Written by: Paul de Francisci
In our previous “Effective Contracting” series, we have provided some tips on how to perform your contract successfully, now let’s continue to How to Develop Your Professional Skills.
To remain competitive we have to continuously get better at what we do. If you feel you are not continuing to learn in a role you have taken on, be conscious of not falling behind in your professional development to your and your clients’ disadvantage.
Contractors working in professions such as those currently covered by iContract – finance, law and IT – are likely to have professional bodies that already require annual continued professional development (CPD). A professional contractor will need to take proactive steps to keep up their CPD; employees will often be looked after through HR programs that look after CPD-related admin. Look to develop additional complementary skills to put yourself ahead of your contractor competitors to win the best contracts.
Invest in training and apply new techniques to your existing contracts. Read around any training to gain additional knowledge; be proactive and think about offering a training seminar for your employee and contractor colleagues to pass on any knowledge you have learned (and impress your superiors in the process). This will increase your marketability and value in the workplace. Furthermore there can be real value in completing such training, such as a recognised certificate or relevant qualification.
If you don’t feel like going for the full-on training courses, you could always try some online courses, which can be watched at our own pace in the comfort of your home. Lynda.com – part of LinkedIn group, provides good quality training courses from software development, design to business management. Udemy is perhaps the largest online course provider. You can find literally anything there from marketing, coding, software training to soft skill development.
If you are operating through a limited company, you may be able to claim the cost of training as a company expense. Of course the cost of any training course, whether this can be claimed as an expense and the time out of paid work needs to be evaluated carefully.
Importantly, contractors should pay for their own training and not permit a client or third party to pay for or subsidise any training; this could fall foul of the IR35 safe harbour and be used against you in an IR35 investigation (on which subject please see prior blog iContract blog posts).
In summary, there is typically a close relationship between the capability a contractor can demonstrate in a specific skill area and their day rate. Quite simply, by keeping your skills up-to-date, you are likely to be able to command a higher day rate!