The Future of Executive Search in the Government Contracting Industry: Planning for the Unknown

As government contractors face the ever-changing global pandemic, they are having to learn what it means to be in this “new normal,” and how to find and retain top executive talent while planning for the unknown.

Government contractors who in the beginning of the pandemic shut down offices—including those of their government customers—quickly were able to pivot their operations in order to continue supporting their government customers in spite of the unknowns. They often looked at worst case scenarios of managing their talent if, for example, they were to lose contracts or even furlough members of their teams. At those early stages, few executives knew if they could even protect their own workers from COVID among the many uncertainties. Companies had to get creative, creating work shifts and even increasing the size of work spaces and cubicles to maintain social distancing.

Soon enough, remote working took over even in the many sensitive government jobs. Collaboration software, video conferencing, new laptops and mobile devices were all on the table, because essential government work can’t simply stop.  

Planning for the unknown, both in the early days of the pandemic and today, includes a number of trends that make identifying and hiring the top executives for government contractors a significant challenge. It requires a different approach and a recognition that the competition for the best executives is strong. The threat environment has never been higher as the barrier to entry for new government contractors continues to shrink. New players in the space can include commercial enterprises who may have had little interest in the government markets but now see it as a huge opportunity for growth.

Combine these new market entrants with the broad shortage of top executives, a pandemic-inspired exodus of talent from the D.C. region, and compensation demands on the rise, and the new normal starts to come into focus. Add in the Amazon effect on the D.C. market, siphoning off attractive GovCon candidates to the commercial world as well as the uncertainties of when and how we all return to work, and planning for the unknown requires an entire new approach.

As government contractors look towards the future, recognizing what will attract the best talent in a time of uncertainty means understanding what is important to top recruits and meeting their needs and expectations even though the future might look clouded and uncertain.

COVID-19’s impact on executive search will be felt far into the future. Freed from the perils of long commutes, these candidates may want a more flexible work environment that allows less time on the road and more with family while maintaining the productivity required for their positions.

For those who do want the office experience, having a schedule that accommodates those who want flexibility is key. Ensuring that in-person meetings are used for essential activities, such as collaboration, training, or brainstorming, and not merely for routine tasks, will be important.

So will have the right executive search partner who knows the GovCon market and can help anticipate the future and hep plan for the unknown. For nearly 30 years ago, global leaders in Aerospace & Defense and other Government-Driven markets have turned to Dinte for its unmatched industry expertise and track record identifying and evaluating the right talent to help organizations succeed and grow.