Time to read: 5 min
What’s in it for you: As a service firm your ability to rapidly find and hire people is your second most important capability (after writing winning proposals). In this post we explore the most common ways to find those people.
Is it worth reading: This is a critical capability and if you aren’t familiar with the process then yes
In our experience you will need to identify about six promising candidates for every hire you make. So here are the most common candidate sources we’ve seen:
- The people already doing the contract: Imagine your company has a contract to provide 10 IT help desk personnel to the Navy. The contract comes up for renewal, and you lose. One option is to keep the 10 employees, but unless you have another contract that you can immediately move them to it’s in your best interest to get the 10 off the books and the easiest place for them to go is to the company that won the contract.
So if you’ve won a contract look at who you beat and whether you can just hire their people. It sounds weird to do this, but it isnt’.
Of course before doing this talk to the government customer to make sure they like the people doing the work, and if they do this is a big win.
The people have institutional knowledge that will help you and the day they hit your payroll is the same day that you can start billing for them.
- Staffing people you already employ: As a small services firm you can't keep people around when you're not billing for them. But if one of your contracts is ending around the same time that a new contract is starting you may be able to lift and shift people.
- Leverage your network: The best candidates almost always come through people you already know and trust so as soon as you know that you need to hire, write up a job description and ideal candidate profile and start sending both to your network.
- Leverage networks of networks: Government contracting trade associations, LinkedIn groups, events, and happy hours are huge for a reason. As soon as you know that you need to hire, start sending job descriptions and candidate profiles to communities you are a part of and ask them to forward to their full membership. Also don't be afraid to post the job description and candidate profile on LinkedIn.
- Staffing website and tools: As a services company you will probably want to get an Indeed and Linkedin premium membership so that you can post job listings and find candidates quickly. In my experience the people you find this way will take a little more vetting but these sites have massive reach and can help you find people with rare credentials and experiences.
- Staffing firms: staffing service providers are everywhere. If you go to any GovCon happy hour you're sure to meet a couple. And they have a simple business model. You give them the job description and candidate profile and they find people for you. The catch is that they’re expensive. Typically, they charge 2 to 3 months of salary on the person they find. So for easy math if you’re looking for a person that you will pay $120,000/year you will pay the staffing service provider 2-3 months of that or $20-$30,000. And keep in mind that the government isn't going to pay you for this cost, which basically means that all the profit from that person goes to the staffing firm for the first year.
You may have set out to start an IT or data science or janitorial services firm but you are going to spend a lot of time on HR and staffing.
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