The rapid rise of the gig economy shows no signs of slowing down. In fact, an estimated 34% of the workforce – and 43% by 2020 – is made up of temporary workers. As the competition for gig opportunities heightens, independent contractors need to find ways to maintain their edge. Here are a few basic guidelines to boost your career in the evolving gig economy.
The greatest value that independent contractors provide are their skills. With hundreds of other consultants in your local marketplace, differentiating yourself from the competition is crucial to your professional growth. The key is to define and leverage your strengths to gain a competitive advantage. Whether you’re extremely knowledgeable about a certain program or have extensive experience in a given industry, communicate this value to set yourself apart.
At the same time, pinpoint areas that you feel you’re struggling in. There’s always something new to discover in the world of technology. Brush up on skills you haven’t practiced in a while. Seek out learning opportunities through online resources or in-person tech meetups, and use those forums as a chance to ask your peers questions or receive feedback.
While landing a gig is quite different than interviewing for a full-time position, the same amount of engagement, enthusiasm, and professionalism is required for both. Do extensive research on the industry, company, and how your role fits into the grand scheme of the organization. Understand their pain points and what unique solutions you can provide for them. By exhibiting this knowledge, companies can see that you’re just as invested in them as they are in you.
Along with that, aim to demonstrate value throughout the duration of your contract. Be proactive in your work by anticipating challenges and potential solutions. Communicate quickly and effectively with managers and hiring professionals. Show companies that they can rely on your skills and expertise by delivering on all of the promises that you make.
By being an exemplary employee, you can quickly become a go-to resource for when a new project arises. Recruiters can provide future recommendations of your services to other industry professionals with similar needs.
A major key to longevity as an independent contractor is building and maintaining a strong network. Every introduction should be seen as an opportunity, regardless of the industry or sector that the individual is working in. Develop relationships with recruiters and managers where you can communicate your career goals. Regularly post compelling content and interact with connections on social media. The larger your reach becomes, the more opportunities will ultimately come your way.
The gig economy’s steady growth has made it evident that individuals are looking for an escape from traditional employment, seeking instead the greener pastures of flexible hours and latitude over the assignments they take on. The influx of competition into the marketplace can be intimidating and overwhelming. But these three simple but effective tips can help you further your professional growth while remaining ahead of the growing competition.
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