The pursuit of happiness: Happy 4th of July from

4th of July

This afternoon I received an email from a job applicant who served in the U.S. Air Force letting us know that his 9 months of job hunting was now over thanks to

Anyone who has experienced unemployment can relate to the significance of this moment for this Airman and his family. For those of us who have the privilege to say Happy 4th of July we can appreciate the sacrifice and commitment that it takes for our service men and women to defend our unalienable rights.

As I reflect on the Declaration of Independence on the eve of July 4, 2014 I find a deeper understanding of ‘The pursuit of happiness.’ What I discovered, is the Pursuit of Happiness is not about self-satisfaction or stupefied pleasure, but rather a life lived to its full potential.

For the Airman we celebrate his professional skills being used to the fullest potential through employment. As a Country we honor the sacrifice and commitment this Airman has given so that we all have the privilege to say, “Happy 4th of July.”

Bottom Line: has made a commitment to help men and women in uniform find government contracting jobs and it makes this 4th meaningful to share in the joy of one of our applicants.



What’s in a Resume Headline?

We’ve seen some chatter on the Internet asking about what headline should be used in social media and resumes to improve an applicant’s chances in being noticed by companies and recruiters. The question posed on this topic is: should applicants list their current position, job status or promote the their core competencies?

The conventional wisdom we see in responses to this question advise that the headline should reflect core skills and personal brand, rather than a current job title.

Military Officer’s Association recently offered the following opinion on the subject:

“Career transition experts and recruiters in our network agree that a profile headline should reflect core skills and personal brand, rather than a current job title. Additionally, since it’s best to have a job when you’re looking for a job, headlines reflecting your current status in transition are not helpful.”

We’ve offered up some advice on resume headlines in the past, but wanted to add the following thoughts for consideration. If you are looking for a job, you should focus on making your headline the type of position you are seeking. But this headline must match experience and capabilities outlined in the rest of the resume. Recruiters and sites like that use automated search algorithms will search for terms within a resume that match their job requirements. For example, if you are a Federal Financial Systems Expert, use that description as your headline rather than something like Financial Analyst (a typical standard job title). You can put the Financial Analyst in the body of your experiential narrative description to further your chances of being considered for positions. Additionally, in this case, you should consider putting the names of the financial systems in which you are an expert in the narrative description, because the increased use of different terms to cover your area of expertise will improve the visibility your resume when being searched.

Bottom Line: Resume and social networking headlines should be used to identify your major area of expertise and the area where you are looking for a new job.

Self-Employed Doesn’t Mean Alone: Resources for Independents

Considering an independent career path? You may be surprised to know that you’re far from alone; 17.7 million Americans have already worked independently in their careers, contributing over $1 trillion to our economy in 2013 alone. Flexible schedules, control over your work, being your own boss and doing the work you love are all powerful draws to being an independent consultant.

But it’s difficult to start your own business… right?

Not necessarily. To help you out as you venture further down the path to self-employment, we’ve reached out to MBO Partners, a leading provider of management services for independent professionals to provide some information that we think you will find of value if you are thinking about being an independent consultant.

We recently hosting a webinar with MBO that outlined actionable tips you can use in your path to success, including contracts & SOWs, time tracking, taxation, invoicing, etc. You can view the webinar here.


Didn’t make the webinar? MBO has provided the information below on the services they provide independent consultants. We think its a great resource for you, our job seekers, as you learn to navigate the contracting world.

1. State of Independence in America research report: Every year, MBO Partners teams up with independent firm Emergent Research to take a pulse on America’s independents. In the report PDF, you’ll find information on how many independents work in America, their demographics, how they feel about independence and what the future trends indicate. The research has been cited in CNN, Forbes, Huffington Post and Harvard Business Review.

2. The Independent’s Guide: For a more nuts-and-bolts approach to independent consulting, the Independent’s Guide is a collection of how-to’s and tips for every stage of an independent career. Learn how to find your first clients, negotiate contracts, market your solo business and hire on new help. We are constantly updating this knowledge bank, so check in from time to time to see what’s new.

