From Corporate to Consulting

While I wish I could say that I make enough money from my book sales and that it is my only source of income, the reality is far from that. Despite releasing my first book 3 years ago with The Ascension Legacy - Book 1: The Shamed Ranger, I maintain my day job as an IT consultant.

But I wasn’t always a consultant.

Before becoming a consultant, I spent years being a corporate employee for different companies. I worked as tech support, network administrator, software trainer, and software programmer. They were all jobs that helped get me to where I am today but they were not all jobs that I look back at fondly.

For years I knew people who were consultants and some of them tried to entice me to join their ranks but I resisted. Back then I wanted the consistency and security that I thought came with corporate jobs. Consulting was viewed as being self-employed and having to deal with finding my own work, my own insurance, and managing my taxes. And while that is true for some consultants that is not the case for all of us. It turns out that there are firms of consultants that do all of that for us, we just have to show up and work. 

To put it crudely, it's like having a pimp. I have little say in which jobs I do and I don’t get all of the money from the job. The money is paid to the company and then the company pays me a salary. 

Wow, that sounds like a regular job doesn’t it? In a sense it is. I’m an employee for a business but one who employs me to work for them as a consultant that does jobs for others at their discretion. It doesn’t have as much freedom as being an independent contractor but it comes with more security in terms of financial stability and benefits.

So what finally convinced me to make the jump from corporate to consulting? 

Well, my last corporate job was working for a FORTUNE 100 company, which will remain nameless in this post. I was hired to work there as a “Senior .Net Software Developer”, a title I would have there for four years despite not working a single day in that role.

On my first day, my manager approached me with a copy of my resume and started asking about my skills before telling me that a new program was being installed within the company and he wanted me to join that team. I spent the next 4 years working and leading a team of other engineers performing a job other than the one I was hired to do. 

At first, my hiring manager remained my manager while I worked with this other team but after a few months this team was given its own department, its own management hierarchy, and I was moved into this group. Oddly, when my employment was officially transferred from the original group to this new group, I was assigned a new manager but not given a new title or designator. Shortly after the transfers to this new group, we were each told by our new manager that we would be given new titles and pay raises consistent with our new roles.

Months passed but our titles and pay remained. We would ask our boss about it every few months and each time we got a different excuse. Eventually, it was like management was just dangling a carrot in front of us to get us to work or to keep us “loyal” but continually tried to pass the buck as if it were somebody else’s fault that the promised raises and job titles weren’t being given to anyone on the team.

This drama lasted for well over a year. Some might think that waiting that long for promised gains is insane but the job had other perks that none of us were overly eager to walk away from like excellent insurance, a strong 401k program, stock options, pension, and more. This was a company that we all felt could be where our careers kept us until we were ready to retire. It was a good, stable company, or so we thought for a time.

After the first several months of being strung along with empty promises, some on the team, myself included, began to resent our boss who we felt was the real holdup. We worked out of an office in Texas while he was located in our corporate headquarters in another state. Such a distant relationship may have contributed to the issues but we would call and email with our boss. He and I would exchange texts regularly and I would fly out to our HQ to attend various meetings as the lead developer for our team, often in the company of our boss. He and I would visit together while I was in town. I thought we had a good employee/boss relationship but with all of this, I felt that it was more of a false pretense to keep me placated about the issues in hopes that my acceptance would filter down to the rest of the team under me.

Frustrations finally boiled over on that topic. The entire team, me included, rallied together to voice our concerns and complaints only to be brushed off. At that point, it was only a matter of time before we all would look for other opportunities.

For me, a management position came up that could elevate me into a position over our team where I could fight for the raises and titles we had been promised. I put in for the position, one that was greatly qualified for considering I had led the team the position was set to manage for the past 4 years. Oddly, my application for the position was rejected by our HR department but no reason for the rejection was given.

In response, I reached out to our HR representative to see if I could get an explanation for the rejection. It was one of those polite, “what can I improve on to increase my chances for selection in the future” type messages. 

And this is where shit gets weird. 

Our HR rep replies telling me that I lack experience with the product in use that the team will be responsible for. Assuming a mistake has been made, I reply and point out that in my resume I listed that not only am I already on the team responsible for that product but that I am the team lead that has more experience and responsibilities than any of the other team members, some of whom had also put in applications for this position and had been granted interviews.

That email invoked a new response from HR regarding why I wasn’t given an interview. This time, their excuse was that I lacked a certain credential that the position required. This was odd for 2 reasons. First, that credential was another of the things we were promised when we were moved to that group but never received. Secondly, the other members of the group who had been scheduled for interviews did not have that credential either. Why would my application be rejected for missing that credential but others who also were missing it were given interviews if it was such a major requirement?

That was the straw that broke the camel’s back, as the saying goes for me. Our boss had led us on for over a year with promises of raises and titles befitting our roles within the company that far exceeded the jobs we were originally hired for. Now we had our HR department actively working to keep me from applying to a position that I was more than adequately qualified for and then giving bogus excuses about why when asked about it.

I had never felt more unappreciated in a job than I did right then. It was that day that I decided to send my resume to a consultant friend of mine who had tried several times to get me to apply. To say that he was happy to get my resume is an understatement. Less than a week later I was given a job as a consultant and the position paid more than double my corporate salary.

I have not looked back since. I love the group I work with now and have for over a dozen years. I enjoy it so much that I’ve even recruited some of my former co-workers to leave that corporate mess and join me in consulting. The teammates I left behind have also gone on to bigger and better things thankfully. Some of them are still with that company but work in different departments with different managers. Their titles and salaries have since been adjusted to match their current responsibilities.

In the end, it turns out that none of our team that applied for that management job got the position. The position ultimately went to someone who was in the management training program and it has since been learned that the company had a history of creating positions for people in the management training program but legally had to open the position for other applicants. While my colleagues were given interviews, I am firmly convinced that their interviews were just for show that the company could say they complied with legal standards but in reality, they had no intentions of hiring anyone else for that position. Which, when all of that is considered, it would make sense that my application would be rejected since I was a better candidate for the job than the person the job was created for. Easier to make up an excuse as to why I can interview for the job than risk having to create another job for the other person when I was given the job as the better candidate. 

And that’s not just to toot my own horn. I checked every box on the opening for job experiences and work history. The only box I didn’t check was the specific government-issued credential that the company had failed to provide as promised. In another twist to the story, other such positions with similar requirements had been filled by individuals who lacked those criteria but were given the condition that the position was theirs provided that they got the necessary credential within a specific timeframe. So why was this position any different? It wasn’t. They just didn’t want me competing for that position.

And in the current era of quiet quitting, I could have just refused to work to the extent that I was capable and could have made myself unavailable when asked for extra hours but that’s not my style. If I work there, I’m going to work there and be the best employee I can be. Rather than be a slacker on the job, I left what I felt had become a toxic environment and found a place somewhere else that makes me feel appreciated and valued.

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