You became an IT consultant for a reason. Perhaps it’s the variety, greater pay, or advanced challenges, but you likely embarked on your career path with concrete ideas of what you wanted out of your job. Yet making sure that you get the most mileage out of each contract takes careful planning and execution. In our experience, utilizing these five strategies helps make the most out of your IT consulting project and provides a boost to your overall career progression.
1.) Prepare Appropriately and Communicate Clearly
The process of maximizing your next IT contract begins before your start date. Do your homework by getting all applicable details from your recruiter and research the client company on your own to set your expectations appropriately. As your onboarding begins, communication is critical in making sure you can hit the ground running and impress all parties. A poll of hiring managers revealed that 77 percent of businesses value soft skills as much as hard skills, with communication being the #1 desired trait. Keep this in mind as you begin to set a strong foundation for the weeks and months ahead.
2.) Find Ways to Expand Your Hard Skills
While soft skills are important to businesses, 75% of each tech job advertisement is still dedicated to hard skills. Of course, you should meet the majority of a new contract’s skills requirements, but there are always a number peripheral skills you can learn on the job. If there are technologies that are just outside the scope of a project that may benefit it, find out how to incorporate them. Making the case for using certain languages, frameworks, or techniques in the planning stages of your contract shows the type of initiative that most companies are eager to use.
It’s important to keep your long-term career in mind when thinking about your skill set. This current role may be temporary, but it still becomes a permanent part of your work history and will have a dramatic impact on what your next role will be like. The more powerful your tech skill set becomes, the stronger your career will be.
3.) Update Your Resume Regularly
Everyone knows it’s important to regularly update their resume, and yet few do it effectively. Rather than just updating the content when you’re preparing for a new job, it’s important to make additions and revisions while you’re on an assignment. Those that wait for the end of a contract often find they’ve forgotten details or are scrambling to make changes to suit a great opportunity that has suddenly been presented to them.
Think of your IT contract outside of the box, with the resume being your chance to write your own story. The responsibilities of a role are important, but they need context. Think of your achievements and their tangible business outcomes. Did they directly increase revenue a certain percentage? Did they make a certain production process more efficient? Focusing on those deliverables as they appeal to a business’ point of view will help ensure each new contract builds on the one before it throughout your career.
4.) Make Connections That Can Leverage Your Future Search
It’s estimated that 70% to 85% of all jobs are found through networking, underscoring the importance of making connections. Even when you’re working with a great recruiter, it’s still important to build your professional network to help you achieve your long-term career goals. All of your contributions are fresh in the minds of your supervisors and coworkers. They’re much more likely to vouch for your skills when the benefits of your work are front-of-mind.
Make an effort to genuinely build relationships that last beyond your contract. You never know when you’ll encounter these professionals again, or what opportunities they can direct your future.
5.) Demonstrate Agility
Today’s tech world spins faster than ever, and businesses are increasingly adopting strategies that can change direction quickly. Your contract may be for a specific project, but as you’ve likely already seen, responsibilities in practice become more fluid. Take changes as they come, and remember that your ability to be flexible and respond favorably to the unexpected will have a big impact on your career success. Even when facing leadership changes or a number of other obstacles, an IT consultant that can go with the flow is a hot commodity to businesses everywhere.
Making the Most Out of Your Next IT Consultant Job
Every new IT contract is an opportunity to dig deeper into the tech industry and move your career forward. Those who rise to the challenge and focus on making the most out of their next IT consultant job will continue to get the best possible IT contracts.