When it comes to the Defence Industry, the rate at which firms hire contractors is increasing, it's an excellent time to enter the contracting jobs community, but there are understandable reservations about becoming the workforce's nomads - although wealthier nomads.
Here are some of the most frequently expressed fears about entering the contractor industry — and why they are not nearly as bad as you might believe:
FEAR 1. A BAD NETWORK OF WORKPLACE RELATIONSHIPS
If you are the type of person who enjoys socialising with colleagues after work, you may be concerned that by working in a temporary capacity and possibly changing workplaces frequently, you would miss out on the relationships made in a permanent position.
While it is true that you may relocate, the benefits of having such a diverse network and knowing so many people in so many places outweigh the inconvenience of not participating in the annual Secret Santa in the same office.
With that being said, by developing relationships in the early stages of a new contract, it is very possible to forge lasting acquaintances and even friendships, meaning that contracting is not always a solitary social scene.
FEAR 2. FINANCIAL CONTROL
The million-pound conundrum. Literally.
It is a well-known fact that your hourly rate is often 25% higher than that of a permanent employee to account for annual/sick leave, etc. While that is an attractive dangling carrot, this might be terrifying. Particularly if you struggle with budgeting and are concerned about the gap between contracts, or if you have medical concerns and anticipate needing time off.
Nonetheless, the option to take leave whenever you choose and not be hampered by time constraints is an enticing enough perk for many to contract - not to mention the significantly higher pay. You can continue to work 9-5, five days a week, but you will earn more money in addition to the additional benefits of flexibility. If you are organised, contracting can work for you.
FEAR 3. IMPOSSIBILITY TO PROCEED OR PROGRESS
"How am I ever going to get promoted if I'm continuously starting over?"
"I will never have the opportunity to upgrade my skills while contracting, as I will always be a temporary employee."
Contracting provides you with a greater opportunity to improve your skills than ever before by exposing you to a range of diverse environments, activities, and people. Not only may you take time off whenever it's convenient to pursue education, but you also gain a unique set of abilities by working in a variety of settings - and it's these valuable experiences that help you advance your rate and position.
Additionally, you cannot become trapped in a tight promotion system, waiting your time to advance through the ranks. You develop (and become more expensive) in sync with the evolution of your resume, conveying to employers the (right) impression of seniority and experience.
While job titles and promotions differ by company, a good CV with a range of relevant experiences, various credentials and abilities, and a mile-long list of references will always impress a hiring manager.
FEAR 4. JOB SECURITY
This is probably the most significant worry that prevents people from contracting. As humans, we are inherently risk averse and resistant to change, thus contracting and the potential for instability goes against our very nature. And the anxiety is not entirely unwarranted — there is no guarantee of a new contract immediately after the conclusion of another.
However, even for permanent positions, job security is a fallacy. Nobody is safe in today's market, which is more dynamic and reactive than ever before — dramatic, but real. It is equally straightforward for a permanent employee to be made redundant, and given that the majority of work in the Defence Industry is project-based, this occurs more frequently than one might believe. Thus, while the security anxiety is somewhat justified, it is not justified to the extent that it is permanent. Indeed, as Benjamin Franklin put it, "there is nothing certain in this world except death and taxes." Therefore, why not contract?
At Jonathan Lee Recruitment, our team of Defence Contractor recruitment specialists are here to guide you through the processes and nuances of the world of contractor working, so please feel free to contact your local office for an initial discussion.