The Arguile Search Blog

What to do what when your legal career isn’t what you expected

For many, a law degree necessitates practising law. But for those whose law careers aren’t panning out as expected, there are many other doors that your degree will open up – commercial contract management, for example! An area of business that offers a solid foundation for a long-term career in enterprise, with ample opportunity for promotion and growth.

Law graduates are well-suited to CCM because of the complex nature of business arrangements. Your law knowledge will come in useful when dealing with legally binding contracts. However, your experience and skills will soon develop beyond those of a typical law graduate’s.

Huge skill development

There are lots of different parties involved in successful contract management and negotiation. If you enjoy people-facing roles, then you’ll thrive in CCM. Whether it’s negotiating with vendors or suppliers, or navigating internal stakeholders, your communication skills will be challenged every day.

Being able to build strong working relationships is a must-have for CCM. By developing this skill early-on in your career, you’ll stand out among other post-law candidates. Plus, it’ll help to futureproof your career. Coordinating with others and people management are two skills predicted to be in high demand in the Fourth Industrial Revolution.

You’ll also gain vital business experience in a short time frame. The scope of CCM is incredibly broad. Like in law, you will review, draft and negotiate contracts, but this is only part of the story. A large a part of the role is working with your operational teams to ensure you are living up to obligations and heading off issues before they become a problem… it’s commercial.

A vital role

CCM is a vital role in large organisations. Contracts are the backbone of all businesses, so your work will have a tangible and lasting impact from the day you start. If your organisation wants to get paid, sell something commercially and market itself globally, it will need your help to get contracts in place.

More important than law?

In fact, some argue that the CCM role is steadily becoming far more important than that of a lawyer. Indeed, in the day-to-day running of a business, CCM is business-critical. In an interview with the IACCM, a General Counsel and a VP of Legal both stated that contract management will be a future direction for many qualified lawyers.

How to get into CCM

For those attracted to a career in CCM, there are requirements beyond the knowledge gained during a law degree. A good understanding of finance and risk awareness is key. A grasp of project management concepts, market and business intelligence and good communication skills are also worth developing.

Putting in the effort to break into the CCM world will be worth it though, particularly in terms of your future demand, employability and transferable skills. It will also help to transform your mindset and experience into that of an Industry 4.0 leader.

Leadership potential

Through CCM, you’ll gain exposure to the most important functions of a business. It will help you become a rounded, commercially-savvy individual with skills across the company. That won’t just improve your promotion prospects in CCM itself, but also in many other directions. Maybe even the C-Suite will come calling, thanks to the skills you’ve developed as a commercial contracts manager.

Six traits of an effective interim

The skills of an effective interim should be implemented throughout the tenure in order to ensure maximum impact and to deliver results at a critical time for a business. As an interim leader there can be a significant amount expected from what the role entails, and it is vital to ensure that this position is filled by an experienced and focused candidate.

Bravery

There needs to be an understanding of the values and missions of the business, particularly as interim work usually only encompasses a short period of time.

Being a brave leader means taking a step into the unknown and making decisions before a plan has been fully established. By recognising this, interims can make key decisions, therefore propelling them forwards in the role. This will also allow interims to deliver results under pressure and work efficiently in time sensitive situations.

Equally, it is important to be prepared to be disliked or experience some hostility when entering the position. However, becoming part of the team and having the right attitude can set apart good interims with brave and successful ones.

Stakeholder management

Understanding and engaging with the team that interims work within is imperative to strong people management. There can be no reliance solely on being business efficient if an interim can’t approach and engage with the workforce too.

To manage stakeholders effectively, an interim leader should strive to create an honest and open culture which encourages consistent improvement in the team. This also goes a long way to recognising skills gaps that can be filled and enhanced – all integral to the role that interims must fill.

Without people management skills, interims will not be at the top of their game.

