The Soft Skills Most Crucial for Contract Workers
Most contract workers are hired to provide highly specialised technical support. However, that doesn’t mean that interpersonal skills don’t come into play. Soft skills – sometimes referred to as people skills or interpersonal skills – have always been sought-after by employers, and that’s unlikely to change any time soon.
In fact, way back in 1918 – yes, that’s right, 1918 – research from Harvard University, the Carnegie Foundation, and Stanford Research Centre revealed that 85 per cent of ‘career success’ was down to the individual having strong soft skills. Only 15 per cent was said to be a result of hard skills, such as technical knowledge.
Now, more than a century later, technology has evolved beyond those professors’ wildest dreams, but the sentiment of the study remains much the same. A specific set of technical skills will always be a requirement for contractors, but what will set successful candidates apart is their breadth of soft skills.
Here’s a look at three of the most crucial soft skills that contract workers need in order to thrive in their roles.
In any industry, the ability to translate complex information into simple, understandable terms is a significant advantage – but in data and analytics, it’s absolutely vital.
Employers are eager to meet contractors that can confidently explain how their technical findings impact business performance, seamlessly bridging the gap between data professionals and non-technical audiences.
To do so successfully, the contractor must have a solid understanding of which metrics the relevant stakeholders value most highly, as well as how familiar they are with sector-specific jargon. The former comes with time and practice, and the latter with patience and careful observation.
When a contractor is assigned a new project, they’re expected to hit the ground running and make an immediate impact, filling whatever skills gap has arisen. There’s no time to research the current state of the market – this is something contractors are expected to already know inside out, making them well-equipped to thrive in a fast-paced environment.
Given the pace at which technology is evolving, it’s also crucial that contractors remain ahead of the curve in terms of upskilling themselves to work alongside new technologies, as well as keeping on top of changes to existing ones.
No matter whether a contractor is working on a short- or long-term project, their placement is a temporary one – and this will likely result in different dynamics within the team they have been assigned to.
Not only will contractors need to have the resilience to bounce back if they don’t immediately gel with the team they’re working with, but they’re likely to spend at least some of their time – if not all – working in a remote setting. Without being surrounded by peers to share the burden of the difficulties that may arise, contractors need to be strong-willed and able to self-motivate even during tough times.
Inevitable challenges aside, contracting is now a fantastic career choice for many Data Analysts. If you’ve recently become a contractor and have any questions or would like further advice, get in touch with Dave Curtis.