Smart Contractors Keep Their Skills Current

August 29, 2014

Dedication to self-improvement is important for any worker, but for a contractor, it’s vital. When you’re a contractor, your ongoing success depends on keeping your skills current. You probably don’t have anyone who can tell you which skills to develop next (or even which skills employers will be looking for over the next few years). As a contractor, it’s up to you to decide which skills to develop to meet your career goals!


Trends in the workplace and technology are changing rapidly, so it’s essential that you stay informed about your fields and the industries you support. Question what tools or techniques people in your field are excited about and what changes they are tracking. Thinks in terms of developing both hard and soft skills.


Hard skills are what people refer to when they say you do great work. For example, software and hardware and tool proficiency, running effective meetings, creating and delivering effective presentations, and project management would count as hard skills. Soft skills are the skills people refer to when they say you’re great to work with. These are skills like time management (punctuality and meeting deadlines), problem solving, creative thinking, teamwork, and a positive attitude.


How do you choose which skills to develop? First, choose a mix of soft and hard skills that you think will make you more effective or attractive to a hiring manager. You’ll probably find that learning no more than three new skills at a time is a reasonable goal. Set up a schedule and budget for learning. Here are some resources to get started:


Free to low budget

  • Use online resources like blogs, free articles, reviews, trade association web sites, free online learning sites, etc.

  • Take advantage of 30-day (or longer) free trials of software

  • Check out books from the library

  • Talk with coworkers (present and former) in your own and related fields to find out what changes and trends they are noticing


Moderately expensive

  • Subscriptions to services like Lynda.com and Safari Books Online

  • Memberships in trade associations

  • Local community college courses or fee-based online learning

Expensive

Attend trade shows, conferences, etc.


What are your experiences in obtaining new skills? Do you know any other learning options? Feel free to comment! Thanks for reading!


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Want to love Mondays? It’s possible when you love what you do. Paradigm is a San Diego staffing agency dedicated to finding the perfect job for candidates like you. We’re connected with some of the most innovative tech companies around, giving our employees that competitive edge needed in today’s job market. We hope to hear from you today, and let's make your career goals happen.

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