When it comes to the Defence Industry, the rate of companies taking on contractors is rising faster than the rate of change in our Prime Minister. It’s a great time to dip into the contracting community, but there are understandably some hesitations when it comes to being the nomads – albeit richer nomads – of the workforce.
Here are some of those common reservations on jumping into the contractor space – and why they’re not as bad as you think:
Fear 1. Lack of Workplace Relations
If you are the type of person who actually likes hanging out with co-workers after the daily grind, you could be afraid that by being in a transient role, and potentially changing workplaces a lot, you will miss out on the relationships formed in a permanent role. While it’s true that you may move around, the benefits awarded from having such a diverse network and knowing so many people in many places outweigh not being in the yearly Secret Santa in the same office. Besides, there are not too many people who will turn down a beer after work in the summer, so there’s always plenty of opportunities to socialise. Alternatively, there’s always Jean-Paul Sartre’s viewpoint: “Hell is other people.”
Fear 2. Finances
The million-dollar question. Literally. It’s well known that your hourly rate is on average 25% more than when you are a permanent employee, to compensate for annual/sick leave, etc. While that is a lovely dangling carrot, it can still be a bit intimidating. Especially if you are not the best with budgeting and are worried about periods in between contracts, or if you have medical issues, and know you will need to take time off. Yet, the ability to take leave whenever you want, and not be limited by time, is something that many find attractive enough to contract – again, not to mention the much higher rate. You can still work 9-5, five days a week, but be paid more, in addition to all the other benefits of flexibility. If you can be organised, you can make contracting work for you.
Fear 3. Inability to progress
“If I’m constantly starting afresh, how do I ever get promoted?”
“I won’t get a chance to upskill while contracting, as I’ll only ever be a temporary worker.”
Contracting gives you the chance more than ever to upskill by exposing you to a variety of different environments, experiences and people. Not only can you take time off whenever it suits you to put yourself through courses, but you also pick up a unique set of skills from working in different workplaces – and it’s these valued experiences that bump up your rate and status. Further, you can’t get stuck in a rigid promotion scheme, waiting your turn to rise through the ranks. You grow (and get more expensive) as your resume does, giving employers the (correct) impression of seniority and experience. Job titles and promotions vary between workplaces, but a solid CV with strong, varied experiences, multiple qualifications and skills, and a list of referees a mile long will always be impressive to a hiring manager.
Fear 4. Job Security
This is perhaps the biggest fear that keeps people away from contracting. As humans, we are inherently risk and change-averse, so it’s almost against our nature. And the fear isn’t completely unfounded – there is no guarantee of a contract straight after another ends. However, the truth is that job security is a myth even for permanent positions. In the current market, which is more dynamic and reactive than ever, no one is safe – dramatic, but true. It is just as easy for a permanent employee to be made redundant, and as the majority of work in Defence Industry is project-based, this happens more than you would think. So, while the security fear, is somewhat valid; it’s not any less valid than permanent. Indeed, as Benjamin Franklin wrote, “in this world nothing can be said to be certain, except death and taxes”. So why not contract?
By Emily Small
Emily recently discharged from the military and has now found herself in recruitment, where she is specialising in contractor management and introducing new ways to enhance the contractor market in Defence Industry. Give her a call on 02 9492 7512 for a chat about how you can get into contracting in Defence.
Photo by Paweł Czerwiński on Unsplash