Roles within the defence industry come in all shapes and sizes, and sometimes it can be hard to know what will be right for you. The way an organisation engages employees has gone from employed or unemployed to full-time, part-time, contracts (short or long term), fixed-term, permanent and everything in between. But what truly differentiates these terms and what is going to work the best for you?
Ultimately the choice will be determined by your personal situation. Are you the sole earner in your family? How important is stability – can you rely on only a possibility of ongoing work? Are you keen to get as much varied experience as you can? Is a higher salary a major motivator for you? Are all these questions overwhelming you?
Don’t worry - we’re here to make it easier for you. The fundamental decision you need to make is whether you want a contract role or a permanent role.
To help you weigh it all up, we’ve broken each down and outlined some pros and cons.
Contract work means you are employed on an hourly or daily basis and only get paid for the hours you work. Contracts can last from two weeks to two years and can be extended or cut short, depending on how a project is tracking. Defence industry contracts can either be to a prime or SME or directly to the Commonwealth through the Request for Quotation and Tasking Statement (RFQTS) process. Basically, you are employed to do a set job within a set time frame.
Some perks of a contract role include:
- Often pays more in comparison to permanent positions.
- Provides candidates with a greater variety of projects, technologies and teams to work with.
- Allows people more flexibility with their time.
- Acts as a foot in the door to new industries or companies and provide excellent networking opportunities. The varied experience you can gain and the people that you meet can be a brilliant pathway to future opportunities.
However, there are some downsides to consider:
- A contract end date isn't necessarily set in stone and can lead to job insecurity. A contract can be cut short or only extended at the last minute.
- There can be gaps between contracts, meaning you must make sure you’ve budgeted enough to see you through to the next role.
- You don’t get paid for annual or sick leave, and there is no guaranteed investment from the company in your professional development.
Securing a permanent role means that you have an ongoing position as a member of staff within an organisation. That organisation pays you a salary and is responsible for your wellbeing while at work.
Permanent work has great positives attached to it.
- Stability is much higher in permanent work, and you get staff perks like paid annual, sick and carers’ leave, as well as access to bonuses.
- Get the opportunity to work end to end on long-term projects.
- Opportunities for progression are also more prevalent within permanent positions, both in terms of promotions and professional development.
- If you are new to defence, permanent roles generally offer a better opportunity to gain a security clearance.
Being a permanent staff member can bring disadvantages as well.
- If your organisation is lacking in exciting or fulfilling work, you can become bored – even if it is exciting, repetition can make any work tedious. There’s not always the opportunity for much variety in a permanent role, and that should be considered.
- Internal politics can also be an issue at times – everyone knows you were dancing on the tables at last year’s Christmas party.
- The base salary is generally lower than what you could make in a contract role.
- You’ll likely get less exposure to a wide range of technologies and projects.
What about fixed-term contracts?
Fixed-term contracts are like the lovechild of permanent and contract roles. They involve bringing a candidate on in a permanent capacity as a member of staff, but for a pre-determined period. This is a relatively new engagement method, and it hasn’t been adopted by all companies. However, it could be a promising compromise. Check out our specific blog on fixed-term contracts to figure out if this is the right step for you.
Whatever the answer, we can help you to find your perfect fit with Defence industry in Australia.