3 Steps to Advance Your Contracting Career
Now that we’re halfway through February, how many of us are still working towards our New Year’s resolutions? If you’ve made it past January 17, the official Ditch New Year’s Resolutions Day, then congratulations! And for those who marked the occasion, it’s still early enough in the year to get back on track.
Focusing on career advancement commonly makes it to the top of the resolution list every year. Contracting professionals may find that challenging since getting to the next level typically requires successful completion of required training along with mastering certain professional skills. It’s easy to just concentrate on the technical component, but neglecting the “soft skills” can be a hindrance to achieving the next level of success.
The Federal Acquisition Institute (FAI) has outlined a Contracting Competency Model that includes technical components as well as professional elements essential for the contracting career field. Technical competencies are typically addressed through required courses for those who are seeking FAC-C or DAWIA certification. Honing your professional skills, such as problem solving, oral and written communication, and business acumen, requires a combination of training and non-training options.
So, what should you do differently this year to move forward on your path to success? While there are often roadblocks to skill development in the Federal workforce, here are three steps you can always take that will help you reach the next level:
1. Identify Gaps
Make an appointment to talk to your Acquisition Career Manager (ACM). Find out if your agency has a career progression model. Most models outline the progressive experience needed for advancement. Determine where your gaps may be through self- as well as peer-assessment tools. Your ACM may be able to direct you to the best options for these resources.
2. Make a Roadmap
Create a map of courses that you need to take and supplement it with courses and other experiential opportunities to help develop your professional skills. If you need a roadmap to get you started, take a look at our Training Course Guide for Contracting Professionals. Post your roadmap in a visible place as a daily reminder of your progress and future goals.
3. Explore Options Outside of Traditional Training
As training dollars continue to be tight, get creative. Seek professional growth opportunities through progressive assignments and cross-functional opportunities. Some departments have existing programs within the organization and possibly with other agencies to develop the skills you need. Consider coaching and mentoring as additional avenues to reinforce the learning, discover new breakthroughs for yourself, and provide the support to continue down your journey.
Remember that you are in control of where you want to take your contracting career. Be an advocate for your own advancement. Resolve to be one step closer to your desired career progression by this time next year.