How To Get a Government Contract Job – What You Need To Know

Ezra Cabrera | September 19, 2023


    If you're interested in pursuing a government contract job, it's important to clearly understand the necessary steps and requirements.

    In this guide, we'll provide you with the essential information you need to know to successfully navigate the process of obtaining a government contract job.

    From researching the competition to understanding the application process, we'll cover all the key aspects to help you get started on securing a government contract job.

    What is a Government Contractor?

    A government contractor is a private business or individual that enters into agreements with government agencies to provide goods, services, or expertise. These contracts range from construction projects to technology services, consulting, defense equipment, and research.

    Government contractors are crucial in delivering the resources and capabilities needed for various government operations and initiatives. The contracting process involves competitive bidding, compliance with regulations, and meeting specific standards outlined by the government.

    Contractors are accountable for delivering on their contractual obligations, often contributing to public infrastructure, defense, healthcare, and technology advancements.

    How To Get a Government Contractor Job

    To get a government contractor job, you can follow these eight steps:

    1. Browse Job Search Websites.

    Online job search platforms are a treasure trove of potential government contractor job opportunities. Websites such as Indeed, LinkedIn, and SimplyHired provide a user-friendly interface where a diverse range of job listings is aggregated. Here's how to leverage these platforms effectively:

    Variety of Listings

    These platforms host various job listings spanning different industries, job roles, and locations. From entry-level to senior positions, you'll find opportunities catering to varying levels of expertise.

    Keyword Tailoring

    Use of specific keywords to enhance your search precision. Incorporate terms like "government contractor" or "contracting jobs" to filter your results. This tactic narrows down your search to roles directly related to government contracting.

    Refining Filters

    Most job search websites offer advanced search filters. Utilize these filters to tailor your search results further. You can refine listings based on preferred location, specific skills, job type (full-time, part-time, contract), and more.

    Location Flexibility

    Adjust your search location to explore opportunities in specific regions. This is particularly beneficial if you're open to relocating or considering remote work options.

    Skill Emphasis

    Highlight your skills on your profile or resume. Job search platforms often use algorithms to match your skills with relevant job postings, increasing the visibility of your profile to potential employers.

    Custom Alerts

    Set up custom job alerts based on your preferences. This feature notifies you when new job listings that match your criteria are posted, ensuring you stay updated without manually searching every day.

    Company Insights

    Some platforms provide insights into companies that are hiring, allowing you to research potential employers before applying.

    2. Explore Federal Government Agency Websites.

    Government agencies are key players in contracting, often relying on contractors to meet specific requirements. Exploring agency websites can offer valuable insights into available contractor positions. Here's how you can effectively leverage these platforms:

    Contracting Needs

    Government agencies frequently engage contractors to supplement their workforce and fulfill specialized tasks. These contracts cover various fields, from technology and healthcare to construction and consulting.

    USAJOBS and Beyond

    USAJOBS is a renowned platform for federal job listings, including contractor roles. Explore the contractor-specific listings on USAJOBS to find opportunities that match your skills and interests. In addition to USAJOBS, visit individual agency websites for tailored insights.

    Available Role

    Agencies often provide detailed job descriptions for contractor positions they seek to fill. These descriptions outline responsibilities, qualifications, and application requirements, enabling you to gauge your fit for the role.

    Submission Deadlines

    Take note of submission deadlines for contractor positions. Government agencies usually have set timeframes for accepting applications. Regularly visiting agency websites ensures you know application windows and can submit your materials on time.

    Direct Communication

    Agency websites often offer contact information for questions about job opportunities. Engage in professional communication if you have queries regarding a specific position or the application process.

    Contractor Policies

    Some agencies have specific policies for hiring contractors. Understand these policies, including security clearances or specialized certifications requirements, to prepare your application better.

    Diverse Agencies

    Government agencies span various sectors, each with unique needs. From the Department of Defense to the Department of Health and Human Services, explore agencies relevant to your skills and aspirations.

    Regular Updates

    Government projects and needs evolve. You can stay informed about new projects, upcoming contracts, and emerging opportunities by consistently visiting agency websites.

    3. Review Contractor Websites.

    Leading government contractors like Northrop Grumman and Raytheon often provide valuable insights into job opportunities through their dedicated career sections. Here's how you can navigate these contractor websites effectively:

    Career Sections

    Established contractors maintain dedicated website sections exclusively for career opportunities. These sections are comprehensive hubs to explore job openings, company culture, and application procedures.

