Archive for June, 2011

21st Century Skills for Boomers

Thursday, June 9th, 2011

Employers are managing costs by hiring people as contingent, temporary or project-based work. So they look to people who have both a breadth and depth of skills.

Boomers bring judgment and knowledge of how to get things done…especially when the computers are down.  But what Boomers may not have is the skills to be the most attractive contingent, or contract worker, to the employer. Much like being self-employed, the contingent candidate must have:

1) Excellent Customer Service Mindset and Skills.  As a contingent worker, your employer is your customer, as well as any of the internal functions and the service/product buying customers.  This comes through in how you respond, the initiative you take and how you resolve (or prevent) problems.

2) Contracting Savvy.  This is the business end of a good working relationship.  One key is to make explicit the expectations and boundaries without making demands.  Effective and good spirited negotiating and flexibility will help get the relationship off to a good start.  Determine who will be handling taxes (1099 or W-2?) and what company-provided perks are available to you.  Often they are very different than what employees have come to expect. ( Don’t assume you are invited to office social functions.)  It is up to you to have the required insurances and licenses.  Your state SBA or Tax/License offices can assist.

3) Courageous Communication. You must speak up to effectively provide feedback on meeting the expectations of your working relationship. Conversely, you must willingly receive feedback, no matter how badly it may be delivered, i.e., complaints, sarcasm, etc. Ask questions to clarify, not defend, then make the necessary corrections to stop, change, or start doing what’s needed from your Customer.

4) Time Management.  This is not only showing up on time and meeting deadlines, but also availability for handling the unexpected.  If you are juggling more than one project, it is ensuring that you’ve budgeted enough time that they don’t encroach on each other.

5) Integrity and Honesty. You are only as employable as your Customer trusts you.  Don’t skimp, take short cuts or do anything your employer can construe as unethical.  Be sure you know the workplace rules and policies. Then rise above the minimum expectation.

These things apply to many of the professions and 21st Labor needs. Whether you’re looking at the “hot” fields of  Health Care, Energy, Infra-Structure, Manufacturing, IT or Agriculture, boosting these skills can help you create and develop a stellar reputation.