Things I Learned in My Job Search

THINGS I LEARNED IN MY JOB SEARCH

A recent client shared his 9-month job search within the federal government contracting industry. The client provided some observations and lessons learned. If you are seeking employment in the federal contracting industry, remember these points.

Government contract numbers have been dramatically reduced in the last few years. Government contracting officers (GCOs) note some work will not be achieved, ‘wish-lists’ for upgraded equipment or services are on the back-burner, or services totally cut. Reduction of work impacts the market, vendors, and profit margins. This isn’t the same marketplace of 15-20 years ago during the first and second Gulf wars.

Government Contracting Industry Job Search Lessons Learned by Recent Job Seeker

Government Contracting Industry Job Search Lessons Learned by Recent Job Seeker

Cutbacks are compelling GCOs to ‘milk’ the situation in a buyer’s market. There are many reports of ‘after bid’ changes (mods). Vendors aren’t aware this is illegal and don’t report mods to the oversight agency for fear of losing a contract. The small contractors eat the losses, often thousands from future contract work, as well as development costs for the bid. This seems to be a consistent among Service Disabled Veteran Owned (SDVO) businesses (according to source).

Contractors are forced to rescind contingency-on-contract-award, offer letters because of a contract mod (or the vendor pushes the start date into the future). This forces seekers to look elsewhere for immediate employment.

In the past, contracts were bid in five-year increments, with five-year options. The government has found it practical to start rebidding contracts annually. It is rare to find a contract with additional option years now. Seekers in government contracting may find themselves ‘job-hopping’ when they move between companies, following a contract, or suddenly scrambling for a new job.

Government contracting officers are required to find the best ROI for investment and award the contract to the lowest bidder with the highest value. They should accept a middle-bid and aim for a company providing ‘added value’ to the contract deliverables. Instead, GCOs award the ‘lowest priced, technically acceptable’ (LPTA) bid. Larger companies (able to sustain financial losses) underbid contracts to get in the door (to seek added contracts). This leaves smaller companies unable to compete.

IMPACT ON JOB SEARCHES

Bottom line is – this has impacted competitive market salaries for job seekers’ experience. If a seeker had a salary between $90K-$120K years ago, they may only find jobs in the $45-60K salary range. Economics, new contracting norms, and current contracting mods practices have forced workers to take 25-65% cuts in salaries.

Seekers tell the truth about past salaries. Tell recruiters, “I am willing to negotiate a reasonable salary.” If a seeker was making $180K in a war zone, they may only be able to make $80K here in the states; so be reasonable.

Seekers can also consider looking in a similar industry. If past experience is in logistics for military materiel, then look in the maritime or inter-modal transportation and shipping industry. Mature seekers need to consider salary concessions for an entry-level position to get into a new industry. The employer doesn’t care about 20 years of experience if they can pay another candidate $20K less with the minimum qualifications.

SALARY CONSIDERATIONS

There is a federal statute against age bias, but mature seekers should their years of experience are competing with ‘just as qualified’ freshly transitioning veterans. When considering salary, ask – are there other qualified seekers willing to take less? If the answer is yes, then focus on what value added you can provide and is the value added worth the salary price to employers.

When submitting resumes, ensure military-ese is transparent. Show capabilities with measurable achievements using metrics (performed XYZ, achieved ABC, resulting in increase of $XXX in revenue or XXX reduced man-hours).

It is always easier to find a job – especially within your industry – if you already have a job. If you reach the point that you are desperate in finding the right job with the right salary – take what you can get ‘now.’ Then commit to working your job search like a part-time job after your regular job. With luck, the federal government contracting employment market will open up as the political climate changes. Keep plugging away, don’t let yourself get sucked into the wrong direction because you are reaching the end of your rope.

 

Dawn Boyer, Ph.D., owner of D. Boyer Consulting – provides resume writing, social media management and training, business development, human resources consulting, and print-on-demand author coaching and consulting. Reach her at: Dawn.Boyer@DBoyerConsulting.com or http://dboyerconsulting.com.