    Specialized Opportunities

    Contractor websites feature openings that align with their specific projects and expertise. Tailor your search by exploring roles that match your skills and aspirations within the contractor's domain.

    Job Descriptions

    Each job listing on contractor websites typically includes detailed descriptions of the role's responsibilities, qualifications, and benefits. This information enables you to assess your fit for the position before applying.

    Skill Alignment

    Identify positions that align with your skill set and professional background. Contractors often seek candidates who can contribute directly to their ongoing projects.

    Application Process

    Familiarize yourself with the application process outlined on the contractor's website. This includes submitting resumes, cover letters, and any additional documents required.

    Register for Job Alerts

    Many contractor websites offer the option to register for job alerts. Signing up will notify you whenever new job postings matching your criteria are added.

    Networking Opportunities

    Some contractor websites include links to their social media profiles or provide opportunities to engage with company representatives at industry events. Utilize these connections to gain a deeper understanding of the organization.

    4. Local Business Directories.

    Local business directories serve as valuable resources for uncovering government contractor job opportunities right in your vicinity. Here's how you can effectively utilize these directories to your advantage:

    Accessible Listings

    Local business directories compile a comprehensive list of companies operating within your area. This resource provides a starting point for identifying potential employers engaged in government contracting.

    Government Contracting Focus

    Within these directories, pinpoint businesses with a track record of government contracting. These companies are more likely to offer opportunities related to projects with local government agencies or federal organizations.

    Hidden Opportunities

    Not all job openings are publicly advertised. You might uncover unadvertised positions or upcoming projects that need skilled professionals by approaching companies directly.

    Networking Potential

    Engaging with local businesses through these directories can establish valuable connections. Your proactive outreach could lead to future opportunities or referrals, even without immediate openings.

    Local Relevance

    Government contractors often prioritize hiring individuals familiar with the local landscape and needs. Highlight your familiarity with the area and its nuances when contacting companies.

    5. Press Releases and News Sites.

    Staying informed through industry news and press releases is a strategic approach to uncovering government contractor job opportunities. Here's how you can effectively utilize this method to your advantage:

    Industry Insights

    Industry news sources and press releases provide valuable insights into recent developments, including companies that have secured government contracts. Monitoring these sources keeps you updated on organizations actively engaged in government projects.

    Contract Awards

    When a company wins a government contract, they often announce it through press releases. These announcements may include details about the project scope and the skills they seek in potential hires.

    Industry-Specific Websites

    Industry-specific websites and forums cater to professionals in government contracting and related fields. Engage with these platforms to gain insights, participate in discussions, and potentially discover job openings.

    News Outlets and Trade Publications

    Keep an eye on reputable news outlets and trade publications that cover government contracts, defense, technology, healthcare, and other relevant sectors. These sources often highlight industry trends and the companies involved.

    Networking Potential

    Engage with professionals in the field through social media, online forums, and networking events. These connections can provide insider information about upcoming projects and potential job opportunities.

    Subscribe to Newsletters

    Many industry websites offer newsletters that deliver the latest news directly to your inbox. Subscribe to these newsletters to stay consistently informed about industry developments.

    Track Record

    Companies that consistently win government contracts might have ongoing hiring needs. Keep an eye on these companies, as they might have recurring job opportunities.

    6. Consult Your Professional Network.

    Networking is invaluable. Connect with professionals in the government contracting field through events, social media platforms, and industry associations. Your network can provide insights, referrals, and information about hidden job opportunities.

    Events and Gatherings

    Attend industry events, workshops, and conferences. Meet experts in person and expand your circle of contacts.

    Social Media Connections

    Use platforms like LinkedIn to connect with government contracting peers. Join groups, participate in discussions, and build relationships.

    Industry Associations

    Join organizations related to government contracting. Attend meetings and webinars to meet people in the field.

    7. Use Career Center Resources.

    Academic institutions and community career centers offer resources catered to government contracting job seekers. Leverage their workshops, job fairs, and databases to gain a competitive edge and access exclusive listings.

    Tailored Resources

    Career centers specialize in helping with government contracting careers. They understand your needs and offer relevant resources.

    Workshops and Training

    Attend workshops to enhance your skills. These sessions focus on topics important for government contract roles.

    Exclusive Listings

    They often have access to job listings not found elsewhere. These exclusive opportunities can give you an edge.

    Resume and Interview Help

    Get assistance crafting effective resumes and preparing for interviews specific to government contracting roles.

