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Top 5 Reasons Running Your Own Projects at Smaller Contractor is a Good Career Move for Quantity Surveyors

There's no right or wrong answer to this question. However, if you're a Quantity Surveyor and you're not currently getting the opportunity to manage your own projects and would like to, then this may be something to think about.

With many of the big household names focussing on major large scale projects in the UK, junior level Quantity Surveyors can often find themselves working as part of a large commercial team rather than independently. For some, they can find themselves assisting on projects for 5+ years, rather than getting that invaluable experience of their own project!

For some Quantity Surveyors who have an urge to work independently and feel they'd gain more experience managing their own projects; working on specific packages on a large project can sometimes not be enough for them.

I talk to candidates with varying motivations and the most challenging part of my role is to deliver something that meets the brief we set out in our initial discussions. One of the more common motivations I hear from Quantity Surveyors when considering a career move is that they feel they need to get more responsibility on projects.

The first thing we'll discuss is whether this is a justifiable request given their skills and experience. The second would be whether this is a temporary issue with their current employer or a short terms issue whilst their current employer waits to put them on a new project or to promote them for example.

Where it is determined that the candidate has the skills and experience required to manage their own projects, we can begin to look at potentially suited companies that may be able to deliver this.

One option would be to potentially work for a slightly smaller contractor where you would get the opportunity to manage smaller value project(s) independently.

As the UK construction industry has grown in recent years, so has the number of smaller to medium sized  contractors. Often these companies are highly reputable outfits working on interesting projects. Quite often they have been set up by individuals who have done very well at a senior level for tier 1 contractors in fact. Therefore they likely follow the same or very similar systems and processes that many of the tier 1 contractors use.

I think it's key to define what I mean by 'smaller' as well. The phrase 'smaller contractor' can often have people thinking about the local building contractor doing extensions and loft conversions. That isn't what I'm referring to here. I'm simply referring to smaller than the Tier 1 contractors.

Therefore this could still include companies with turnovers in the hundreds of millions of Pounds, albeit they may be working on smaller value individual projects or have a division of the business that does this and will allow you to manage your own project(s).

Likewise, it could be a relatively small contractor with a turnover in the region of £5m - £20m, or anything in between.

Other than managing your own projects, there can often be other advantages of working for a smaller contractor, such as:

1. Pay

I can't guarantee that you will be paid more working for a smaller contractors. However, often smaller businesses have less strict salary bands and can be more flexible on salaries offered.

2. Varied Workload

You'll find that working for a smaller business and running your own projects will go hand in hand with a more varied workload.  This will likely include, making more strategic decisions.

3. Getting Noticed / Recognition

It's often easier to stand out when you're part of a smaller commercial team and managing your own projects compared to working as part of a large team and feeling you do not get any recognition.

5. Job Satisfaction

Feeling a bit more of an integral part of what's going on is something I hear from QS's when they have made the move from a large tier 1 contractor.



As the very first line of this article states, I don't believe there to be a universal right or wrong answer to this question. Only an answer for every individual Quantity Surveyor.

However, if this article does one thing, I hope it makes you act on your desires if you think you might be in this situation and may benefit from a change of employer. Even if it's a non committal conversation with a couple of companies to establish what opportunities are out there, it could open your eyes to a slightly different career path.


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Stuart Hacket
Senior Recruitment Consultant

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