So you’ve decided you want to give contracting a go. You’ve considered the facts, and decided that the added flexibility, access to interesting technology and projects, and increased earning potential is a bit of you. But what now? How do you actually go about getting a contract role?
Keep reading to discover our top tips for getting a contract role in defence industry.
Top tip 1: Grow your network
Network is incredibly important in defence industry as it’s such a small and tightly knit industry. Building and maintaining a good reputation is key. You never know who in your network might be in a position to help you in the future, which is why it’s important to always avoid burning bridges.
Make sure you put yourself out there as much as possible. That means being active on social media platforms like LinkedIn as well as actively building networks with companies, managers, recruiters and employees as you move from role to role. The more people you know, the more likely you are to ensure a constant workflow.
Recruiters can be incredible sources of industry knowledge. A specialist defence industry recruiter is likely to know what projects are kicking off, which employer has just started a hiring spree and which employers to avoid. Not all employers hire contractors, so this type of insider knowledge will prove invaluable.
Examples of times Kinexus has widened a contractor’s network
Case study 1
Background: Kinexus was asked to source an NV1 cleared ILS professional in WA to undertake a security test management contract role for a defence industry client.
Action taken: The contractor that we provided to the client had been known to us for some time. Months earlier, this NV2 cleared candidate had directly approached Kinexus to inform us that they were planning a permanent move from Canberra to WA. Over time a Kinexus representative kept in contact with that contractor and as a result, was aware when they had made the move to WA.
When the client request came through, Kinexus was able to utilise this pre-existing relationship and quickly contact the contractor who confirmed that they were interested in the role in that location. This contractor began work November 2020 and completed their contract in June 2022. This contractor performed at a superior level and enjoyed the work.
Case study 2
Background: Kinexus had a close relationship with this ILS engineering contractor over several years and was an important part of their network. We had placed them in two previous contract roles within the preceding three years, each time with excellent feedback. This career contractor (a candidate who is solely interested in contract work) was out of work and actively looking for a new contract role.
Action taken: Kinexus actively assisted the contractor during the period between contracts and was able to secure them a 12-month contract with a Defence prime. The work undertaken on this contract included providing support for a major land systems acquisition project, product development and mentoring less experienced ILS practitioners. This contract was extended, and the contractor is enjoying the work.
Case study 3
Background: Kinexus maintains close links with security cleared candidates currently in uniform who are planning to transition out and enter the defence industry workforce. Due to our reputation in this market, Kinexus was contacted by a candidate who had heard of Kinexus’ experience within Defence projects. As this candidate was still in the ADF when they contacted Kinexus, we were an important source of knowledge about upcoming opportunities in defence industry.
Action taken: Kinexus was able to identify an opportunity for the candidate, a long-term systems engineering contract role, and supported them over six months throughout their transition out of RAAF and into the industry role.
Top tip 2: Hone your craft
When employers look to hire contractors in defence industry, it’s generally for a few specific reasons:
The work must be completed by a specific date
There is limited budget
The project is behind schedule and needs additional resources
Permanent staff need additional support
Due to this, employers generally seek contractors who are experienced in their fields. Contractors are expected to hit the ground running and only need limited support to get the job done. It’s important to be confident in your ability to match the skills and experience required, as well as the maturity to manage any challenges presented.
A candidate with varied experience, or someone perceived as a subject matter expert, is especially likely to succeed in contracting as their skills will be in hot demand.
Even in the Canberra market, where defence industry contracting is much more prevalent than in the rest of Australia, it’s important to create a reputation as a capable and independent worker in order to secure contract roles in the future.
Examples of times Kinexus has assisted experienced contractors
Case study 4
Background: A Kinexus representative was contacted by an electrical engineer who had previously worked on contract for Kinexus. He was ready to look for his next contract role and had asked Kinexus to assist.
Action taken: As this contractor possessed an in-demand skill set, Kinexus was able to introduce them to various clients who were looking for this skill set, and therefore provide them with various different contract opportunities. The contractor decided to take a contract with a Sydney-based naval client, supporting them remotely from WA where they lived. The process for both contractor and client was quick and efficient. The contractor is now two months into their 12-month contract and performing well.
Case study 5
Background: As a systems safety engineer with extensive experience in contractor roles, Kinexus was tracking this contractor’s career and made contact in the run up to their previous contract expiring.
Action taken: Kinexus successfully secured this Sydney-based contractor a six-month contract role supporting a major Defence prime in Nowra, NSW. The interview and placement process were managed quickly and efficiently, and the contractor started within five weeks of being presented to the client initially. This NV1 cleared contractor was responsible for working on a helicopter aircrew training system program. They excelled in this role.
Case study 6
Background: Kinexus had known this contractor for many years. An experienced engineer with a variety of skills, this contractor has worked in various contract roles for Kinexus including senior avionic systems engineer, certification engineer and systems safety engineer. Through our ongoing relationship, Kinexus was aware that this contractor was looking for contract work.
Action taken: Kinexus supported this contractor in getting a 12-month contract role with a Defence service provider. Throughout the contract period, Kinexus received excellent feedback from the client, who was very impressed. Kinexus’ client went on to request the contractor provide ongoing support to the project and to implement the safety audit system he developed on multiple other systems. The contract has been extended long-term.
So there you have it! Two sure-fire ways to secure contract roles in defence industry.
To find out what contract roles we are currently working on, take a look at our job board or give us a call on 02 9492 7500.