Communication

It may be the case the workforce who are receiving an interim leader may feel apprehensive about what this means for them. It is therefore imperative to be a visible and present senior figure, who is open to engaging with the team.

Communication also includes listening, not just talking. Interims can build trust, show support for the team and understand and share a common goal within the business in this way.

Having this trait holds the need to interpret communications into results for the business, with collaboration across multiple functions enhancing the offer they can give to the role.

A clear strategist

Being able to bring clarity to the role and demonstrate a clear strategic plan is key for an interim placement. A strategist will pinpoint places to improve and enhance the business, whilst bringing new ideas and challenges to the company.

The goal is to leave it in a better place than when they were appointed.

A successful interim and strategist shows a clear pathway to achieving results and how they will do this..

Ambition

Being ambitious in the role of an interim can set them aside from the rest of the competition for these positions.

An effective interim will have their own vision for their contribution to the role, but also too, a vision for others to seek and implement changes to bring out the best in each member of the team.

Importantly, combining personal ambition together with the team to create a collaborative goal will see results and instil motivation.

Prepared to make yourself redundant

Companies take on an interim for a reason, they have a problem that needs solving. The best interims focus on the most comprehensive and straight forward way of fixing the issue, regardless of the consequences for them personally. It might mean some contracts end earlier than they might have done, but you will always be the first person a client will think of when they next need an interim.

Permanent v interim – what’s best for you?

For a candidate working within the discipline of commercial contract management, there are a wide range of career pathways available. The marketplace is constantly changing in line with new innovations and as personal and professional goals change too, for those looking for a new challenge – what is their best route?

We recognise that we are operating within a candidate led market, where talent is in short supply and companies are all vying for the same handful of people. Both the interim and permanent markets are buoyant, so what is best for you?

Interim: The Benefits

Higher risk, higher reward

Working in an interim position is a highly pressurised discipline, driven by large businesses and conglomerates requiring immediate results and a strong leadership style to deliver this. These positions are usually offered on a short-term basis, perhaps up to 12 months in length, and require a dynamic skillset to meet the intense nature of the work.

Money, money, money

The chances are, for someone working as an interim, there will be more opportunities to earn more money! This will be particularly true for those who are highly-skilled (and in demand) in their discipline as businesses seek reliable, well-placed interims.

You’re in control

If you’re a candidate with other commitments, or a lifestyle that requires an element of flexibility, interim positions are a good option to consider. The nature of this work means that schedules are open for negotiation, and this can make for a pretty good work-life balance. The speed to hire in CCM is often quick for these roles too, allowing candidates to step into the discipline in a speedy fashion.

You are your brand

For an interim in CCM, the chance to boost your own career opportunities faces no limits. The fast-paced nature of short-term, interim work means that there is the opportunity to learn

a host of new skills, from project management and delivering crucial results to crisis management and negotiation, the chances to upskill and demonstrate your value are endless. Within this field is the opportunity to experiment with your career, CCM offers work in sectors such as defence, aerospace, engineering and facilities management, also meaning interims can have the chance to work on a wide-range of interesting and varied contracts.

Interim: The Drawbacks

Higher risk

The biggest downside of interim roles is that they are a risk. They do not have the security of a permanent position and have the tendency to be unpredictable because of this. It is completely dependent on the terms of contracts, but this type of position can mean that placements finish earlier than anticipated.

Changing relationships

Staying on a contract or with a company for a short period of time can be beneficial for a number of reasons, but this interim duration can mean that interim workers have less of an emotional investment in the company. Considering your status within the company may prove to be useful when exploring your next move.

Permanent: The Benefits

Secure

Taking up a permanent position is a pathway that sees candidates within CCM commit to a long-term contract, usually on a full-time basis – although there can be flexibility depending on contracts and assignments. These positions tend to be secure, following a steady pattern and hold long-term benefits for those looking to make their mark in CCM.

