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A guide to improving your value proposition as a contractor
The contingent workforce is expanding—and getting more skilful. According to a global study by Michael Page, 70% of contract workers worldwide have at least a bachelor’s degree and 82% have 5+ years of experience. Around 61% of contractors self-report as undertaking increasingly complex roles—with 63% of employers agreeing with them. What does all this mean in real terms? The contractor space is getting more competitive and more specialised. Contract workers who want to stay relevant must stay on top of their own profes-sional development, and need to constantly be networking.
Identify a need
Keep up-to-date on trends and movements in your industry by following thought leaders and industry publications. This will allow you to be constantly looking to the future and predicting what it is that employers require from their contractors. For a more local outlook, you can also contact former, current and prospective employers and ask them what gaps they are looking to fill, and where they anticipate their resources going in the next six months to a year. If you can meet that need, it’s important to communicate that through your personal branding—on LinkedIn, in your CV and also via your recruiter. If not, look to invest in training so that your skills don’t fall behind.
Improving your skill level can be as simple as downloading a trial version of a new software and teaching yourself how to use it. Beyond that, you can look for a short intensive course delivered by a university or TAFE, a professional qualification provided by an industry body, or a full master’s or certificate course. Proving to a prospective employer that you invest in your own learning is a great way to show that you are committed to enhancing your career. Additionally, continually upskilling gives you the agility to stay at the forefront of your industry’s movements, and allows you to specialise in specific areas—both reasons an employer might seek a contractor.
Leverage your current position
Instead of waiting to try newly acquired skills with your next employer, offer to try them out in an existing position. If you’ve already earned the trust of a manager, they might be happy to give you the opportunity to practice. Ideally, this will be a win-win situation, where your manager will benefit from your new knowledge, and you will be able to test them in a real-world setting—which helps you sell your experience in future positions. You just have to make sure that you can provide quality work—or risk losing the goodwill you’ve built up. Contractors are frequently hired to help drive innovation in their employers’ businesses, so continuing to prove your ability to do so will benefit both you and your employers.
Specialisation in the contract workforce is on the rise. Stay up to date with current professional development in your industry
- Complete online courses or college courses
- Gain professional certification
- Discuss practising new skills with current employers
- Push your LinkedIn profile to build your network