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By: Dawn Leckenby on October 27th, 2020

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How to Recruit and Hire Incumbent Workers for Your Federal Contracts

Talent Acquisition

So, your company has learned they have been down-selected to the shortlist and have made it to the finals for the proposal, but now what? How do you staff those key personnel positions that are critical to the success and continuity of the work? Where do you begin in terms of recruiting and assuring the client that the work will move from the incumbent to you seamlessly without delay or interruption of the service or product provided.

As a Senior Recruiting Consultant with Helios HR, I have been asked to help our clients recruit or rather, capture, incumbents when an impending award is on the horizon.

Here are some strategies that our GovCon recruiting team at Helios HR has identified to help capture those key players and set the foundation for a successful start of the contracted work.

3 Proven Strategies to Capture Incumbent Candidates for Your Government Contracts

1 – Know the Key Personnel

First, you need to identify who those individuals are. This will take research, time and investigative skills and in many instances, the Project Managers will be able to provide the most valuable insight. Ideally, they will even provide a list of names of folks that are critical to the contract.

This is where the Recruiter can really make the difference. By nature, most of us don’t like change. It is easier to stay on the current path then to change course.

One can ask, “Why change employers then?” Most of us define our career by the work we do, not the company we work for. This gives the Recruiter a definite advantage when going after incumbents.

Recently, I counseled a friend who was on-site at a government agency working for a large technology company. This tech company lost the work to a small GovCon in the DC area. The small business went after my friend who ultimately decided to join them. She loved working at the client and her current employer could not identify which project they would be moving her to. This left her with a sense of uncertainty and doubt. It was easier and more attractive to “re-badge” and stay on the project with the client she loved, doing the work she knows and enjoys.

2 - Know What You are Up Against with Regards to Culture & Benefits

Next, in order for the Recruiter to “sell” the incumbents, some up front leg work and research is necessary. Looking at the employee total rewards or benefit packages of your company and the incumbent’s can add to your arsenal.

  • Where do you have the advantage, 401K matching, vesting schedules, PTO accrual rates?
  • As a company where do you outperform, growth rate, size, stock performance?
  • Do you know the “soft” selling points?

This is where company culture can help persuade potential employees. In those cases where benefits and company performance just aren’t enough of a differentiator, look at the factors not written in black and white. Get an employee’s perspective on why they like working for you.

For example, chili cook-offs, weekly happy hours, birthday celebrations, football pools and morning coffee chats all go a long way in contributing to work culture. The Recruiter can use this in the sell and many times, these are the factors that are sub-consciously the most influential. It is a lot easier to leave a job when you feel like you aren’t just changing employers, but you’re joining a work “family”.

3 - Communicate Long-Term Growth and Development Opportunities

Finally, a defined career path is huge and often overlooked by Recruiters when selling a new role. People thrive in environments where they can grow and learn. If you can identify a career development plan, you will set the stage for long term growth and employee engagement.

Incumbent capture can be critical for a successful start of a contract and can go a long way to ensure a smooth transition and ease the clients concerns. As Recruiters, it is our job to lure the incumbents with benefits, career progression, work life balance, company performance and work culture. A win for the company can also be a win for the client and a win for the new employee.