Building the right foundations

In a permanent role you are going to see far more investment in your development. You are an asset to your organisation and a good employer will put you though training, helping you to create a clear career path. However interested you are in the interim market it is important to develop your experience and skills first.

Growing your presence within the team

In a permanent role, candidates can build upon their presence within the team, in turn contributing to developing and delivering a strong and positive company culture. In turn, this can see candidates achieving a greater chance of job satisfaction and a will to stay with the company for a longer period of time.

Looking to the future

It’s time to think to the future. In a permanent role, there will be more opportunities to accelerate career progression and take moments to consider forward-thinking about where this placement can take you. There will also be more access to training and development programmes, whether this be internally or through external opportunities with the company.

Permanent: The Drawbacks

It’s a big ‘ol commitment

By taking a permanent role, although there is security and stability, there is the potential that candidates may miss out on other contract opportunities that come up at short notice and on short-term contracts. Not ideal if you’re tied in… Equally, movement in permanent roles tends to be vertically only, and moving into new sectors can be harder.

Smaller circles

In a permanent role, there is a high chance that candidates will have a smaller network to move within – especially if they have previously only worked in a specific discipline. This may also be a challenge for those at the beginning of their career in CCM, as networking is integral to ensuring you are well-known and understood within the discipline.

As the global market leader for recruitment in commercial and contract management, we are well placed to advise on future careers in CCM. Get in touch with us for some friendly, unbiased advice.

How valuable is current SC clearance to a defence and aerospace contractor?

Defence and aerospace is a great sector to be working in right now. Innovation is reaching every corner of the industry, creating a wealth of new opportunities. But of course, if you want to work in defence and aerospace, there’s one crucial thing you’ll need: security clearance.  

90 per cent of jobs in defence and aerospace require some form of security clearance (SC) and given the number of new roles in the sector and the changing nature of the work from permanent to contract basis, the truth is that there are just too few SC contractors to go around. But for the contractor who is security cleared, that creates a bounty of opportunities.  

What’s it worth? 

The obvious advantage for a contractor in a talent-scarce market is the ability to ask for a higher wage. In defence and aerospace it doesn’t matter if you’re the most skilled candidate that has ever existed unless you also have security clearance. So if you’ve got SC and you’re looking for your next opportunity, know your worth – and make sure whoever is recruiting you knows that too. Security cleared contractors are diamonds in the rough and the industry knows it. Make sure your recruiter does too.  

Use it or lose it 

While most businesses that require a permanent member of staff to have security clearance will sponsor that employee through the SC process, this is much less likely to happen with an interim hire. The process simply takes too long for it to be worthwhile for contract workers. And, even though clearance is usually granted for 10 years, if this isn’t transferred between businesses or if you are out of work for more than a year, chances are you will lose that clearance. 

So if you’ve got security clearance and you’re coming to the end of your current contract make sure you’re exploring relevant opportunities that require SC. Not only will you likely have a role with a higher rate per hour but you’ll keep hold of something that is in high demand. 

Build your network 

While security cleared jobs in defence and aerospace are plentiful, the nature of the roles can mean that they aren’t widely advertised. This is why it’s so vital to engage with the right people, so that you’re always aware of upcoming opportunities. It’s always important for contractors to have their next role in mind, but for those with security clearance this is even more essential.  

Of course we’d recommend building a relationship with the global market leader in commercial and contract management (that’s us by the way!) but there are other things you should be doing too. Join LinkedIn groups, network with others in the industry and keep up to date with upcoming projects.  

Being a security cleared contractor in defence and aerospace gives you a clear advantage over those without SC clearance. Keeping hold of your clearance and engaging with the right networks will allow you to pursue more opportunities with a higher earning potential.  

Arguile Search are the global market leaders in commercial and contract management. For the best and latest contract opportunities in defence and aerospace, get in touch 

The best graduate schemes for a career in commercial contract management

You’ve heard about Commercial and Contract Management and you want to get into this brilliantly rewarding but misunderstood profession. But how? The most direct route is to join a business with a Commercial and Contracts Graduate scheme. So where do you start?

