December 6, 2016 • Henry Thedieck
What to Do After Your First IT Consulting Job
You’ve done it. You landed that elusive first IT consulting job and toughed it out, rapidly learning about the industry and building a series of victories and connections. Now that your contract has come to an end, it’s time to look forward. The question becomes what are you doing to lay the groundwork for your next IT consulting opportunity?
Stay Sharp on Skills
Your first consulting role may have focused on specific tasks, so it is important to brush up on skills you did not use during that period of time. It’s also helpful to know which skills are in demand and how you can use those to remedy the greatest obstacles facing potential employers.
Cybersecurity, big data analysis, and cloud computing services have become vital concerns for most organizations. Also, Computer Systems Analysts are currently in high demand, and a focus on this area of consulting could bring bigger and higher-paying contracts your way. Proficiency in these skills increases marketability in just about any regional market. If your most recent consulting role lacked opportunities to sharpen these skills further, taking time to immerse yourself in tutorials, seminars, or relevant projects is crucial.
Look to both your local and online tech communities for additional practice. Open-source projects are a great way to stay in technical shape. Working in and reviewing Github repositories for specific programming languages, security, and data analysis can help to keep you being a leader in the space. Consider participating in Richmond hackathons to add some competitive fun to the mix. Plus, we recommend you seek out any additional information on trending tech skills (our popular tech skills in the Richmond area blog is a good place to start).
Idea sharing always helps to maintain technical proficiency, and networking opportunities are a great way to do just that. Building relationships also helps you keep a pulse on some of the intangibles happening in your field. What are other IT consultants talking about? Are they focusing on an emerging technology or skill that you have not yet mastered? Never underestimate how much you can learn simply from talking with peers in your industry. Tomorrow’s media headlines are topics being discussed on industry forums and subreddits today.
Fostering other professional connections is important for career growth. Just because one contract is ending does not mean it’s time to cut ties with that client completely, as you never know when you may work with them again on a future contract.
Update Your Resume
A simple yet often-overlooked task is the importance of keeping your resume and LinkedIn updated. What accomplishments did you achieve in your first consulting role? Now that the role is coming to an end, it’s the perfect time to reflect and update your resume to best reflect your current skill set. There’s no reason to wait months or years and risk forgetting important achievements.
It would also be wise to begin building a portfolio, even if it is just a collection of links to projects you worked on. Think about any professional wins you can present to potential employers. In some instances, that will involve writing case studies you led in your consulting role. In other instances, it will be more tangible like an overhauled website or mobile app. Having material proof of your accomplishments combined with a pinpointed resume will show recruiters your professionalism and may even land you a better than expected second consulting contract.
After Your First IT Consulting Job
Changing jobs can sometimes be a daunting task, but taking the right steps to prepare for your second consulting contract will set you up for a smooth transition. Staying sharp on skills, networking, and reflecting on accomplishments are excellent ways to be ready to hit the ground running in your next role. Plus, when you’re working with an experienced staffing firm you can rest assured you are in good hands.
At SMART Resources, we build relationships with our consultants to ensure smooth transitions between their contracts. View our jobs to see if your next great IT consulting role is among them.