One of the great things about working for yourself as a contractor is having more control over the direction of your career. However when you are meeting tight project deadlines while simultaneously interviewing for the next job, it’s easy to overlook the bigger picture. It’s vital to set aside some time and start thinking about how you can forward your career by adding new skills, qualifications and experiences to your resume.
Here are eight reasons why it’s important to improve your skills:
1. You’re the driver!
It’s worth remembering you are your own mentor, HR department and boss. Nobody else is going to be looking after your contractor career development except you, so you need to be the instigator of change. Rather than resting on your laurels, make sure you are moving forward to ensure you don’t get stuck in a rut.
2. Win new work.
One of the main reasons for adding to your skill set is to be able to win new types of work, which may be more interesting or lucrative. It may be as simple as completing one of the oDesk skill tests in order to seal the deal, or you may want to branch out into something completely new--which involves retraining and new education courses.
3. Increase your hourly rate.
Job satisfaction is important, but so is getting paid. If that summer vacation still looks out of reach, you may need to invest in some training or certifications to ensure you end up with a better rate of pay.
4. Play catch-up and stay knowledgeable.
Many professions require you to keep on top of new developments, which can move very fast. So if there is a new software release, or a dynamic new design trend, you may need to have that knowledge under your belt so you’re better equipped to compete on your next job interview.
5. Stand out from the crowd by combining skills.
Over the next few years the world of contract work is undoubtedly going to get more competitive. You many need something extra to really stand out. Sometimes unusual combinations of skills can result in you having a unique selling point. Are you a programmer who also knows about accessibility? Are you a graphic designer who can also write great copy? Merge your talent and your passions to find creative combinations that make you more marketable.
6. Highlight your talent.
If you know that you have a talent -- such as writing -- but it is rather unproven, and you don’t have enough experience in that area to get hired, then having a formal qualification may help you get your toe in the door on relevant projects.
7. Impress employers by demonstrating your character.
Employers love self-improvement. They greatly respect individuals who are moving forward and developing themselves, and if you can demonstrate this -- particularly at the interview stage -- then they are likely to consider you the type of person they would want to work with.
8. Reap the personal rewards
The most important part of learning a new skill or undergoing training is the sense of achievement you will feel when you move forward. Moreover, the whole process of learning is rewarding and interesting, and you can gain insights into your own capabilities and character. You may also meet friends and valuable business contacts on the way. You really can’t lose when educating yourself, improving your skill set and advancing your own contract career.
Are there any other reasons why it’s important to improve your career? Have you had positive experiences from training or learning new skills? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below.