Press Room
Culture & Careers Blog Post

Getting into Government Contracting

Government contracting, a simple phrase that can get confusing. So, let’s break down some key information to make the process of getting or having a job within contracting easier. The secrets to success are all here, but before you read them can you keep them a secret? We hope so.

Types of Government Contracting

There are two types of government contracts, prime and subcontracts. A prime contractor can be defined as a company that won the bid or rebid of the contract they submitted against others. In comparison, a subcontract is when a company different than the one who won works on the contract. When working under subcontracting, the prime approves the people going on the contract, the work being done, and the budgeting for the work. The main point of a subcontractor is to help find people that are most qualified for the positions and to fill them.

Getting on a Contract

To become part of a contract, there are some requirements that individuals need to meet.   

  • The first requirement you need to have is the skills for the position you want to apply for. Contractors are looking to fill positions with specific skills to meet the needs of the contract given to them by the government.   
  • The second requirement you may need to work on a contract is work experience within the task area you want a position in. This also may be a requirement to meet contract needs.   
  • The third requirement you may need a security clearance. Most positions in a contract require a government-issued security clearance to work with any classified information.

When breaking down how to get into contracting, it’s important to realize contractors may not have control. There’s a lot of checking, double-checking, and following procedures/ processes in place. For example, a security clearance takes time as the government processes the information and checks it. The employer has no control over the time frame or if you get a clearance. It’s up to the honest answers you give and the government’s workload.  

Adjusting to Government Contracting

Similarly, the first month of employment can be slower than you expect. There are forms to be filled out and accounts to be set up. Also, training to complete. As you finish up paperwork and start into your position, you will find unfamiliar acronyms and military ranks being used. Taking the time to learn the language and how individuals write will make your job easier.

Key Concept: Time and Order

You may have noticed that what we have discussed so far contains procedures and time frames. This is common for all government contracting, but not for government employees. As a government contractor or working under a contract, you have deadlines for tasks in order to meet the contract’s submission date. Also, there are specific ways to do tasks and specific people to give information to. Overall, it supports a much larger system to keep the contract on time for the government to continue the next set of cycles before handing over for use.  

While this may seem overwhelming, there is repetition within the contracting process making the work very similar each time a contract is won. If that isn’t appealing to you, contracting offers opportunities to change roles and contracts. You can learn more! Stemming from changing roles government contracting allows for growth, whereas the government has a structured path to move up. This can be appealing for individuals who want flexibility. It all depends on what you want your contracting career to look like.

The secret to getting into government contracting is patience and understanding. There is a reason behind everything and eventually, you will understand the more you work in it. Now that you know what to expect, what’s next for you?

Discover more secrets in our podcast and listen to next week’s career path podcast to understand if government contracting is for you!

Back to Insights