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Opportunity and Development Questions

Even during down times (in fact, it could be argued that especially in down times), you need to constantly develop your skills and be the person that seeks advancement. You want to get a sense that the company effectively invests in its people.

Question 8: Does the company cover costs for attending industry conferences?

While even good companies will cut back on conference participation when bad times hit, the well should not completely go dry. These events, despite the occasional reputation that they are mostly oriented towards "having fun" versus "learning stuff", provide critical networking opportunities that are simply not available elsewhere. This networking, if done well, often leads to either leads to buyers, or at least, better relationships with software companies that can provide great visibility for the consulting company.

Question 9: What is the company position on leveraging blogs or other social media?

Speaking of things that cost very little, if you are going into consulting, you do not want to do so as an anonymous peon who is locked up in a cage. Some companies – despite the fact that it is a nearly free way to get some great exposure for those who do it well – are hostile to blogging. Even though companies of all sizes – from small consultancies to companies as large as InfoSys, Google, and Microsoft – have company sponsored blogs, the fear that a client somewhere may not agree with something a consultant might say in public is strong in some circles. Given that such companies tend to be places where micromanagement is common in other areas as well, the social networking policy is something worth knowing before you accept an offer.

Question 10: What do you think of my 30, 60, and 90 day plans?

Most of the preceding questions are aimed at getting information from the firm so you can make a decision. However, if you are still interested in the job after the previous 9 questions, coming prepared with 30, 60, and 90 day plans for successful execution of whatever project they are talking about putting you on will show a nice level of initiative on your part. Being seen as the proactive candidate can only be a good thing – especially in an otherwise tough employment market.

Conclusion

Joining a technology consulting firm during hard economic times can be a great opportunity for the right kind of person. While there is no foolproof way to avoid all bad organizations, asking these questions will definitely open up a good dialog that good firms – the ones that are transparent, open, and honest about how they operate – will be happy to have.

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