So You Got Laid Off. Now What?

Getting laid off is scary. For consultants, sometimes it’s easy to see coming; after a certain amount of bench time, firms can no longer justify keeping someone on payroll if they’re not billable. Other times, a consultant can walk into the office the morning after wrapping up a project to find a surprise pink slip awaiting them. Regardless of the reason, a layoff can feel like a huge career setback. But that’s not always the case. In fact, getting laid off might be the push you need to really get your professional life off the ground.

It’s not you, it’s the industry.

In the past few years, job security just hasn’t been what it used to be for consultants at major firms. Layoffs seem to make headlines every couple weeks, sending shivers through benched employees without solid upcoming project prospects.

For big consulting firms, it’s all a numbers game. Cost-cutting is on the rise, and managers frequently feel pressure from higher-ups to increase utilization rates. This is the easiest measurable way to demonstrate resource efficiency, despite calls to end the practice. How can managers increase their department’s average utilization rate in one step? Simply get rid of those who have seen more bench time in the past few months. If your project happens to end at the wrong time, you might find yourself included in the cut, even if your performance has been outstanding.

Make the most of your layoff.

The bottom line is that working for a consulting firm doesn’t provide the same job stability that it used to. But if you find yourself getting laid off from your consulting position, it might be for the best. Forbes recently reported that employees who stay at companies for more than two years on average earn 50% less over their lifetime. As a salaried consultant, you can probably expect to negotiate a 3% raise each year, which barely covers inflation. If you decide to go independent after being laid off, however, you’ll find yourself in a position to increase your own rates with each new project, leading to huge gains over time.

During the tumultuous period following a layoff, taking on additional risk by going independent might be the last thing on your mind. That’s where Bench SME comes in. The platform provides all the support you got from the consulting firm, like marketing and billing, without having to worry about job security. Bench SME will even help you calculate what your new rate as an independent should be and cut you a steady paycheck every two weeks.

Getting laid off from a consulting firm isn’t the end of the world. In fact, you might be able to substantially increase your salary following a layoff by deciding to go independent. Let Bench SME help you figure out how much you’re really worth as a consultant.


Laid off? Let’s talk. Contact a Consultant Success Manager at csmteam@lyghtning.com.

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