I have had quite a few conversations recently with individuals who have found themselves starting a new career — one that their organization chose for them.

As I discuss when I moderate our Certified Contingent Workforce Professional (CCWP) classes, I do not believe anyone working in the contingent labor industry, whether on the provider side or the buyer side, ever aspired to do this work as a child, yet here we are today. How do you prepare — and better yet, educate — yourself to be successful in a role that not only did you never dream of being in, but probably have had no formal education in, either?

There are many resources available to the new program manager, and to those who want to bring their expertise to the next level.

The first step is to understand what is already in place internally. I would suggest not trying to identify where to make changes right away; instead, absorb all the details you can and take notes. What you will probably quickly observe is we are an evolving industry with lots of acronyms and industry-specific terms and processes. There is a lot to learn.

But if you are reading this, it means you have already found the best resource that is available. Staffing Industry Analysts, publisher of this newsletter, is the global advisor on staffing and workforce solutions. We have produced many resources that will be incredibly helpful and insightful as you start this new journey. All of these were created by Staffing Industry Analysts (SIA) and/or our Staffing Industry Analysts Advisory Group (SIAAG). Several of these resources are free, and are listed on our website under the Research heading as “free resources.” Here are a few that I feel are critical for a “newbie” to access and study:

The Lexicon of Global Workforce-Related Terms. This is the essential guide to the various terminology and acronyms used within the workforce solutions ecosystem. The workforce solutions ecosystem focuses on the key areas of talent acquisition technology, process outsourcing, payrolling/compliance, contracting/consulting and other workforce solutions.

Workforce Solutions Ecosystem. This report which covers the aforementioned ecosystem in greater detail.

Contingent Workforce Engagement Best PracticesThis document provides best practices for several of the actions/processes that a CW program is responsible for, from creating the requisition up to and including offboarding the selected resource. This is a must-read as it provides not only a great overview of the activities but also how to do them successfully.

Capturing Contingent Worker Data. It is possible that your program is already capturing some data within a technology. However, this document is helpful to understand what data at a minimum should be captured and how to start if it is not currently being done.

What’s in the Contingent Worker Bill Rate. Although it is unlikely that you will start to negotiate contingent worker rates immediately, it is extremely helpful to understand all that goes into the bill rate. Especially for those new to the industry, understanding the difference between margin and gross profit will make you a better partner with your staffing providers.

We cover several other topics other than those listed above and many do not require membership to access. They include not only additional reports and articles but webinars as well, all of which are available to the new CW manager and are located throughout our website.

Don’t forget, getting others’ perspectives can be quite educational also.  If you have a vendor management system (VMS) or a managed service provider (MSP), be sure to engage them as well in your learning process. They bring an abundance of insight and knowledge.

It’s possible that you may determine that you and your program need more than just the information you are able to gather on your own. Participating in the Certified Contingent Workforce Professional program is a great way to get a complete overview and understanding of the CW Program and the CW manager role in a class like setting. If having advisory and analyst support as well as tools and templates readily available is more appealing, consider the CWS Council membership.  With the various options of membership, there is sure to be one that would work for you and your organization.

So, while this may not be the career you dreamed of, it is a career that will provide you an opportunity to learn and grow constantly. It’s likely that no two days will be the same in this ever-changing industry. With this type of excitement and opportunity, who wouldn’t want to be in this industry when they grow up?