Think you’d be happier working IT contract jobs? Be confident and take the leap. The potential flexibility, skill set acceleration, and professional development make the pros of an IT consultant career outweigh the drawbacks. And that’s just by choosing to start a technical consultant career at all. The benefits of choosing a technical consultant career can be increased further with a strategic approach to your search for each IT consultant contract.
1.) Make People a Part of Your Job Search
The old expression that it’s not what you know, but who you know is sage advice for any aspiring tech consultant. Carrying out an annual or semi-annual job search alone can be exhausting, but consultants who turn to other professionals shorten and simplify their contract search. By networking with your friends, family, peers, and other professionals, you create a network willing to keep their eyes open for contracts that will advance your career. However, success requires two factors: the confidence to ask for help, and clear communication about the roles you want.
As musician and performer Amanda Palmer says in her TED Talk, “when you connect with them, people want to help you,” so the key is to interact with and assist people in their own careers. That can range from providing thought-provoking articles that they’d appreciate to hot tips on career opportunities. Then, ask for help, be unafraid to let people know about the specifics of your career goals, and convey your appreciation for their assistance.
2.) Pursue Competitive Skill Sets
People who thrive in contract roles effectively read the tea leaves and anticipate which skill sets will yield the most fruit in their IT consultant career. That requires them to have knowledge of the local and national supply and demand, which can be time-consuming to track. As of right now, these types of IT consultant contracts are seeing the greatest shortage of skills and are therefore providing the most lucrative opportunities:
- Big Data – The shortage of experienced big data/data science specialists (especially with MapReduce and Cloudera expertise) make companies seek out consultants to close the gap. They depend on experience with advanced algorithms for strategic insight – even if they can only get that expertise on a project basis.
- Mobile Development – We’re at the point where every company needs a mobile app, but not every company needs a mobile developer on their payroll. Tech consultants with a range of experience in HTML5, Java, Swift, and other mobile-friendly programming languages will keep their IT consultant career filled with contracts.
Being proactive keeps your skills from going stale. Regularly research top trending skills so you can leverage what you have and pivot to learn complementary skills along the way.
3.) Think Long Term With a Five-Year Plan
One mistake that some new IT consultants make is to treat contract positions like a reactive decision. They snatch up what is available as it becomes available and gain their skills in an extemporaneous way. A successful IT consultant career is built upon a long-term strategy, hopscotching across positions with a set goal in mind.
How do you go about building that plan? Ask yourself these questions:
- Which skills do you want to learn? More than just reading the pulse of the market, what skills are important to your future career? Not every position includes all of those skill sets at once. Yet planning out which IT consultant job will build into more advanced skills can help you choose better IT contracts.
- What industry do you enjoy working in? On top of their technical skills, IT professionals often need to build competencies in other industries (finance, healthcare, or oil and gas are just a few examples). Your contract pool might dip, but the quality, compensation, and career satisfaction increase.
Trust Your IT Consultant Career to a Recruiting Partner
All three of these practices contribute to a thriving IT consultant career but require considerable effort. Rather than redirect time from their work or personal lives, successful IT consultants often partner with a staffing firm to handle the logistics of their contracting. A good staffing partner maintains networks to find job opportunities, keeps current with the latest demand and industry trends, and can help provide career advice as needed. When IT consultants work with an ESOP staffing firm like IDR, they can even influence the growth of their own wealth as our firm grows.
Want to find contract opportunities that fit your career goals? Check out our latest jobs.