- ExecutiveBiz spoke to senior leaders at some of government contracting's most powerful firms to find out whom they turn to when they need an executive position filled, and compiled the 10 recruiters you need to know.
To get a sense of their positions on government contracting, we asked the recruiters for their take on the current state of the industry and where they see it going in the future.
- What is your take on the current state of the government-contracting field?
“We notice that our clients retain us to handle searches that reflect specific programs they believe will be funded by the federal government. For instance, this year we have handled many assignments focused on intelligence, DHS, law enforcement, cybersecurity and border. It is clear that homeland security and health are the areas the government must spend money. We also see a very strong shift from products to services. This is very challenging for the product companies and we see the professional services companies doing very well. If you want to know where the federal government will be spending money, just ask a search firm what type of executives they are looking for. The other major trend is that ‘small is beautiful.’ This is a terrific climate for small business to include 8a, hub zone, veteran and disabled veteran-owned companies. Of course, women-led business are in great demand as well. We are hearing that up to 40 percent of all subs used by the integrators must be small business-under $50 million. What an amazing venue for innovation and creating wealth.”
Do you have any predictions for the future of the business?
“There will always be a demand for security, both physical and cyber. We are seeing a great deal of investment in wireless and network security. We think that the government will continue to spend money on modernization of networks, data mining, cybersecurity and protecting high-value targets. We also predict that soft targets will begin to get more serious about security and response. Emergency preparedness is a very hot topic, and we will see the leisure industry become a very powerful customer. We also think that transportation will advance in their acquisition of security-related products and services. Based on the changing threats, the government will be focused on soft targets. This is a huge opportunity for companies who can provide physical security and emergency-response planning. We must also recognize that events will impact where we spend money. If there is a train that is attacked, then we will see a lot of focus at DOT. If an attack happens at a mall, then money will be spent to protect all malls in the country. We are a nation that reacts to events.”
What sets your practice apart from the field?
“I have a very unique background for someone in the executive search profession. I started my first retainer-based search firm in 1978, and when I left we were the 23rd-largest search firm in the country. In 2000, I began ESGI and we have grown 30 percent year after year. I began my career in retained executive search profession unlike most in our profession. The majority of search professionals were in industry before getting into the search profession. There are many folks in my business who are smart and can effectively sell business. However, there are fewer who really understand how to recruit and make marriages that work. The business is not about finding people, but understanding behavioral aspects of an individual and corporate culture. Helping clients hire the right person for the critical jobs we handle is the most important aspect of our business. ESGI is proud to boast a 95 percent success rate as measured by how well the executive performs one year after the hire.”
Are there any recommendations you can make to executives looking to enhance their personal brand?
“I have always been struck by how poorly executives promote themselves. I see resumes every day from very bright and successful executives that are really badly done. Executives are focused on their business and do not really think about managing their own careers. Considering many resumes are read on hand held PDAs and the short attention span of most busy people, a resume is what we call a ’10-second event.’ Unless you capture someone’s attention in 10 seconds, the resume is put in the ‘file.’ I always council executives to keep a current resume and add to it as they enjoy accomplishments and increase responsibilities. I think attending conferences and getting onto panels is a great way to raise your own visibility. Get published or quoted in industry publications is a good idea. Spend time meeting with peers in your industry to benchmark and discuss best practices. You will be amazed on how open most people are to share ideas, discuss challenges and help each other. Join a peer-to-peer group in your industry. Stay active outside of your own company. This allows you to bring fresh ideas to your employer while raising your own personal brand. When a search firm has a position they are hired to fill, you want them to find you. Stay active on sites like LinkedIn and raise your visibility on Google.”