It’s September. Just as our children go back to school, many of us refocus our energy on our career. Next to January, September is the most common month for making resolutions about improvement.
With the increasing numbers of white-collar workers becoming serial or permanent contract workers (a survey of Harvard Business School alumni – 40% of whom are CEOs – reports that 49% say they prefer to hire contract over full-time staff), it makes sense to look specifically at where contract workers might focus their resolution making. I will share my checklist. What are your personal career-development resolutions for the coming year?
Better Yourself

In my research I have found three major areas in which white-collar contract workers need to continually maintain and develop their skills. For each area, I’ll identify the major questions both immediate and long-term that need positive answers. Not having a positive answer signals an area in which you should consider making a resolution.

1.Your Work Focus: Your contribution to an enterprise is the primary reason you will be employed. Yes, you need to be a good “fit” for the culture and you need to be able to get along with a wide variety of people, but what is the sine qua non of contract employment that you can do for the organization.
Can you define the contribution you can make to an organization in a sentence? (Of course, if your skills and knowledge can be packaged in multiple ways, you should have multiple sentences!)
And as a follow-up, more-proactive question: Can you articulate how your work is changing and do you have a plan to build your skills and knowledge to stay in demand?


2. Job Search Skills: One of the defining components of employment as a contract worker is that job search is more routine.
Do you need improvement in one of the major components of self-presentation in today’s working world? Writing cover letters? Interviewing? Personal Branding? Networking?
And, a follow-up proactive question is: What are you doing to build your reputation as a competent and committed worker over the long- term?


3. Life Skills: Becoming a successful independent worker requires a significant step up in self-management. Gone are regular performance appraisals, benefits packages, and dependable income year in and year out.
What do you need to improve about your money management? What do you need to improve about your time management?
And the follow-up, proactive question is: What investments are you making in having a fulfilling life for the long term?
Have I captured what you see as the major components of career development for white-collar contract workers? Whatever has come to you as you have read this short piece, write it down and devise a way to make improvement happen. Put it in your schedule and identify a date when you should have tangible steps completed. Hold yourself to that commitment. You are much more of your own manager now!



“Survey of Company Execs: US pay likely to stagnate” by Josh Boak.

Sally Power, Ph.D. is a writer, researcher, and personal consultant accelerating successful career transitions.

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