As a recruitment firm specialising purely in CCM there are some schemes we rate highly and would always look out for, so here are 5 that stand out to us.

Rolls Royce

The engineering giant encourages graduates to take their place on one of their many sector focused schemes, from operations management through to commercial and engineering.

Of course, our interest is in the commercial programme, and the training is superb at Rolls Royce. If, we see that an individual has started their career at this company then we can be pretty confident their technical skills will be well rounded.

Through in-house training, modular learning and team-based project work, Rolls Royce seeks to provide opportunities for graduates to begin their career on the front foot and enhance the possibilities for longevity in their field of operation. In their commercial programme, key focus is placed on developing strategy, building relationships with senior executives and stakeholders and working with teams to understand the value and skill involved in the art of negotiation.

Some programmes here also offer the opportunity to become a member of the IACCM.

Rolls Royce also take pride in sponsoring the Female Undergraduate of the Year category in the TARGETjobs annual awards, and this year awarded the top spot to a mechanical engineering student who demonstrated her passion for promoting women in positions of leadership.

BAE Systems

BAE have multiple intakes of graduates for their programmes; in January, June and September. Their key messaging for graduates to ‘support you all the way, because your success will drive ours’ – demonstrates the value they put into developing their own talent.

Their graduate programme is far and away the largest in the industry and many of the current leaders in the CCM profession spent their formative years at BAE. The BAE scheme is arguably the most comprehensive in the industry.

Their commercial scheme offers the opportunity for candidates to take responsibility for work across a range of departments, engage with stakeholders, identify and offer solutions to risks and changes to project timelines and understand financial controls.

Babcock

As a global engineering services organisation, the team at Arguile recognises Babcock’s position in the marketplace as an established and profitable company. They have programmes in engineering and science, business management and project management, giving candidates the tools to kickstart their career.

They have made intensive investments in their graduate programmes, with locations country-wide, spanning as far and wide as Plymouth, Leicester and Bristol. This is positive for individuals looking to move into CCM as the opportunities are extensive and far-reaching.

Their schemes offer hundreds of places for potential candidates and we know that the competition to up-skill through programmes such as this is tough.

Raytheon

Graduates that take up a place on a scheme with Raytheon are joining one of the biggest commercial functions in the country. Their projects are purposeful and offer opportunities in a range of areas of technology.

A stand-out point for us is that in the UK, Raytheon also offer their graduates the opportunity to participate in a Leadership Development Programme. This is an essential skill in CCM, as strong and confident leaders are needed in the profession to demonstrate innovation and drive change.

As the third largest defence contractor in the United States, joining this programme will put you in good stead to accelerate your career and provide the skills that will be needed for the future of CCM.

Civica

You caught us out! We said we were taking a look at the best graduate schemes; and Civica’s offering isn’t strictly a graduate scheme. However, as an outsourcing and specialist system services company, Civica has one of the fastest growing commercial functions in the UK today.

They have an annual intake of apprentices and recognise that more traditional routes through to these functions, such as university and graduate scheme programmes aren’t for everyone. Our team have identified that if you are a candidate driven by a quick-pace of learning and the acceleration of your career, Civica has to be a leading option for you.

As an apprentice at Civica, you will shadow senior team members, be put through the IACCM training process and receive professional internal training.

Best of all, you’ll be paid for it too!

They only take on a handful of apprentices each year, it’s competitive and you’ll need good A-levels or equivalent but if you are in two minds about university and want to get into your first Commercial Management role then this has to be an option.

For new graduates, the option of completing a graduate scheme can offer on-going training and support, better career prospects and for some, global opportunities. Having said this, graduate schemes in the sectors CCM operates within see fierce competition, as demand for highly skilled workers increases.

If you are thinking of getting into the industry and want to know more about these graduate schemes, please get in touch with one of our consultants.