3. Bill Rate Calculator: Whether you’re just starting out or you’re an experienced consultant, creating and updating your bill rate can be confusing. We developed this handy tool to give you a more empirical approach to creating your bill rate; the BRC will ensure that you didn’t leave out any expenses or costs on your way to crafting the right rate for your solo business.

4. Webinars: Got an hour to take a more detailed look into a topic? Well, grab your popcorn and kick back, because MBO has hours of recorded expert webinars on topics ranging from business development to keeping a healthy work-life balance.

5. Meet the Independents: So, you’ve seen the stats and the data, but what do independent professionals actually look like? We have collected profiles of successful independents from across the country, including pictures and interviews in our interactive map. While you’re checking out the resources, you’re bound to come up with one or two questions about what this all means for you. To speak with an expert about your consulting questions, you can email MBO partners at We’ll have an expert address your concern quickly and accurately.

Bottom Line:

Hey, let’s face it – making a big career move isn’t an easy decision. The more you know, and the more resources you have, the more well-founded your decision will be, no matter what you choose. Just keep this in mind; the independent movement is rapidly becoming mainstream in America. You may be working for yourself, but you are most certainly not working alone. Knowing where to get help and answers to your questions takes some of the uncertainty out of the equation. Solving Important Challenges with Independent Contractors?

GSA Travel App, the government created website to help “solve important challenges” uses a competition style format to source ideas and products from the public. The website posts challenges from agencies looking for solutions, ideas, or IT apps and systems. A challenge that caught our eye last week in a Federal Times article was posted by the GSA – hosting a competition for the development of an app that would save government travelers money – with the prize for the winning app ringing in at only $35,000.

Because at our mission is to support independent contractors and help them navigate the world of Federal contracting, we felt we could not ignore the article and the fact that the prize award was well below industry standards.

The average salary for a mobile app developer is $94,000/year. This is a salary, not what a company or an independent contractor should be paid for the work performed, when factoring in taxes, insurance, and other overhead expenses.

Not sure what you should get paid? published a very helpful article entitled, “How Much Should IT Contractors Charge?” which can help you estimate what an independent contractor should be receiving for work performed.

While we’re a huge fan of public-private partnerships and bringing in industry talent to help gain fresh perspective into the government’s tech issues, the amount of money offered by this challenge and others posted at is just too low. (Especially when considering the normal valuation for a product like this would be hundreds of thousands of dollars if submitted as an RFP through traditional channels).

For the amount of time it would take to build this app, most app developers would not even consider it for that little in pay, and rightly so. So if the best in the field won’t take on the challenge – what is left of the the quality of the solution?

Bottom Line: is a great platform, in theory, but it should require that government agencies issuing challenges to provide a prize and payout that are commensurate with the work required up to the industry standard. Let’s bring innovation into the government but pay the developers what they should be making so we can have the best products for the government user.

Resume Boost: Spending more time with your resume

Federal Contracting Resume

Creating a resume on or any other site takes thought and attention to detail – and for good reason. One thing that we hear from our employers is that, while they were impressed with the quality of our database member’s resumes, some of the candidates they’re potentially interested in have incomplete resumes.

Employers want to see an applicant’s entire work, education and credential history.  Just completing the narrative for your current or immediate past won’t get you a job. In this current job environment there are more candidates than there are positions, and companies are not going to take the time to reach out to applicants that haven’t taken the time to post a complete resume on the website.

After completing the background information on your profile, you can cut and paste your work experience narrative into the form.  We would advise you to take the time and craft a narrative that describes not only what you did but what you accomplished, getting those experience blocks filled are critical.

Need some inspiration? The Federal Times Career Matters blog has some great ideas for resume language boosters, including some words on how job applications require your best efforts. You can also look at some of our past articles, including how best to word your resume.

