In the current market, the rate of contract/ temp jobs in the Defence Sector is rising faster than permanent jobs. This is fairly typical of an industry in growth mode, and with demand for permanent workers with Defence Sector skills about to outstrip supply, many companies will seek to fill the gaps with contracted talent.
Obviously, there can be a number of advantages to taking up contract roles:
- Greater flexibility
- Opportunities to work on a wide range of projects
- Higher earning potential
- Less company politics to consider
- More opportunity for career breaks and travel
Sounds great, right? And it can work for many people, however, before you jump into the world of contracting, make sure you give some serious thought to these seven key considerations that every successful contractor needs to be aware of:
1. Good People Skills are Essential
Excellent communication skills are a must. You will be required to understand the contract requirements quickly and be able to keep your client across your progress throughout. You’ll also need to be patient and have the ability to adapt to a new environment in a short space of time. Remember, you won’t necessarily be welcomed as ‘one of the team’ by the permanent staff.
2. High Level of Job Skills are Expected
Contractors are usually required to have the skills needed to hit the ground running on new projects, with limited/no training. This requires you to have skills that match the role, as well as the confidence and maturity to manage the ups and downs during the contract.
3. Financial Planning is a Must
No, you don’t need to become a financial planner, but you will need to become more organised with your finances. As a contractor, you’ll have a higher earning capacity as you will likely get paid for every hour or day you work. When considering your contract and rate of pay, you should bear in mind that there will be times when you’re not being paid, i.e., sick leave, holidays or gaps between contracts and plan for these periods. Additionally, you need to take into consideration that you may now be in control of setting aside and paying your own taxes and superannuation.
TIP: Contract roles in the Defence Industry usually pay around 20% more than their permanent equivalents.
4. How Flexible Will You Be?
Sometimes you’ll need to go where the work is in order to stay in a job, so be prepared for a more nomadic lifestyle. This can be a downside to contracting if you have a young family with kids in school, or when a partner has a job that isn’t as flexible. You will need to be willing and ready to make some lifestyle compromises.
5. What’s Your Notice Period?
Contract work can move quickly, and you’ll need to be able to make fast decisions and jump on a role when a company requires someone to start urgently. If you are currently in a permanent position with a notice period of four weeks, then you may miss out on contract opportunities as you’ll be up against contractors who are in between roles. A good idea is to save up some holidays to ensure you can finish your permanent position quicker.
6. Build a Good Network
To ensure constant workflow, you should have good networking skills and maintain relationships with companies, managers, recruiters and employees as you move from contract to contract. Your paths often cross again, and past contacts may help refer good positions to you. This is one of the most important reasons why you should always see a contract through to completion and try not to burn bridges!
7. Security Clearance Management
As a security cleared contractor, you will have to pay close attention to who is sponsoring your clearance, and what systems are in place with your employer to manage it during, after and between contracts. Take responsibility, find the Security Officer within the company, and check with the Australian Government Security Vetting Agency (AGSVA) when in doubt.
There are many other things to consider as a contractor, like how you’ll get paid, insurances, accommodation, taxation, training, etc but if you do your planning, and play the long game, contracting can be a rewarding experience on many levels.
By Rob Kremer