It’s a hard balance to compete for top positions and job opportunities in tech, but still work independently. Career advancement and the life-work balance sometimes conflict, but you can find the best of both worlds. There are plenty of ways to grow your expertise independent of your current working situation.
Three Effective Ways to Work Independently
In today’s fast-paced work environment, you must find ways to grow in both your personal and professional lives. Staying stuck in a position that has no growth potential and is robbing you of passion is highly detrimental. Even if a job title switch isn’t on the horizon, you should still look for ways to keep your skills up-to-date and stay excited.
Here are three suggestions for advancing your career while but living the life you want.
Whether you’re working for a company full-time or are self-employed, chances are you can cultivate the opportunity to work remotely. There are even job sites like We Work Remotely that only post jobs that are not location specific. You have a couple options of how you can be engaged as a remote resource:
As an Independent Contractor / Solo-Consultant
In 2015, 15.5 million people in the US were self-employed according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. By 2020, it’s expected that more than 40% of the American workforce, 60 million people, will work independently. Those are huge numbers and prove that the job landscape is changing. As a temporary employee or as a part-time consultant, you have a tremendous opportunity for growth. Working for multiple companies at the same time broadens horizons and allows you to be the objective viewpoint who can connect the dots.
Modern tech teams typically use a mix of in-house and temporary team members to get the sprints done quickly and efficiently. Even if you work for a company full-time, consider putting in some extra hours on side projects to keep you stimulated and growing.
Working Off-Site Partially or Full-Time
If you’re a full-time team member and don’t already work from home, ask your management team if you can work remote. Even if it’s just once or twice a week, studies show that employees who work from home work harder and better.
In fact, 86% of employees said that they hit their max productivity when working remote, according to a survey. In addition, two-thirds of managers agree.
When given this opportunity, ensure that you’re using the extra time at home to work on personal development, as well. That can include reading publications and blogs about your industry, learning new skills through online classes or attending networking events with fellow professionals.
•Be a Thought Leader
Thought leadership is on everyone’s mind right now, especially those in the tech space. According to OpenView Labs, 50 different software and technology companies with revenues between $5 million and $25 million in 2010 have supported the idea that thought leadership is important to companies. You can give back to the entire ecosystem by learning from others, teaching others and contributing to new technologies.
Encourage industry professionals to get together and share best practices by organizing local meetups. Whether you create a club or just select a recurring place to meet and hang, you’ll start developing an independent persona outside the office.
By sharing and learning knowledge from other IT professionals, you’ll be able to contribute more to your work and develop in-depth industry expertise to position yourself as a thought leader.
Give Back through Teaching
With sites like Udemy, Lynda and Khan Academy, it’s easy to see the potential for success that comes from teaching. Develop a class and teach people your knowledge. Whether online or in-person, teaching others will help you grow personally and professionally. It’s also a great way to develop your reputation as a credible influencer in the tech space.
•Contribute to an Open Source Technology or Programming Language
Take some time outside of your paid positions to work independently on new technologies. Platforms such as GitHub, SourceForge, and Bitbucket are creating plenty of opportunities to get involved in awesome projects.
Contributing to projects allow you to expand your coding knowledge and work alongside others that are trying to achieve similar goals. You can build, modify or maintain technologies and/or become a core contributor. This paves the way for other lucrative opportunities, such as speaking engagements. All these practices will position you as an influencer or thought leader in your space.
Being known by name in the technology world as a thought leader will ensure you never a problem advancing your career.