By Jonathan London on 10th July 2014

Guide to Long Term Contracting: Updating your skills regularly

One of the biggest perks of being a freelancer is the fact that you have much more control over the way your career progresses.

As such, you have a bigger say in which new skills you choose to acquire and how this will affect the direction of your professional life. Adding new skills to your repertoire is incredibly important for a contractor, as it gives you more ammunition with which to market yourself to potential clients.

Why is it important?

Constantly updating your skills will give you another sting in your bow and could set you apart from others who offer similar services to yours.

The best businesses evolve and adapt with their surroundings and this is also true for a top freelancer. If you have a broad skill base, it’s likely that you’ll be considered more favourably by a client.

What’s more, new qualifications can give you a different perspective on certain matters, giving you the ability to think outside the box when new challenges arise.

How do I know when to update my skills?

The frequency with which you update your skills can depend on the industry that you work in. Some sectors are more fast paced than others and, as a result of this, require a freelancer to add new things to the CV on a regular basis.

For example, an IT contractor may have to obtain new skills often as the level of change in this sector is very high. Learning to use new software, programmes and other new developments all have to be taken into account.

Engineers may wish to apply for a Chartered Engineer qualification, which can open up new doors in the engineering world.

Construction contractors may specialise in one specific area but by adding new skills to their repertoire, they can take on a greater variation of work.

Are my skills out of date?

It’s a good idea to keep up-to-date with trends in your industry in order to make sure you’re meeting the requirements expected of you. By signing up to newsletters and other industry publications you can stay abreast of new developments and act appropriately if you are.

Keeping an eye on your competition is also a good way of doing this. What new skills are others in your industry taking on and would it be worthwhile for you to do the same?

How to obtain new skills

There are a number of ways you can go about learning a new skill. For some contractors and freelancers there may be courses that you can take. These may be online or practical training days.

It’s often the case that the more skills you have, the higher the rate of pay you can command. This means that it’s wise to keep an eye out for potential training courses that you know will add to your marketability and value.

Consider what’s in demand at the moment, is it likely to last or is it something that’ could only be around for a year at most? Only take on skills that are relevant to your sector and profession.

Be selective with contracts

As a freelancer, you can pick and choose which contracts you think are best for you. This can help you to develop new skills and acquire new experience.

For example, if you have the choice between two contacts and one will offer you the chance to learn something new, it may be worth taking that opportunity even if it means a slight pay cut. Although, it could be less money in the short term, it could pay off further down the line.


By attending conferences you can get together with others in your industry and learn new skills. This is best suited to fast moving sectors, such as IT, as there tends to be a great deal of conferences held in relation to this.


Some training courses can be claimed as a business expense, making it worthwhile for many to take them on. For more information on this, keep your eye out for our expenses guide!

Jonathan London Written by Jonathan London

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