For engineers, designers, and technicians interested in defence contracting, there are a number of ways to enter that particular field. One of the most popular and effective means of entrance is through the armed forces. Whether it is the United States Army or the Royal Air Force, military experience can be valuable for a potential defence contractor. As well, the structure and discipline of the armed forces can be valuable for companies recruiting contractors, who need quick solutions to defence issues vital to national security. The armed forces aren't for everyone and by no means do they guarantee entrance into the defence contracting field.
For those who have a strongly academic background and some experience with technical work, the use of job sites and university placement services can be invaluable. Job sites typically feature special sections for defence work, including contracting, which can help narrow down the search on broader sites like Monster or Career Builder. Perhaps the best route for the university graduate in the job search is the university placement services which are popping up all over European universities. These placement services build connections with laboratories, design firms, and defence industry leaders in the area in order to assist their alumni. However, the most overlooked tool for finding a defence contracting position is to use a recruiting agency. Many professionals may think that a general recruiter may not have the connections or skills to help out a potential defence contractor.
This is not the case, as the most experienced recruiters in the UK and Europe have connections with aerospace, defence, and other technically oriented companies that are looking to hire professional for defence contracts. In fact, the best recruiting agencies on the European continent often develop deep relationships with defence contracting firms as they offer reliable business and lucrative job placements. The biggest choice for a defence contracting professional in using a recruiting agency is whether to use a speciality firm or a general agency. Speciality defence recruiting firms have the inside track on a number of great defence jobs, though their services can be limited due to the specific nature of their recruiting.
General firms offer comprehensive services and assessments of each of their recruits, but they may not possess the same connections as speciality firms. In the end, a defence contracting professional needs to look at their long term goals, determine how much help they need before entering the workforce, and choose based on those factors.
Richard Taylor Edwards is the Managing Director of Talisman Executive, a specialist recruitment agency for construction careers and construction jobs in the UK and Europe.