consultants you hired while you were employed at your last job. They might need your assistance. Also, it is probably very important to them to maintain a good relationship with you because when you land your next job they will be anxious for you to hire them again.


    Another good possibility, of course, is for you to take on a consulting assignment that has the potential to lead to a full time position. You might even be willing to commute and sell your time if you think that there is a strong possibility that the consulting assignment could turn into a full time job. Make it clear, however, to your client that you will need time off periodically to continue your job search. Then it is your challenge to impress them to the point where they just feel they have to hire you full time.


You can have your cake (i.e., earning consulting income) and eat it too (still actively search for the job you desire). You just need to take the proper precautions to make certain that your consulting does not interfere with your job search.


Bruce L. Katcher, Ph.D. is an Industrial/Organizational psychologist, president of Discovery Surveys, Inc. (, and Executive Director of The Center for Independent Consulting ( He is author of "An Insider's Guide to Building a Successful Consulting Practice" (AMACOM) and "30 Reasons Employees Hate Their Managers" (AMACOM). Reach out to Dr. Katcher for consulting assistance at, 781-784-4367,, or Twitter (!/BruceKatcher).


  • What People Are Saying About My Book on Consulting

    I received a letter this past week from a consultant in Baltimore, MD saying, "I recently read An Insider's Guide to Building a Successful Consulting Practice. I am writing to tell you how much I enjoyed your book. I started my firm in September of this year. Your book was a huge help. There are lots of books and websites out there but none of them provide the practical advice your book offers. I also appreciate your transparency as you highlighted not just your successes but also your failures."

    Click here to read what other people are saying about my book, An Insider's Guide to Building a Successful Consulting Practice.

  • If you or someone you know needs help starting or growing a consulting business, contact me at 781-784-4367 or

  • Signed copies of my book, "An Insider's Guide to Building a Successful Consulting Practice" (AMACOM, 2010), are now available. Signed copies are available through the online store on our website. Download a free copy of the introduction and first chapter at the online store. You can also purchase an unsigned copy through your favorite on-line bookstore.

  • The free Executive Summary Report of a Survey of 200 Successful Independent Consultants is available for downloading at The report describes how independent consultants get started and succeed.

Copyright © 2013, The Center for Independent Consulting and Bruce L. Katcher, Ph.D. This publication may be freely redistributed in full or in part as long as full attribution and our contact information, including email address, telephone number, and web address, are included.

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