Bottom Line:

If your resume on isn’t complete, you are not going to receive a favorable review or consideration by an employer.  Take the time to review your online resume and make sure it’s complete. There is a job out there for you! Make it happen by presenting yourself in the best light.

Login now to review your resume!

Hiring Our Heroes Job Fair – January 10

Hiring+our+HeroesWe’re proud to be attending the Hiring Our Heroes Job Fair on January 10th from 10am-1pm at the Washington D.C. Convention Center as part of the NBC4 Health and Fitness Expo. Finding contracting jobs for veterans is one of our largest goals with and the Hiring Our Heroes initiative is a great way to participate in the goal.

Job Seekers: Register for the event! It’s free, and there is a workshop before the job fair. We would love to see you there.

Employers: If yo have any immediate positions to fill, please contact us! We’d love to feature your job at the fair and get it in front of as many qualified veterans as possible.

The Words In Your Resume

For many, your New Years resolution may have to do with finding a new job. To help you check that item off your list in 2014, we decided to take a look at some of the basics – the words - in your resume.

The words you choose to use in your resume are important. They speak for you and are the only thing that a prospective employer has to evaluate you without your ability to speak on your behalf.

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LinkedIn recently posted the top 10 buzzwords that appear most often in LinkedIn profiles in 2013:

  1. Responsible
  2. Strategic
  3. Creative
  4. Effective
  5. Patient
  6. Expert
  7. Organizational
  8. Driven
  9. Innovative
  10. Analytical

We’ve highlighted some specific words that probably should be avoided in your Federal Contracting resume unless you are for example describing a job title like, “Creative Director”. Another word, organizational is okay to use a modifier as in, “created the organizational design…” but should not be used without a description.

While there is nothing wrong with using a number of these words, it’s more about what you do with them to describe your accomplishments within the description that is important. For example, “Responsible for the staffing of 125 positions within a 6-month period. Positions were filled in 5 months.”

Bottom Line: Take a look at your resume and match it up against this list. Make sure you have written a resume that is speaking for you by describing your accomplishments and breadth of experience.


The Importance of Networking in your job search

Networking is at the core of getting information, opportunities, and ultimately jobs in the government contracting environment.  While reading information about what’s happening and potential opportunities is important, it is equally important to get out to events to listen to experts and meet new contacts.

I recently attended the Fall 2013 RecruitDC Conference to expand our knowledge of trends in mobile recruiting and job boards.  In addition to participating in the events, I took the opportunity to meet new people and expand my network.

You can do the same thing by looking for the right events to attend. Some are free and others have nominal fees. A colleague of mine, who I met at a govcon event, has created a number of events that are worth checking out between now and the end of the year. They range from a couple of hours up to half a day. One event, on November 25th, is called “Gov-Art-ment Networking” which takes networking to a DC Gallery. Go to 
and look for any events that you find interesting and follow the provided link to register.

Gov-ART-ment Networking
Monday, NOV 25, 6pm – 8pm  @ AARON Gallery, DC
Govt, Govt contractors, Govt relations Networking event at an art gallery. All business professionals are welcome.
Ticket Required In Advance:

SDVO & Veterans in Govt Contracting
Thursday, DEC 5, 730am - 11am @ Clark Construction, MD
Panel discussion with experts on obtaining the Veteran Certification,
companies with SDVO success stories from the field.  Discussion, Q&A,
Ticket Required In Advance:

Govt Contractors Kennedy Center HOLIDAY Event
Monday, DEC 9, 5pm - 730pm @ The JF Kennedy Center, DC
Networking and holiday celebration for govt, govt contractors, govt
relations. All business professionals are welcome.
Ticket Required In Advance:

SBA 8a Small Businesses in Govt Contracting
Thursday, DEC 12, 730am - 11am @ Clark Construction, MD
Panel discussion with experts on obtaining the SBA 8a Certification,
companies with 8a success stories from the field.  Discussion, Q&A,
Ticket Required In Advance:

Joint Ventures, Teaming & Sub-Contracting in Govt 
Thursday, DEC 19 , 730am - 11am @ Clark Construction, MD
Panel discussion with experts on obtaining teaming agreements, Joint
Ventures & Sub-Contracting, companies with success stories from the field. Discussion, Q&A, Networking.
Ticket Required In Advance:


Bottom Line: Whether you choose any of these networking events or find ones through other avenues, its important to attend and expand your horizons. Networking is an important part of succeeding in the govcon environment.

