If you are not improving your skills in a world that is changing at an ever increasing pace then, effectively you are going backwards. So, what are you doing about it?
Some people will point to their past contracts and suggest that their years of working in that role make them very experienced. Others would argue, though, that a Developer, for example, with 10 years of experience brings very little extra value than one with 2 years of experience. Their on-the-job skills improve dramatically in the early years, but the rate of improvement drops off dramatically after a while.
So ask yourself some questions:
- What are you doing to improve your skills?
- What could you do to be better?
- Are you still competitive compared to your colleagues who work in similar roles?
- What if your contract ended tomorrow?
- What could you do to get a better contract?
- Do you have any niche skills that set you apart?
- Are you willing to invest time/money to improve your situation?
When you really think about these things, it takes you a little out of your comfort zone; however, as a contractor, there is no way you can afford to be complacent. So get out of your comfort zone and invest in yourself.
- Take some courses.
- Take on special projects.
- Read plenty. About your industry, about the economy, about what is happening in the world, about other industries that might interest you, about different jobs and roles that might interest you.
- Get involved outside of work in non-profit organizations, sports clubs, charities etc.
- Keep building and maintaining relationships with recruiters.
Broadening your horizons, demonstrating interest and showing initiative will (1) increase your worth and service offerings, (2) it will make your work day that much more interesting, (3) it will reduce the chance that “you” will be left behind and without a contract and (4) it positions you well for your next contract.
Are you improving your skills? How do you do it? Do you have any tips for balancing continuous improvement with your contract commitments? We’d love your thoughts!