Career Planning for Freelance IT Jobs

If you’re working in any freelance IT jobs, you’ll be well aware of how fluid and how fickle this market is, particularly in terms of contracts. You can be working with up to the second systems in one job and antiques in another. You can be working on excellent rates or rather dubious, stingy jobs where you’re not sure whether the money is worth the time and aggravation. Career planning may seem a luxury in this economic environment, but it needs to be done.

Freelance IT Career Issues

IT isn’t, and can never be, a static field. It’s constantly changing and developing. All IT professionals emphasize the need for a very strong well-rounded approach to their work and the issues of currency of skills. You need to ensure a healthy progression in your work into the higher paying, more interesting areas of IT.

There’s a very strong business element in career development for freelancers in particular. Freelance IT jobs are usually outsourcing work, and there’s a good reason for that approach by employers. It’s a cost-efficient way to obtain services which are basically expensive as salaried jobs.

The business mechanics of this situation for freelancers are brutally simple:

  • Your skills define your ability to operate effectively in this market.
  • Career progression means going up the professional scale through your work.
  • To progress, you must develop both your technical skills and your credentials as a contractor to get the higher paying jobs.
  • This is the most competitive professional environment right now.

Career progression is an absolute necessity. To succeed in this environment as a freelancer, you need to be ahead of the job market, and not at its mercy.

Planning Ahead, Getting Ahead and Staying Ahead

Your strongest skills are your best assets in achieving real career progression quickly and efficiently. You’ll already know what the next stage in skills development is, and what sort of jobs you want.

If you remember your basic training in systems flow charts, you can plan a progression in much the same way:

  • What’s your dream job?
  • What are the best paying jobs related to your strongest skills?
  • What skills, qualifications and certifications are required?
  • What sort of experience and industry credentials are required?
  • How far from those roles are you?

It's almost connecting the dots, but it works. If you can define a career aspiration, you can target it effectively. You’ll also note that the various upgrades will take care of the “current skills” issues.

Staying ahead of the job market is also a lot easier than industry mythology would have you believe:

  • Project work can give you a lot of very valuable credentials in a short time scale.
  • Systems design working with emerging technology is a virtual free shot in terms of skills development, and you get paid for doing it.
  • Your own systems design and other ideas can also be developed to create strong areas of expertise. If you’re a good system designer, you can achieve a lot because you’re doing better work for your clients.