Checklist for an Effective GovCon Vacancy Posting

One of the most difficult things a company has to deal with in the recruitment of new employees is the high volume of candidates applying for their positions, as many of the applicants will not be qualified. This is a concern we hear about a lot from our Employers using If they post a job, will their inbox be inundated with applicants they have to filter through?

While we make sure that problem won’t happen to you at (due to our targeted site viewership and highly skilled user base), to help maximize the number qualified candidates that apply for a position vacancy on our site or elsewhere, there are a couple of tips that we can share.

Be as specific as possible about the type of person you are looking for to fill the vacancy. This may sound like common sense, but often times Employers don’t take a step back and read their postings critically enough which leads to convoluted requirements for applicants. Don’t fill the announcement with information that the applicant doesn’t need to apply for the position. Short and simple wins every time.

Create a requirements section for the posting that will provide very specific information on the mandatory elements against which all applicants will be evaluated. Let applicants know that if they don’t have the required experience they won’t be considered. Tell applicants to address these requirements in their resume. If their resume is going to be forward to the government for work on a contract, the resume is going to have to address the requirements at some point, so make sure they do it on Day 1 to save everyone time.

GovCon Job Post Best Practices

If there is an educational requirement, specify if resumes will be accepted from applicants who don’t have the specific educational requirements. If there is a work experience replacement for education, provide the work experience replacement formula.


1. Bachelors Degree required or 4 years of general experience.

2. Masters Degree required or 4 years of general     experience and 2 years of experience in the field the job is located.

State any citizenship requirement up front in the vacancy posting.

Provide information on where the candidate will be expected to work. This will give applicants information on where they will have to commute, if that is an issue.

If there are no or limited benefits with the position, make this point very clear.

Bottom Line: Due to current job market environment, you are going to have applicants who aren’t qualified apply for your vacancies, but if you follow the tips listed above you can help fill the ranks of your applications with those job seekers who have the education and experience you need for the job.

Your Professional Image & Body Language During an Interview

Interview Body Language

Last week we were a speaker at the Military Officer’s Association of America (MOAA) Job Seminar, an event we always love attending. One of our fellow speakers at the event talked about power positioning during an interview and recommended a couple of techniques: sit in an open position, keep your hands on top of the table and don’t sit right across the interviewer (move your chair a bit off center).

While being so impressed with the quality and experience that ex-military members bring to the workforce, we were also struck with the importance of body language preparing for any kind of job change. Being conscious of your body language is as important as what you say and what is on your resume.

While there are mountains of techniques listed on the internet, with both narrative descriptions and videos, we thought we would share a few techniques that we have found useful based on hundreds of interviews we’ve conducted over the years:

Tip 1: Start the interview with a firm handshake. Don’t try to break their hand but make sure it’s a firm grip. No limp fish handshake. This is particularly important for women. Shake hands with everyone in the room who is interviewing.

Tip 2: Smile. Creating a pleasant demeanor goes a long way.

Tip 3: Lean into the interview. Don’t sit back in the chair in a casual sitting position. Be attentive and by leaning in you are showing interest and engagement.

Tip 4: Hold your head high. Dropping your head is a submissive posture and you want to show confidence by keeping your chin up.

Tip 5: Shake hands at the end of the interview. Follow the rules in Tip 1. This leaves them with a confident end of the interview.

Bottom Line: Do your research and find out about body language during interviews, but when it comes to the interview, be yourself. An applicant who is comfortable in how they present themselves is more likely to impress than an applicant trying to remember all the nuances of body language techniques.