The rise of temporary and contract work has increased dramatically over the last few years and become a favourable employment strategy for organisations during the uncertainty of the pandemic.
But while the initial threat of COVID-19 has died down, the demand for contract work is continuing to rise – especially for employers who may have previously sought the job security of a permanent role. Why? Those working in contract roles can often find work quickly due to shorter timeframes, work according to their own schedule and gain new skills and experiences across multiple industries. Furthermore, as we head towards the Christmas and summer holidays and border restrictions start to ease, organisations across all industries are anticipating leave applications to skyrocket. During the strict lockdowns, many Australian states went through during the year, as well as an increased workload many experienced – especially within the built environment industry – many workers felt they couldn’t take time off and consequently have accrued a significant amount of annual leave as we finish 2021. Data released by market research company Roy Morgan in May showed eight million workers in paid employment now have 14.9 million days of annual leave due. This is an almost 16% increase from the beginning of 2020 prior to the pandemic outbreak (Dexter, R. 2021). However, experts believe the accrued leave will have grown even bigger since May because of both Sydney and Melbourne experiencing months of strict lockdowns. According to behavioural scientist Aaron McEwan from global research and advisory firm Gartner now that we can finally travel ‘there is a lot of people that are going to cash in their leave and take it'  (Sharples, 2021).
With so many employees looking to bank some of this leave over the summer break and 2022, organisations will need to seriously consider their resourcing, to ensure they can maintain productivity levels over the next few months and don’t become severely short-staffed. A key solution for organisations who are anticipating multiple staff to be on leave at the one time, or are experiencing a particularly busy period and require extra resources (e.g. the end of the financial year) is to hire contract and casual workers. This way they can alleviate the temporary strains on the remaining team members and ensure overall output isn’t impacted significantly.
Consequently, for those considering to move into contract work, there’s never been a better time to take the plunge. Below, we explore the benefits of contract work and provide tips to help secure your next contract role.
The Benefits of Contract Work
Diversify Your Skillset- First and foremost, contract roles provide you with the unique opportunity to diversify your skillset, by allowing you to work on different and varied projects within a number of different organisations, across a range of different industries. You’ll gain specific knowledge and skills from all the different experiences you have, which will ultimately make you a more attractive candidate for future employers.
Work-Life Balance- the beauty of contract work is that you have a considerable amount of control over what assignments or projects you accept and can therefore revolve them around your schedule. For example, if you need to take a part-time role while you’re involved in study or want to pick some extra-short term work while you save for a big financial commitment (like buying a house), you can look for contract work around this, allowing for greater flexibility and overall work-life balance.
Exposure to New Professional Experiences- by taking on and working on different projects, you have the opportunity to not only develop your skillset but meet and work with different people across a range of industries. This in turn, helps you to strengthen and diversify your professional network, which is not only invaluable when seeking future job opportunities (either contract or temporary) but can expose you to new experiences or opportunities you would have otherwise never been aware of.
Hourly rates- The majority of contract roles will offer hourly or daily rates to candidates. The advantage of this is that you’ll always be paid for the hours and days you work, as opposed to a yearly salary which is a fixed regular payment and doesn’t factor in any overtime you put in. For advice on current market rates for different roles and negotiating your hourly or daily rate, you can reach out to a recruiting consultancy- especially one that specialises in contract roles.
High Demand- as shown in the latest projections by global research and consulting firms, contract work is only going to increase as time goes on. Many organisations are looking to hire professionals for specific and short-term projects, and consequently, job seekers might come across more opportunities that cater to their skills, experience and interests if they consider contract rather than permanent roles.
Tips To Help Secure A Contract Role/Move Into The Contracting Space
1. Try Before You Buy
Contracting isn't for everyone, so before you take the plunge, assess the market. Reach out to a recruiter and your professional network to gauge what interest/demand there is for your skillset. You can also look online, to assess how much regular contract work you'd be able to secure. Being a contractor also means constantly looking out for gigs, at least in the beginning. Before applying for roles, you need to ask yourself the following questions: do you have the patience and persistence for long periods of job hunting? Can you support yourself at times of limited work? How flexible are you? Does your schedule or lifestyle allow you to work different/odd shifts?
2. Update & Format Your CV
Especially for shorter-term contract positions, organisations will require someone who matches all of the selection criteria listed, so they can easily hit the ground running on a particular project. Consequently, when applying for contract roles, it's important to ensure you firstly meet all the specified criteria in the job advertisement and that this is demonstrated in your resume - in your previous work experiences and your skillset. This will require you to make specific edits to the resume to ensure it aligns with the particular position you're going for.
3. Foster Your Professional Network
The cliche can often ring true; it's not what you know, it's who you know. Especially, in the early stages of looking for work the best way to be aware of new opportunities and potentially even secure a reference, is to reach out to your professional network. You never know what a former colleague or manager might be able to offer. Try and go along to as many networking events within your industry, to help build relationships and make new contacts, and also invest time in following these new contacts up through online networks like Linkedin.
The more people you know within your industry, the better chances you'll have of knowing about new opportunities - especially if you've let it known you're interested in a job change or pursuing contract work. Connecting with a recruiter who specialises in your industry is also a great first step when starting your job search, as they will already have established contacts within your desired industry and can help you find the best options to suit your skillset, interests and values.
If delving into the contract job market is something you’re seriously considering, but you’re at a loss at where to start OR you’re looking for specific advice about the current roles available, what rates to set or what organisations will provide the best career development options, you can reach out to the Design & Build team at:firstname.lastname@example.org
Our consultants specialise in recruiting contract and temporary roles within the built environment and professional space and are more than willing to help you make the successful transition from a permanent to a contract worker. Contact us at the below address for more information:
Ready to start your next role? Start the job search today!
 Dexter, R. (2021). What Are We All Going To Do With All That Annual Leave Accrued During COVID? Sydney Morning Herald. Retrieved from: https://www.smh.com.au/national/what-are-we-all-going-to-do-with-all-that-annual-leave-accrued-during-covid-20210707-p587pm.html
 Sharples, S. (2021). The Great Sickie: Record Levels Of Accrued Leave To Bite Businesses.News.Com. Retrieved from: https://www.news.com.au/finance/work/at-work/the-great-sickie-record-levels-of-accrued-leave-to-bite-businesses/news-story/5b9979b37742b71f4683221ff0279967