By: Katt Silver on September 29th, 2023

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How to Resolve a GovCon Staffing Crisis


Congratulations!  You made it through a gruelling proposal process, and now you’ve been awarded an exciting government contract 

Sadly, there’s no time to stop and enjoy your success. The clock is ticking, and you need to have people onboarded, badged and ready to go on Day One, which may be as soon as fourteen days from now.  

Ideally, you’ll have a crack team ready to swing into action. But what if you don’t? What if you reach out to the professionals you had lined up, but they all say they’ve taken other offers? Or worse, you don’t hear back from them at all? 

This is a nightmare scenario, especially when the government contract requires that you provide employees with hard-to-find skills. Here’s how to get through it. 

What to do when you urgently need GovCon staff 

The first step is to get together with your HR team, recruiting experts, and the relevant project managers. This team will need to implement the following actions:  

Review contract terms 

The first priority is to understand your contractual position. What must you deliver, and when? Focus on these elements: 

  • Position requirements: Work with your HR team to understand the must-have skills required for each position. Define a detailed candidate profile for each role, with notes about which skills are must-have and which attributes are negotiable.   
  • Clearance requirements: Determine whether or not fully adjudicated clearances are immediately required, or if someone may start with an interim clearance granted. Work with your Facility Security Officer to determine when and how to coordinate the clearance verification and application processes

Align your hiring team 

Partner with your Talent Acquisition team to relay expectations for position requirements and the most urgent deadlines. Talent Acquisition are usually dealing with multiple requests from different project managers, so they need clear direction on where to focus their resources. 

It also helps to provide as much detail as possible about the contract. This allows recruiters to have in-depth conversations with candidates about what the role entails.  

Launch a multi-channel talent sourcing initiative 

Once you’re clear on requirements, it’s time to move quickly on talent sourcing. Don’t rely on a single channel for this. If you’re on a deadline, you need to explore every avenue, including:  

  • Job boards: Advertise the positions on job boards that specialise in GovCon recruiting 
  • External consultants: Recruitment Process Outsourcing consultants and staffing agencies can help you find candidates quickly.  
  • Referrals: Look to your professional network for referrals and ask your current employees to speak to their networks.  
  • Talent pipeline: Take a look at current applicants who are interviewing for other projects. 
  • Prior applicants: Search your Applicant Tracking System for prior applicants who may be suitable.   

Screen and select the right candidates 

The interview process needs to be well-organized so that you don’t waste time between meetings. Some other screening tips to bear in mind include:  

  • Clearance verification: Once the contract is awarded, whether it is completely new work or an incumbent capture, your facility security officer will have to initiate either the process of verifying and bringing on currently cleared individuals under your organization or beginning the personnel security background investigation for your soon to be new employees. Your FSO should have an idea of how many cleared employees will be needed, so they too can be adequately prepared for processing.
  • Compliance issues: Remember that former government officials or high-ranking officers may face some restrictions. Follow the rules outlined in Post Government Employment and Revolving Door restrictions  

Dowload your GovCon HR Compliance guide

Welcome and onboard your new team 

Although the clock is ticking, don’t skip the introductory stage of the new hire process. Make sure that everyone has an onboarding that includes:  

  • Personal welcome: This is an ideal time for new employees to meet senior leadership and discuss the company’s goals and values.  
  • Cultural integration: Give each employee a chance to sample your organizational culture and get a taste of life as part of your team.  
  • Q&A: Allow new hires a chance to ask basic questions about things like payment, benefits, and system access.

How to avoid a GovCon staffing crisis 

Naturally, it’s better not to be in this situation. Personnel plans are an important part of your response to an RFP, and it’s better if you can deliver what was originally promised.  

Here are some long-term actions you can take now to avoid a staffing crisis in the future:  

1. Involve Talent Acquisition in your Business Development process 

Communicate early and often with your HR and Talent Acquisition team during the contract submittal stages, so they know how to best prepare for the potential upcoming work.   

Related reading: How Talent Acquisition Can Help Create Winning GovCon Proposals

There may be proposal requirements to obtain Letters of Commitment from candidates named in key positions. Your talent acquisition team can help you obtain the necessary LOCs so that you may continue to focus on the proposal.  

2. Monitor candidates during the post-proposal phase 

Most staffing issues arise during that long wait after you submit your proposal. Even with firm LOCs, candidates might become unavailable before the award date, which may leave your Talent Acquisition team scrambling.  

To minimize this risk, your team should:  

  • Stay in touch with candidates: Arrange a regular update session with your candidates. This gives you a chance to keep them updated on your progress and to find out if there are any availability issues you should know about. 
  • Respond to changes: If there are potential staffing issues, take action as soon as possible. If you need to find replacements, it’s best to start planning now rather than waiting until the contract is awarded.  
  • Monitor developments in the talent market: Contracts end all the time, and those contractors may become available for employment. Keep an eye on these movements and watch out for potential backup candidates, should you need them.

Communication is the key. If your business development team, talent acquisition experts, and your preferred candidates are all in the loop, you’ll minimize the chances of a nasty surprise.  

3. Get help from GovCon recruitment experts 

GovCon recruitment is a difficult field. You’re working with a diverse range of professionals, all of whom have varying responsibilities.  

Bringing in a GovCon recruitment consultant offers a number of benefits, including:  

  • Access to a wider talent pool: GovCon experts have their own talent sourcing methods, which gives you access to even more candidates for critical roles.  
  • Ideas for an improved recruitment process: A third-party consultant can offer insight into industry best practices and help upskill your current team.  
  • Objective feedback on your current approach: An outsider will also be able to identify issues in your current approach. They’ll help you see where you’re missing out on finding the best available talent.  

Always have the GovCon talent you need

A consultant can help in a crisis—but we’re more when we’re involved from the start! The right GovCon consultant can help you build winning proposals and avoid ever having a major staffing crisis. 

Ready to talk to the experts? Book a call with Helios HR today and let's talk about your path to success in government contracting. 

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