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How you can grow as a consultant between assignments

Being a consultant often means jumping from one assignment to another without a break.

It offers excitement and challenges and to constantly develop to avoid getting stuck in routines and old habits, but also to be self-aware to avoid burnout. Therefore, it can be a really good idea to use the time between assignments to reflect, but above all take the opportunity to learn new things.


So, in this article I thought I’d share how I, as a senior IT consultant in test and quality assurance, have used the time between assignments to improve my knowledge and skills and stay motivated. I will also give you some tips on how to make the most of your “free” time as a consultant.


Think about yourself and your career


When you are on an assignment, it is easy to focus completely on the client’s needs and requirements and forget your own goals, interests, and own development as a consultant. But between assignments you finally have some time to think about yourself and your career. What do you want to achieve as a consultant? Which areas do you want to develop in? What types of assignments are you looking for? Which clients do you want to work with? It is crucial to reflect on these questions and paint a clear vision for your future as a consultant. It can help you find your niche, your passion, and your direction.


Create a plan for your development


When you have a clear picture of what you want to do as a consultant, it’s time to create a plan for how to get there. You can start by doing a current state analysis of your knowledge and skills. What are you good at? What do you need to improve? What is in demand in the market? You can use different tools to do a skills mapping, for example Skills Gap Analysis. Skills Gap Analysis is a tool that helps you identify and measure the difference between the knowledge and skills you have and those you need to perform your work as an even better IT consultant. With Skills Gap Analysis, you can prioritize the areas with the biggest gap and plan how you will develop. Then you can set concrete goals and times for your development and choose which methods and resources you will use to reach them. You have the opportunity to participate in courses, webinars, workshops, conferences, networking meetings or mentoring programs. You can also read professional books, articles, blogs and listen to podcasts in your field, as well as in personal development. There are tons of opportunities to learn new things, both online and IRL.


Learn what you want at your own pace and in the way you prefer


One of the advantages of being between assignment is that you can learn at your own pace and in the way you prefer. You don’t have to adapt to the customer’s pace, schedule, or preferences. You can choose what you want to learn and how you want to learn it. You can also be more focused and efficient, as you have a full 40 hours a week to devote to your education. For example, you can immerse yourself in a subject that interests you or try something completely new that challenges you. You can also vary your learning by using different formats, as well as combining theory and practice, for example by learning a concept from hands-on YouTube tutorials or Udemy courses and then testing it in a real project.


Work hard as usual but still recover


Being between assignment is not only a chance to learn new things, but also a chance to rest and recover. Being a consultant can be stressful and demanding and it is important to take care of your health and well-being. Therefore, it can be good to take the opportunity to do things that give you energy, joy, and relaxation. For example, it could be working out at the gym or socializing with other consultants. There is also a difference between working to meet the customers’ requirements and deciding about your working week yourself. You work 100% in both cases, but there is a big difference for the brain if you have responsibility only for yourself or for a client. When you’re between assignment, you can set your own boundaries, routines, and priorities. You can also strengthen your relationship with your consulting company, after you have been more or less disconnected from your consulting colleagues. For example, you can participate in internal activities, exchange experiences, give and receive feedback or just chat and have fun.


Boost your motivation and performance


Being between assignments can also be an opportunity to boost your motivation and performance. After you’ve been on a mission for a while, you can get comfortable and lose some of your drive. But when you’re between assignments, you can become more engaged and eager to deliver value to a new client. You can also showcase your new knowledge, skills, and certificates, which make you more attractive and competitive in the market. One of the best ways to keep the motivation going is to get various certificates, which prove that you have learned something and passed an exam. You will not only receive recognition, but also a reward. It is therefore a win-win situation both for you and for your future customers when you develop yourself.


Why customers should choose you as a consultant


By utilizing the time between assignments, you not only invest in your own future, but also offer your future client’s unique benefits. It is a chance to develop yourself and your offer. It is an investment in your future, which can give you great advantages when you are looking for new assignments. But it’s not just you who wins, but also your future customers. Between assignments, you have the opportunity to learn the latest trends and practices in IT and quality assurance, which you can then use to solve customer problems and create value for them. You also have the opportunity to improve your knowledge, skills and certificates, which you can then present to prove your competence and professionalism. And you have the opportunity to boost your motivation and performance, which you can then transfer to your work to deliver high quality and customer satisfaction. As a consultant between assignments, you are not only an available resource, but an attractive partner. Therefore, customers should choose you as a consultant because you have something extra to offer. You not only have practical experience, but also commitment. You not only have knowledge, but also curiosity. You not only have skills, but also ambition. You are a consultant who continuously grows and develops in the time between assignments – something that I know is in demand in the market.


During December, consultants based in different countries gave their best tips for keeping up to date on video.


To find out more about those tips, click on the image below.




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