Friday, 12 July 2013

Guest Post - 5 reasons why keeping your IT skills current will keep you contracting


Employers look for both recognised, up-to-date qualifications as well as relevant experience from their contractors. However, as many successful contractors will vouch for, taking time off to get training or re-register their qualifications can be the last thing on their to-do list – especially when another contract calls.

Qualifications are becoming increasingly important in the contracting industry. Here are just 5 of the reasons why keeping your IT skills up-to-date is crucial to having a long-lasting contracting career:

1. Increase your potential earnings -  There is a vast discrepancy in the rates attainable for various types of work so whenever possible you should look into training in some of the more highly paid skills so you are able to earn your maximum daily rate. The cost of courses can sometimes be high, but the potential rewards can also be great

2. Open the door to new opportunities - The broader your skill set, the wider the variety of contracting opportunities that will be open to you. Be careful not to get pigeon-holed, if you happen to do a few more contracts of the same type then you might find yourself being limited to one speciality – however unintentionally that may be. Keeping up-to-date with qualifications will prove to employers that although the majority of your experience may have been concentrating on one skill, you are capable of taking on other types of contract roles.

3. Stay ahead of the competition - Unlike permanent employees, contractors are unlikely to receive on-the-job training. Contractors will often have been brought on board specifically because they already have a particular skill which the company needs, therefore are expected to know what they’re doing and add value from the get-go. Where on-the-job training is not available the responsibility ultimately lies with the individual contractor to ensure that they undertake the necessary training in order to keep up with the skills that permanent employees are gaining in the workplace.

4. Avoid early termination in the recruitment process - Employers will often now specify to recruiters that candidates must have the relevant qualification to be suitable for their role, as well as having had experience in the area. You may have had years of experience but if a qualification has been specified as essential, which you do not possess, then your CV won’t even make it past the first screening and you could be missing out on your perfect contract role to someone who has the desired qualification but only half the experience.

5. Keep up with the rate of change in technology - The consistently rapid development of existing technologies and the creation of new technologies mean that IT contractors’ skills, experience and knowledge need to be updated more frequently than perhaps contractors in other industries. This is where re-registration becomes vital; if your qualification is a few years old there may well be gaps in your knowledge. Not only this but re-registering also demonstrates to employers that you are truly committed to keeping your knowledge up to date.

It can be frustrating for experienced contractors who feel that qualifications are simply a badge; and equally for those who find it extremely difficult to get the time off to re-register their existing qualifications or train for a new skill. However, all things considered, if it means that your contracting career is longer and healthier, it could well be worth bumping it up your to-do list! 

For more hits and tips on contracting and how training can ensure you secure your ideal IT Contract job please visit Contractor UK

About the Author: 
Laura Foster writes for ContractorUK on various topical issues surrounding the IT contracting market including new and existing legislations, jobs, interviews, training, money and service providers.