Government contracting, which is when companies produce goods or services under contract to the federal, state, and local government, is a big business — especially in the Washington D.C. area. UMGC alumnus Vernon Green, Jr. ’10, ’12, founder and CEO of government contractor GCubed, Inc., recently shared his insights on what it takes to be successful as an employee or entrepreneur.
“Success in government contracting has come from the strength of my networking and from choosing which contracts to bid on,” says Green. “Hiring for contracts, and all this stuff, had to do with the strength of my network.”
Bidding on contracts should be a strategic process where there is a preexisting relationship with an organization, or when you have unique knowledge. When hiring, it’s required that contractors attempt to hire people already in the job, but if they can’t match salary or skills then opportunities open to recruit new qualified candidates. After a contract is secured, keeping it requires constant communication with the client to ensure requirements are being met and that improvements are made as necessary. A successful contractor doesn’t wait until the end of the contract for a performance review, they do regular check-ins.
So, how do you land a job with a government contractor? First, it’s important to understand the government sets the parameters for a contractor’s requirements. The contracts dictate the education, certifications, and experience required, and the contractor can’t deviate from those requirements. In IT, certifications rule whereas education requirements can be occasionally waived with years of experience. “Get the certification, then work on your education while you’re in the job,” says Green.
Additionally, because many government contracts are with the defense industry, U.S. citizenship is required, and a security clearance is usually required, too. Also, because contractors typically need their staff able to work when a contract begins in two weeks to a month, they don’t have time to sponsor a security clearance, which can take up to two years if you’re eligible. To be eligible, you must be a U.S. citizen and you can’t have issues with serious debt, drug use, illegal downloads, or questionable international ties. Contractors will sometimes build a “bench” with interns or other entry-level talent; the contractor will sponsor the candidate’s clearance while building loyalty. Then when an opening on a contract becomes available, the contractor has someone from the “bench” to send out. For non-citizens interested in contracting, a civilian government agency like the IRS may be a good fit.
For entrepreneurs looking to begin contracting, your WHY must be strong enough to carry you through the challenges. Most states have a guide to help you get started, and be aware of available resources, many for free, because you shouldn’t have to pay. In addition to people who know and trust you through your network, women-owned and minority-owned businesses can differentiate a contractor. Additionally, there are certifications such as the ISO 9000, ISO 20,000, and CMS certifications that indicate levels of expertise. State and local opportunities have similar preferences for contractors but are smaller and can set you up for success in the future.
For more information on contracting, please watch the webinar Navigating Government Contracting on demand, brought to you by GCubed, Inc. Also keep in mind that UMGC’s Career Services is available to help you plan and achieve career success. Finally, visit Community Connect to connect with others who can speak with you about government contracting.
Vernon Green, Jr. is a successful government contractor, philanthropist, community activist, mentor, and former military Warrant Officer with 20+ years of experience in a vast range of IT specialty areas. Founder and CEO of GCubed, Inc. and founder and Chairman of G3 Community Services. He has his master’s degree in Cyber-Security and bachelor’s degree in Computer Information Technology from UMGC.