    Industry Insights

    Career centers stay updated on industry trends. They can provide you with valuable insights.


    Some career centers offer mentorship programs, connecting you with experienced professionals in government contracting.

    Online Resources

    Many career centers have online databases and resources you can access anytime.

    8. Attend Job Fairs.

    Job fairs focusing on government contracting and related sectors provide direct access to employers. Attend with a polished resume, clear elevator pitch, and insightful questions about the organizations present. Networking at these events can lead to interviews and potential job offers.

    Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

    To start a career in government contracting, here are some steps you can consider:

    1. Obtain a relevant education.
      While the government welcomes individuals from diverse backgrounds, most contracting officer positions require a minimum of a four-year bachelor's degree.

    2. Gain a basic understanding of the acquisition process.
      Familiarize yourself with the acquisition process and the regulations governing government contracting. This will help you navigate the complexities of the field.

    3. Develop the necessary competencies.
      Identify the competencies required for a career in government contracting and work on acquiring them. This may include negotiation, communication, contract management, and financial analysis skills.

    4. Complete mandatory training.
      Government contracting positions often require specific training. Ensure you complete mandatory training programs to enhance your knowledge and qualifications.

    5. Consider entry-level positions.
      Starting at an entry-level position, such as a GS 7-9 level, can be an excellent way to begin your career in government contracting. Gain experience and work your way up the career ladder.

    6. Network and gain experience.
      Networking with professionals in the government contracting field can help you learn about job opportunities and gain valuable insights. Additionally, consider internships or volunteer work to gain practical experience.

    7. Stay updated on industry trends.
      Keep yourself informed about the latest government contracting developments, regulations, and trends. This will demonstrate your commitment to the field and help you stay competitive.

    What is the process of getting a government contract?

    The process of getting a government contract typically involves several key steps. First, it is important to learn about government contracting and research the competition to understand the techniques and strategies used in the federal market. Additionally, preliminary considerations include establishing business credit, funding your business, and choosing a business structure.

    To begin the contracting process, you will need to obtain a Dun & Bradstreet (D&B) DUNS number, which serves as an identifier for your business and can help you secure a contract with the U.S. government.

    The federal contracting process consists of six phases. Phase I involves planning and forecasting acquisition needs. Once you have identified a potential opportunity, you will need to submit a bid or proposal in response to the government's solicitation. The government will then evaluate the bids and select the winning contractor. If your bid is successful, you will enter into contract negotiations and finalize the terms and conditions

    After the contract is awarded, the next phases involve contract administration, performance, and closeout. These phases include managing the contract, fulfilling the contractual obligations, and ensuring compliance with regulations and reporting requirements.

    How much can you make from government contracts?

    The profit margin for government contracts can vary depending on various factors, such as the type of contract, industry, and competition. It is difficult to provide a specific amount as it can range from lower to higher margins. However, it is commonly believed that government contractors have the potential to earn substantial profits due to the large expenditure on contracts by government agencies.

    The Government Accountability Office (GAO) reported a $637 billion expenditure on contracts in 2021, highlighting the significant financial opportunities available. Additionally, the government sets aside a portion of the payout specifically for small businesses, which adds to the potential for profit. To determine the exact amount one can make from government contracts, it is important to research the specific industry, competition, and individual contract terms.

    How do you compete for government contracts?

    If you want to win government contracts, follow these steps to qualify your business:

    1. Register your business.
      Start by registering your business and getting a unique ID called a UEI. It's a must-have to compete for government contracts.

    2. Get a small business certification.
      To access small business opportunities, certify your business as small. This helps you compete for special small business contracts.

    3. Research the federal market.
      Understand the federal market landscape. Use resources from the Small Business Administration (SBA) to get the upper hand in competing.

    4. Check SBA assistance programs.
      The SBA has programs to support businesses in the contract competition. Make the most of these resources.

    5. Find contracts to bid.
      Use databases to find federal contracts that match your skills and interests. These databases help you pinpoint the right opportunities.

    About the Author

    Ezra Neiel Cabrera has a bachelor’s degree in Business Administration with a major in Entrepreneurial Marketing. Over the last 3 years, she has been writing business-centric articles to help small business owners grow and expand. Ezra mainly writes for SMB Compass, but you can find some of her work in All Business, Small Biz Daily, LaunchHouse, Marketing2Business, and Clutch, among others. When she’s not writing, you’ll find her in bed eating cookies and binge-watching Netflix.