Automatic budget cuts due to sequestration have not only impacted federal employees, they’ve created a tough environment for federal contractors, big and small.
“It’s tough on small contractors we talk to where they’ve lost contracts,” said Ginger Groeber, founder of Exfederal.com, a website geared toward federal contractors. “Some of them have not been able to survive this. And so, for any business tied to contracting, unless you’re a large prime, it is tough going right now.”
Thanks to sequestration, Groeber told Federal Drive with Tom Temin and Emily Kopp she’s seen an increase in the number of federal employees who have lost their jobs and the number of job seekers.
“They range from people who used to be chiefs of staff in large federal agencies who are using this time to get out of the government, because they saw that their pay was being cut so drastically with the proposed furloughs, to contractors who have rolled off of contracts that have been terminated because of budget cuts and are now looking for jobs,” she said. “Many of them, this is the first time in a very long stretch that they’ve been without a job.”
To help smaller contractors find new employees, Exfederal.com is offering 50 percent off all job postings as part of a sequestration special. “We understand the smaller companies are hurting right now, and this is one way we can help them, being a small business owner myself,” Groeber said. “We know that there are a lot of good candidates out there looking for jobs, and by only charging $100 for a job posting, they can really see what additional resources they can bring to a contract with very little expense.”
With companies cutting jobs and more people entering the job market, competition has increased for those few jobs remaining. Many of the jobs currently in demand are in cybersecurity, IT and, to a smaller extent, health. “Those programs right now are ones that are really very strong,” Groeber said.
“We let them know that we’re very much in touch with what’s going on with government contracting,” Groeber said. “And we know that the federal government is looking at a much tighter review of qualification of individuals. They really want people who are very well qualified for their work. And so, the competition of getting your resumes in front of a government client is getting tighter and tighter.”
When companies provide resumes in response to a government bid, the government is looking at the specific experience that those candidates are bringing to that bid. “If the government contractor doesn’t have a really good team of well-qualified candidates, they aren’t going to win that contract,” Groeber said.
She advised job candidates to really pay attention to what’s on their resume.
“They have to make sure that they don’t just talk about what they did, but the benefits of what they did,” she said. “They talk about the depth and breadth of their experience.”
IT professionals, for example, need to be able to provide information about the certifications they have.
“Because higher education is not as important for an IT professional as certification on systems,” Groeber said, adding that the government is also looking for individuals with a PMP [Project Management Professional] certification.
“There are a lot of things that candidates can do as they look to their resume and really make sure that its fine-tuned and really tightly prepared for that job that they are seeking,” she said.
Groeber also recommended job seekers get that training they’ve been putting off. “It is not easy to get a high level government contracting job these days,” she said. “You really have to know who you’re competing against and have the tools to when those jobs.”
Even with all the necessary qualifications, job seekers may be looking four to six months for a position, Groeber said.
Tom Temin is the host of The Federal Drive, which airs from 6-8 a.m. on 1500 AM in the Washington, D.C. region and online everywhere. Tom has 30 years experience in journalism, mostly in technology markets. Before coming to Federal News Radio, he was a long-serving editor-in-chief of Government Computer News and Washington Technology magazines.