Proposal season is upon us at DLS! This is can certainly be a confusing time of year to be a language instructor seeking work. Often described as many things (exciting, busy, chaotic, stressful, etc.), government contracting is a unique business that can be filled with both tremendous highs and nerve-wracking lows. Contracting terms become the language of trade during proposal season: best value, RFP, CLINs, LOI, small business set-aside, protest. Plus, there may not always seem to be a direct correlation between the quality of proposals submitted and contract award.
So what should you do? Today, we’re sharing tips for navigating proposal season from the perspective of the contracting company.
You receive an email about a potential opportunity. So, why are we contacting you if we haven’t won the contract yet? The truth is that staffing is a big part of any proposal (for some proposals, it can be a dealbreaker) so, we want to present our best candidates to show what we are capable of as a collective team. We do realize that “potential” jobs do nothing for your bottom line right now, but stick with us! Because if we do win that contract, we will not forget you!
What are the odds? Just how likely is it that we will win a given contract? Tough to tell, unfortunately, but we do try to be up-front about both the challenges we face and the advantages we bring to the table. So ask the question and you’ll get an honest answer.
The unfortunate reality of government contracting is that the USG is always looking for the biggest bang for their buck. Contractor salaries are not what they were 20 years ago in the wake of 9/11, and we are restricted by budgets and the modern realities of doing business. It is, however, important to share your salary requirements when asked, as sometimes this information truly does help drive budget decisions.
Be Prepared for Uncertainty
The timing of USG contract awards is the stuff of legends! It is a rare thing indeed for 1) a solicitation to be released on time and 2) for it to be awarded on time. Delays, postponements, and even cancellations are fairly common in this world, so be mentally prepared for this going in.
Make Yourself an Ideal Candidate
How can you make yourself a candidate that companies want on their team? Keep your resume updated. Also, don’t skimp on professional networking. Keep your LinkedIn profile active, find groups to join, and contribute! Even if networking isn’t your thing, it can be life-changing at moments you don’t see coming.
Build a Relationship with the Recruiter
Keep in touch with your recruiter. When you are contacted by a recruiter, give them a few minutes of your time. They will remember you if you have a good conversation, just as they will remember you if you have a not-so-pleasant conversation. Occasionally checking in with your recruiter will keep your name at the top of their mind.
In government contracting, proposals that get delayed or canceled are nobody’s fault. Scopes of Work that are suddenly changed and staffing plans that get overhauled at the last minute are all part and parcel of the industry. USG contracting is notoriously fickle and unpredictable. The good and bad news is you will get used to it after a while. But the certainly good news is that, once you are on a winning contract, the ride gets a whole lot smoother.
By Kate Marden