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Practical Information
Correspondence to other Consultants?
Updated:  Monday, December 14, 2015 04:46 AM
As a result of the circuits and articles that have been published, I have been contacted by engineers who are either already consultants or who are thinking about it. Most want to know how I became a consultant, why I remain a consultant and secrets of my success. I am including some representative excerpts from my responses to this kind of correspondence. Perhaps some of these letters contain information that you might find useful. They should give you some insight into the real world of consulting. All the warts and concerns are left intact. I encourage your comments about the consulting profession.

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Dear Paul,

I'm responding to your last letter asking about the job situation here in Denver. Over the past several months, I have noticed a dramatic increase in the number of engineers, technicians and assembly workers, that have called me looking for work. It seems to average about 3 calls a day. Usually, they get my name from a small advertisement I have in the Denver telephone yellow pages. At this time, the Denver area appears to be flooded with many skilled people, that have recently been laid off from many of the local aerospace companies. There are rumors that even more will find themselves unemployed this spring. There have been a few new small companies that have emerged, some were started by the engineers that were laid off and some by companies that moved into the Denver area from California. But, collectively they will not be able to absorb the excess labor pool that exists right now. I know of several engineers that have not been able to find engineering work for over a year. Many companies that find themselves in a shaky financially condition, are shifting from having permanent employees to hiring temporary people for specific projects. But, when the project is over, the people are back out on the street.

In times like these, the consulting business can be helped and hurt. It can help since a company may hire a consultant rather than a full time employee. Often a company can finish a project in a minimum amount of time with the minimum number of people by hiring an expert. It can hurt when companies don't invest in research or product improvements that often require outside experts. I hate to see qualified engineers rust in non-technical jobs. But, there is only so much I can do. My business is very unpredictable. I go from working 60 hours a week on some crash project to not have anything for several months. Usually, the months from October through March are slow. Last year was a good year, but this year is any ones guess.

In past years, I have hired some temporary employees, usually as technicians. But, when there were no contracts, I was finding I had to invent work for them. It was not a cost effective way to operate. Like many other companies, I find it easier to hire an outside consultant when needed (engineer or technician) and pay them for a specific task. Right now, I know of several other consultants that would love to have someone with good bread boarding and wire wrapping skills. I think any skilled person who can build things with their hands, will always be in demand.

To keep my overhead low, I work out of my house. I have turned my living room into an office and my dinning room into a computer center. My basement is full of parts, tools and equipment. I maintain a large inventory of parts that enables me to build something quickly, without any time wasted in ordering parts. I have the usual list of bench test equipment, DVMs, scopes, a frequency counter, several signal generators and several power supplies.

I will send you some information on some publications I have found helpful in generating a list of potential employers and consulting clients here in Denver.

Sincerely,

David Johnson

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