The Easiest Way for Independent Contractors to Increase Training and Development... for Free!
IT professionals are always busy juggling contracts, submitting applications and proposals for future work, managing their business and, of course, balancing all of that with their personal life. As with any competitive market, though, if you fall behind, you quickly lose your edge when being considered by recruiters. While you need to stay above water in your day-to-day life, you also need to be planning ahead to keep your skills relevant with the newest trends and technologies.
There are a number of training opportunities out there for independent contractors and free resources to improve your skills, but just learning about them can be time consuming. Rather than wasting time seeking out the latest trends or searching for the best development courses, we recommend letting them come to you! The simplest way to do this? Set up a valuable feed in your favourite RSS Reader.
This isn’t the first time we’ve mentioned RSS Feeds in the Talent Development Centre. To review, nearly every quality blog, periodical, or online resource that regularly publishes information has an RSS Feed, which lists all of its latest content. With the right feed reader (for example Digg or Feedly), you can easily manage each of these feeds. This video from earlier in the summer provides instructions for setting up your RSS feed.
The first time we suggested setting up an RSS Feed was last Spring, in a post that provided tools to be the most informed independent contractor in your network. It boasts the advantages of LinkedIn and Twitter, along with explaining the benefits of RSS Feeds. In this post, we focused on following clients and job searching opportunities, but the same can be applied to your training and development needs.
The sources you follow don’t need to be geographically close to you, nor do they always have to have content specifically for you. An advantage of feed readers is they allow you to quickly skim through content from a wide array of websites. To get started, think about:
Blogs or websites related to your discipline (you probably already know of a few)
Larger publications that relate to technology trends
Sources that give advice about business and management
Any of the sources we suggested last June to keep up-to-date in business and tech trends
Once you’ve set your feed reader, you can forget it, at least until you have time to read it. The best RSS feed readers have a mobile app, so you can check out your articles on the bus, in a waiting room, or when dealing with awkward moments at a family reunion. That’s right! While your annoying cousin is babbling about his trip to the Grand Canyon, you can be learning and moving your business forward!
Bonus: Don’t waste time, use Pocket!
It’s impossible to only come across great articles when browsing your feed reader, but reading the best ones as you find them can be a terrible use of time. To solve this problem, we recommend Pocket. With pocket, you can install a Chrome Extension or download a mobile app, and when you come across that fantastic article, just hit “Save to Pocket”. Now, it will be available for you next time you log into Pocket, at your own convenience.
Keeping on top of technology trends and your trade can be a time-consuming task where you may not feel you’re getting value, but in the long run, you definitely are. As long as you can remain organized and fit it into your schedule properly, you will soar ahead of your competition and gain the attention of recruiters in no time. While there are many elements to training and development, organizing your feeds is certainly a great start.