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By: Richa Srivastava on October 23rd, 2020

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Recruiting for Federal Proposals: Best Strategies to Help You Win

Talent Acquisition

Full-cycle recruiting can be tricky and time-consuming process, and it can be difficult to find the right talent for the right job with the candidate market in the Greater Washington, DC region. In our federal contracting hub here in the DC area, businesses are often required to recruit for a position that doesn’t even exist. Now, that is a true challenge and often why our clients will bring us in to help!

Is this something your GovCon is struggling with? As a Contract Recruiter, we craft an impeccable strategy to attract and engage talent for jobs that are not on the market yet for our government contracting clients. 

The first step in our proposal recruiting approach is to ensure we have built strong relationships with the Program and Project Managers who are working closely with the Business Development and Capture teams. It is important that we understand:

  • The contract and are we the sub or prime contractor?
  • What key personnel is needed?
  • What are the critical timelines for contingent offers?
  • Have we benchmarked the salaries?

You want to be price competitive to win the work, but it is also important that you benchmark competitive salaries for key roles that are hard to fill, such as engineers for instance. We frequently hear federal contractors struggling to hire good people for their roles. Lowest price, technically acceptable (LPTA) contracts make it hard to find quality talent willing to accept an offer because the salaries were bid too low. It is a balancing act to win the work and find good people.

I cannot emphasize enough how critical it is to ensure communication and information is free flowing between the two functions. There is no reason to create a fire drill two weeks before a proposal is due when you do not have to. Bring us (or your in-house recruiters) in from the beginning to plan accordingly and make this a true team effort.

Ok, now onto more tips for proposal recruiting…

Best 5 Strategies for Government Contractors to Win with Proposal Recruiting

1) Compare market competitors for strategic intel

Strategic recruiters can bring intel to your business that can be especially helpful to contracts team by understanding what competitors are offering in terms of salary and benefits.

Recruiters should use their research to craft a compelling employer value proposition and talking points on how your company is leading in industry and examples of past proposal wins and successes to name a few. Because who does not want to work for the best company.

2) Create a stellar job description and ad

Next, the job advertisement and job description are often a candidate’s first impression of your company therefore, it needs to be attractive and appealing. Do not just copy and paste the responsibilities from the RFP into your job description. Incorporate a brief overview of the project and how the role will contribute to the overall mission. Make sure the job description also includes information about your company culture, mission, and values.

As you are writing the job ad, it is important to consider whether this position is fully funded or in contract phase. If it is in contract phase, be sure to include a disclaimer in the job ad so that candidates understand that it would be a contingent offer upon the contract award. Lastly, you can even get creative and add a video with the Project Manager sharing the vision of the project. The key is to get people excited from the beginning!

3) Communicate the project vision, mission, and their impact

Continuing from my suggestion of a video from the PM, the Contract Recruiter can also emphasize the project vision as a selling point. In the government contracting space, employees can get involved in mission-critical work that is fulfilling. Communicate the vision of the project, your client’s mission, and how each team member will have important impact on the success. Do not just talk about the big picture, get granular and share minute details so that the candidates can connect the dots. Be honest and share any potential road blocks the project manager foresees so they understand you are authentic.

4) Sell your culture and employer brand

Regardless of industry, one of the most frequently asked question by candidates is, “what does the company culture look like”? The biggest asset an organization can have is to create and sustain a culture that is valued by everyone and once that is established, the recruiters can utilize it to attract the target audience.

Recruiters can use engaging stories to share the core values of the organization and reveal their personal experiences working with the Project Managers and share their management style. Make sure you share information which makes your organization unique for example, your employer value proposition we crafted in the beginning with your key differentiators, market position, involvement in community service, benefits and total rewards like work-life balance, efforts towards diversity to name a few.

5) Finally, the follow-through

Once candidates have signed contingent offer letters, you must be strategic about keeping them committed to the job as you await the contract award. It is very common for candidates to accept a contingent offer and continue to search for employment. Therefore, to minimize that risk, we recommend reaching out to the candidate(s) on a weekly basis, alternating between the manager and recruiter to keep them actively engaged, excited, and connected. You could also invite them to (virtual) happy hours, coffee, or any other team engagement events to make them feel connected and part of the team.

After you have won the work, it is critical for managers to continue the frequent check-ins with employees on client sites. This is critical because the employees can easily lose the connection to their employer as they get immersed in the client’s culture. Be intentional with your leadership and engagement strategies to help employees feel connected to your culture, this will help strengthen your long-term retention and success.

Try these tips for success if your organization is facing difficulties in attracting right talent during proposal recruiting or contact Helios HR’s Government Contracting practice to help guide you in this process.