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Things I Learned in My Job Search

THINGS I LEARNED IN MY JOB SEARCH

A recent client shared his 9-month job search within the federal government contracting industry. The client provided some observations and lessons learned. If you are seeking employment in the federal contracting industry, remember these points.

Government contract numbers have been dramatically reduced in the last few years. Government contracting officers (GCOs) note some work will not be achieved, ‘wish-lists’ for upgraded equipment or services are on the back-burner, or services totally cut. Reduction of work impacts the market, vendors, and profit margins. This isn’t the same marketplace of 15-20 years ago during the first and second Gulf wars.

Government Contracting Industry Job Search Lessons Learned by Recent Job Seeker

Government Contracting Industry Job Search Lessons Learned by Recent Job Seeker

Cutbacks are compelling GCOs to ‘milk’ the situation in a buyer’s market. There are many reports of ‘after bid’ changes (mods). Vendors aren’t aware this is illegal and don’t report mods to the oversight agency for fear of losing a contract. The small contractors eat the losses, often thousands from future contract work, as well as development costs for the bid. This seems to be a consistent among Service Disabled Veteran Owned (SDVO) businesses (according to source).

Contractors are forced to rescind contingency-on-contract-award, offer letters because of a contract mod (or the vendor pushes the start date into the future). This forces seekers to look elsewhere for immediate employment.

In the past, contracts were bid in five-year increments, with five-year options. The government has found it practical to start rebidding contracts annually. It is rare to find a contract with additional option years now. Seekers in government contracting may find themselves ‘job-hopping’ when they move between companies, following a contract, or suddenly scrambling for a new job.

Government contracting officers are required to find the best ROI for investment and award the contract to the lowest bidder with the highest value. They should accept a middle-bid and aim for a company providing ‘added value’ to the contract deliverables. Instead, GCOs award the ‘lowest priced, technically acceptable’ (LPTA) bid. Larger companies (able to sustain financial losses) underbid contracts to get in the door (to seek added contracts). This leaves smaller companies unable to compete.

IMPACT ON JOB SEARCHES

Bottom line is – this has impacted competitive market salaries for job seekers’ experience. If a seeker had a salary between $90K-$120K years ago, they may only find jobs in the $45-60K salary range. Economics, new contracting norms, and current contracting mods practices have forced workers to take 25-65% cuts in salaries.

Seekers tell the truth about past salaries. Tell recruiters, “I am willing to negotiate a reasonable salary.” If a seeker was making $180K in a war zone, they may only be able to make $80K here in the states; so be reasonable.

Seekers can also consider looking in a similar industry. If past experience is in logistics for military materiel, then look in the maritime or inter-modal transportation and shipping industry. Mature seekers need to consider salary concessions for an entry-level position to get into a new industry. The employer doesn’t care about 20 years of experience if they can pay another candidate $20K less with the minimum qualifications.

SALARY CONSIDERATIONS

There is a federal statute against age bias, but mature seekers should their years of experience are competing with ‘just as qualified’ freshly transitioning veterans. When considering salary, ask – are there other qualified seekers willing to take less? If the answer is yes, then focus on what value added you can provide and is the value added worth the salary price to employers.

When submitting resumes, ensure military-ese is transparent. Show capabilities with measurable achievements using metrics (performed XYZ, achieved ABC, resulting in increase of $XXX in revenue or XXX reduced man-hours).

It is always easier to find a job – especially within your industry – if you already have a job. If you reach the point that you are desperate in finding the right job with the right salary – take what you can get ‘now.’ Then commit to working your job search like a part-time job after your regular job. With luck, the federal government contracting employment market will open up as the political climate changes. Keep plugging away, don’t let yourself get sucked into the wrong direction because you are reaching the end of your rope.

 

Dawn Boyer, Ph.D., owner of D. Boyer Consulting – provides resume writing, social media management and training, business development, human resources consulting, and print-on-demand author coaching and consulting. Reach her at: Dawn.Boyer@DBoyerConsulting.com or http://dboyerconsulting.com.

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Follow my podcasts

Available on iTunes and Podomatic:

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