Instead of focusing on climbing the corporate ladder with one particular company, many IT professionals advance by working a variety of contract positions instead of taking long-term employment options with specific companies. In a way, working as a contractor can be seen as the practice of ‘strategic job hopping,’ allowing you to pursue new opportunities as they arise, regardless of whether a change in employer is required in order to do so.
If the idea of building your career through a series of unique positions is intriguing, but you aren’t sure if it is the right move for you, here are some benefits and tips for using contract positions to obtain career success.
Diversity and Experience
Professional contractors often have the opportunity to work for a wide variety of employers, across multiple industries, each with its own challenges and successes. This experience is valuable to potential employers who are looking to bring new ideas, varying points of view, or a large number of skill sets together.
Growth and Development
Different employers will have different expectations regarding how your skills should be applied, and may have you work with individuals with skill sets different from yours. This can present a wonderful learning opportunity. Whether it is formal on-the-job training or informal mentoring, the potential for growth may be greater than staying with one employer.
When done properly, contracting can help build a wide network of social and professional connections that could be leveraged in the future. Not only can this lead to job opportunities you might not otherwise be made aware of, it can also help you remain current in regards to industry happenings in various environments.
Some job seekers use ‘strategic job hopping’ in hopes of finding a best fit for their skills and interests. By changing employers somewhat frequently, a professional can experience a variety of work environments with differing goals and priorities. This can help employees gain a better understanding of what their ideal workplace may look like, and gives them an opportunity to explore a wide array of options.
Skill Set Specialization
If you would like to focus your career on a particular skill set or area of expertise, being open to working as a contractor may allow you to move between short-term opportunities that focus on your interest. In this regard, working as a contractor may be an ideal situation, as each project is often defined fairly clearly from the beginning, and has an ultimate completion date that allows you to move on to the next project with ease.
Advancement and Compensation
Being open to changing employers also provides opportunities for better compensation along with new job titles and responsibilities. While the ability to advance through the ranks with one employer may be limited, using outside opportunities may provide a faster path for career development.
Making the Benefits Work for You
In order to make these benefits work for you, it is important to organize information regarding your work history for future reference. Make sure to keep a list of key projects completed with each employer, as well as an up-to-date contact list. This will ensure you are able to differentiate the experience gained from one project to the next, and you will have references that can speak to your experience in these areas.
Additionally, just because you are focusing on contracting opportunities now, doesn’t mean you must continue to do so long-term. Except for when positions are specifically created with an end date in mind, as with a position tied to a specific project, if you find an ideal environment you can choose to remain instead of moving on to the next opportunity, if the option is made available.
If you are interested in learning more about how working as a professional contractor can help your IT career, or are simply looking for a new opportunity, the Squires Group can help with all of your career development needs. Contact the Squires Group today and get your career moving forward!