How to Hire Cleared IT Professionals for your Next Government Contract
Hiring in the IT field is more difficult than ever right now. In the private sector, around 59% of employers say that their businesses are suffering because they don't have access to the digital skills they require.
In the world of Government Contracting, things get even tougher—especially if you're working on a sensitive project that requires clearance. Building a team of cleared IT professionals is a challenge, and it requires a clear-eyed strategy.
Why you need a recruitment strategy for cleared IT professionals
When you work with the Department of Defense—or another high-security branch of government—you need a plan in place to ensure that you always have access to the talent you require. Successful contractors always have a recruitment strategy at the core of their operation, and there are several reasons for this:
- Clearance is a slow process: Depending on the level of clearance required, you could be looking at upwards of 18 months to get an employee badged. That's not practical for most contracts, so you need a plan to ensure you have a pool of candidates with active security clearance.
- You need to put forward names for your proposal: At the proposal stage, you'll generally need to provide details of the key personnel with whom you intend to staff the project. Note: You cannot submit candidates who do not have an active security clearance for positions that require an active clearance. They must already be cleared.
- The pool of cleared IT professionals is limited: The pool of cleared IT professionals is limited: It's important to build and maintain relationships with quality cleared professionals in your core space. Doing so should be a part of your comprehensive recruitment strategy and will produce additional benefits such as referrals and biz intel. The right recruitment strategy will help you to build and maintain relationships with these professionals.
- Contracts can change suddenly: You might find that you need to locate a cleared IT professional at short notice—for example, if a member of your current team quits. There might also be an opportunity to organically grow your current contract, which will require you to add some new faces.
Hiring on a just-in-time basis may not be practical for a government contract that requires cleared professionals. Instead, you'll need an ongoing recruitment strategy that delivers a reliable pipeline of talent.
7 ways to improve your recruitment strategy for cleared IT professionals
Successful recruitment depends on one thing: communication. Your business development and operations teams need to talk to recruitment managers, your recruiters must speak to candidates, and everyone has to stay in touch with the government client.
Here are some tips to help fine-tune your strategy
1. Get the talent acquisition manager involved in the bid/no-bid decision
To give your company the best chance of winning contracts, make sure that your recruitment team is involved in the bidding process. Recruitment managers can give you a realistic picture of the talent that you can provide, and the resources necessary to be successful. This will inform whether you should proceed with a bid or wait for a more suitable opportunity.
2. Flesh out job roles, including the where and what
Proposing the right people can make all the difference to your bid's success. You'll need to know exactly what kind of skills and technical experience is required for each role. The nature of each candidate's experience might also impact your bid. For example, you might have a group of cleared IT professionals with Air Force experience, but will that help you win a contract with the Navy?
In addition to proposing the key personnel at the time of proposal submission, it is also important to begin identifying and attracting talent for all the other non-key personnel. These additional staff will need to be in place no later than two weeks after contract award in most situations.
3. Make sure your recruiters understand the role
Cleared IT professionals often have their pick of contracts, which means that you'll have to talk up the benefits of your role. Your recruiters must be empowered to have those conversations, so make sure that they understand the role in detail before they start making calls. This includes knowing what agency or department this work supports, whether it's existing work or upcoming (contingent upon contract award), and the length of the contract.
4. Treasure relationships with trusted IT pros
The limited pool of cleared IT professionals means that you may see the same candidates time and again. It's important to maintain good relationships with them so that you have a group to draw from when you need people.
5. Be aware of what's happening elsewhere
The best time to approach a cleared IT professional is when they're finishing their current contract and looking for a new position. Pay attention to which contracts are currently active and who is about to become available—you might be able to hire groups of cleared IT professionals at once if you get in quickly when a contract ends.
6. Audit your recruitment process
There's not much room for error in this type of recruitment, so you have to get things right. Assess your recruitment process from a candidate's point of view, and ask if you're offering the best possible hiring experience.
7. Leverage recruitment tools
Dedicated recruitment sites like ClearedJobs.net and ClearanceJobs.com can help you find suitable staff for your contract. You can also leverage professional networking sites like LinkedIn, although contractors generally don't list their clearance status on their profile, so you may have to ask.
Need help recruiting cleared IT professionals?
Helios HR has been helping companies in the Greater D.C. area for over twenty years. If you’d like some guidance with your HR and recruitment, book a no-obligation consultation call with Helios HR today.