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career planning for contractors within the public sector.

The ways in which public sector careers have been viewed has changed in the last few years. Rather than a job for life, the public sector is now a dynamic employer that offers career development and the ability to transition across departments for employees and contractors.  

Whilst contractors may feel limited by their position, career development as a contractor is possible within the public service. Planning is an essential part of how to develop your career, ensuring you’re continuously headed in the right direction and making your dreams a reality.

opportunities within the public sector.

The growing diversity of career paths in the public sector workforce means that with effective planning you can find new opportunities. Federal and state government agencies will advance experienced contractors to higher levels within your grade band or to higher grades, including to management levels and are also looking to attract new contractors with their fresh perspectives and knowledge. Currently, Randstad Consultants are finding contractors with skills in data and digital, health, customer relations, citizen experience and user-centred design are in high demand. 

Once the goal might have been a permanent position for a contractor, but now a contractor can achieve career progression with the flexibility that comes with their independence. To do this, you must have a clear understanding and skills of government processes within the public service, and build a strong network of contacts via interagency cooperation. And also, make the most of lifelong learning so that you are skilled and able to take up new contracting opportunities that progress your career. 

pair life long learning to the competency framework.

Whilst for many contractors there will be no evaluation process or clear pathway for promotion, a basic starting point that all staff members should measure themselves against is the competency framework. It is a description of the capabilities a candidate must demonstrate to effectively perform in the role, and is used to assess employees from managing their performances, capability development and career planning to ensure they meet the needs of the organisation. 

Amelia O’Carrigan, Associate Director Public Sector at Randstad said, 

“Being a contractor can still mean you have a career and progress, but your development might come from moving role to role or department to department. Being really aware of your skills and experiences and then mapping those to the competency level needed for that next role and being able to effectively communicate those at interview are critical.”

This framework will also help you understand your strengths, current capability levels and what is required for you to move forward successfully in your career progression, forming the foundation of your productive career plan as a contractor. Remember though, whilst the organisation may not lay out a career path for you, match the framework to your lifelong learning practice to develop the right skills that will get you ahead. 

The government at federal and state levels think of roles as levels, that would have competencies and functional skills mapped to those levels. As a contractor is aware of these can help you map out your own skills and identify those you need more development in. Self-learning and all the potential resources you can pull on is key.

Make sure you lean on and share skills developed through previous experiences, such as volunteering work, part-time positions or studies. Here, you are building your skills inventory, essential in finding a position. 

understand the development opportunities that are on offer within your organisation.

An increasing number of departments will conduct formal assessments, constructive professional feedback, and self-assessments with contractors to identify your development needs. Yet again, it is up to you as a contractor to drive this conversation. Be proactive and ask what might be available to you. 

Once identified, ask if you can further your development activities with job rotation, shadowing colleagues and managers and undertaking different roles and projects that should take place for you to gain exposure to different environments and opportunities that may suit your needs in professional development. 

This framework will help you gain a better understanding of job expectations, assist in planning development, and will potentially help you find work that is meaningful and compatible with your goals. 

Talented contractors working in the public service and their ideas are highly sought after as state and federal governments seek to increase innovations and effectiveness. To learn about training ideas, resume writing and coaching, plus the latest job opportunities contact your Randstad Consultant.