By: Matt Walker on September 25th, 2023

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How Talent Acquisition Can Help Create Winning GovCon Proposals


When competing for a government contract, success can be a matter of fine margins. Every detail of your proposal needs to show that your firm is the right choice for this engagement.

Personnel plans are an important part of your proposal, and it's one of the most crucial evaluating factors for the requesting body. A strong staffing plan could tip the decision in your favor.

Fulfilling this personnel plan is a job for Talent Acquisition (TA). This team will be responsible for identifying, attracting, and closing key personnel. However, their involvement in the proposal process shouldn't stop there. When TA is used properly, this team can help deliver wins and secure the most exciting contracts for your business. 

How Talent Acquisition can help win government contracts

It can be challenging to get Talent Acquisition fully involved in the proposal process, especially when TA has to prioritize their team resources across multiple active contracts. 

To get the best out of TA, we would recommend three steps:

  1. Get the right TA leadership in place
  2. Ensure cooperation with the Business Development team
  3. Involve TA in the proposal process

Here are some tips on putting that into action.

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1. Get the right Talent Acquisition leadership in place

An outstanding TA director can increase your win ratio, but finding a great leader can be challenging. If you're looking for a new TA director, look for someone who understands all aspects of GovCon hiring, including:

  • Federal procurement processes and sales cycle: TA leaders should have a strong understanding of processes in government contracting, especially with regard to the steps before and after a solicitation is published, such as sources sought, RFI, RFP or RFQ, Q&A, and Selection Process.
  • Shipley proposal process:  TA leaders should understand the color team system used to manage business development processes. 
  • Contract types: They should know the nature of engagements such as IDIQ, BPA, and GWAC.
  • Contract billing: It's vital to understand billing protocols such as T&M, FFP, CP, and how they impact recruiting priorities.
  • Company services: TA must have a strong understanding of the type of work the organization does in order to proactively and consistently identify and attract people with the desired skill sets.
  • Past successes: If you're hiring a new TA director, it's important they understand how your organization has become who they are today. Where have they been successful, how have they won work in the past, and of what type, and what type of work would they like to do more of in the future?

TA directors also need all of the skills required in private-sector hiring, such as managing talent pipelines and sourcing candidates. But they will also need specific experience working in the government contracting sector. 

2. Develop relationships between Talent Acquisition and Business Development

Business Development and Talent Acquisition make a great partnership. When your TA director works directly with the BD team, it improves the odds of winning new work, while also helping TA build recruitment strategies that align with your business strategy.  

To make this relationship work, the TA leadership should play a routine part in development meetings. Part of their role should involve knowing what's happening with business development, especially:

  • BD Pipeline: TA should be aware of the current status of BD efforts, such as the number of current bids being tracked, types of work, size/value of bids, scope, etc
  • BD Goals: TA should also be aware of the main revenue goals, plus your long-term organizational strategy.

Due to this relationship and understanding, TA now better understands the direction of the organization and what kind of skill sets will be required in the future to deliver upon the potential work. This allows TA to proactively work on their own candidate pipeline, building relationships with PMs, hard-to-find SMEs, and other potential award-winning key personnel.

3. Involve TA in the proposal process

Talent acquisition can play an active role in proposals and post-proposal planning. Ask your TA leader to get involved in:

  • Staffing Plan: Government solicitors frequently request a staffing plan as part of the proposal. Staffing plans sometimes include contractual obligations such as commitment to put a certain percentage of cleared staff in place within a certain timeframe. TA will be responsible for meeting those conditions, so it makes sense to involve them in outlining the terms.
  • Labor Mix: Working with an SME, TA can help select the appropriate Labor Categories. This approach allows for realistic recruiting, execution, and delivery of the work with accurate pricing.
  • Recruitment metrics: Tracking and recording recruitment performance metrics on all projects. These metrics will strengthen your future proposals by showing that you've delivered on contracts of similar size and scope.
  • Pricing: TA can help identify any reductions or discounts that might impact the overall cost. Pricing is one of the key evaluating factors in contract allocation, so this may tip things in your favor.

After the proposal is released, the race is on to solidify key personnel. Ideally, the red team should work on LOCs (letters of commitment) and contingent offers. However, TAs should be involved in the process long before this point. Ideally, Talent Acquisition and Business Development will have an ongoing relationship with regular meetings, allowing both teams to work together to deliver success. 

Talent Acquisition is the key to GovCon success

Your response to an RFP might run to dozens of pages, with lots of fine details about the proposed engagement. But ultimately, it all comes down to a few simple details, such as your ability to deliver skilled people that can complete the work. 

A great talent acquisition strategy can help you find a cutting edge over the competition. Work with your TA leader to make talent part of your strategy. 

Need help from GovCon staffing experts? Helios HR has worked with contractors in the Greater D.C. area for over twenty years. Our team can help you build a talent strategy and win in a competitive marketplace. 

Book a call with Helios HR and let's talk about how we can help you win your next proposal. 

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