What is the Difference Between a Contingent vs. Current Billable Job Opening

Posted by Jay Perreault

If you’re a cleared job seeker you may have run into contingent vs. current billable job openings. What’s the difference?

The short answer is whether or not the position is currently funded or not. The definition of contingent in Webster’s Dictionary is likely but not certain to happen: Possible.

How does this difference affect you? If you have time to make your decision and go on multiple interviews, then contingent offers are adequate. For example, the government wants to hire 100 IT technicians to work on an IT data center build out, but has not determined which company is going to perform the work. Several companies are ready to deliver the manpower – it’s not uncommon for some companies to start this process six months prior to award grant — in case they win the award.

Most contracts specifically indicate that people will be deployed within 30-45 days of contract award, so both parties (candidate and contracting company) need to move quickly. Companies will pre-screen, interview and select top-qualified candidates to perform the work. They will most likely extend a “contingent offer” which means that the applicant will be hired as soon as the government grants the award. In the offer letter, you will see items such as work location, salary, job title and any other company offerings such as PTO, benefits or even company sponsored life insurance. You are expected to start within 2 weeks’ notice.

Once you receive a contingent offer letter you should not stop looking for work. Putting all your eggs in one basket might work against you. What if the company you signed with doesn’t receive the award?

From a recruiter’s perspective, I don’t think it’s a realistic expectation that a person is going to wait around till I receive a final disposition of award or no award. However I hope that the candidate is being up front with me and is being honest when they say they have received another offer and that they are unavailable.

Be cautious of accepting any more than 2-3 contingent offers, so be selective. You are committing to work for a company and they are expecting you to start work. Your reputation is on the line. The world, and especially the contracting business, is a lot smaller than you might think. Word does get around.

I have spoken with a few contractors who think that it is okay to accept multiple contingent offers for the same contract but commit to different companies. Be careful, you are not aware what type of teaming agreements big companies have and you could find yourself in hot water.

They may have entered into a Prime and Sub-Prime relationship. Both companies may compare notes that you have entered into an agreement and it might cost you the position. Working directly with the Prime will typically offer you better rates. Working with a Sub-Prime may also be acceptable. It is not uncommon for companies to compete for the same labor pool. Work closely with your recruiter, aka your career advisor, to help you make the right choices.

Conversely if you are in a hurry to obtain employment, contingent offers might not be the best choice for you. Remember it might take up to six months to hear if you have employment. Current billable vacancies can be summed up easily from the employer’s perspective. Every day the position goes unfilled, the program manager is losing revenue that they could be billing to their customer. Expediency is critical.

Some recruiters are even measured on their performance by how long it takes them to fill that vacancy, called days-to-fill. It’s in your best interest to ask during your phone screen or interview if this position has been funded and when they expect the selectee to start working.

Do your part by returning calls or e-mails to your recruiter to assist with your onboarding. If they give you a task such as filling out an application, return it in less than 12 hours. If you make it to the forms stage (verbal offer), a suggested turn-around is 8 hours or less. Showing your expediency now and your attention to detail will pay off in the long run.

Jay Perreault has been recruiting top talent since 2000, and is currently the Recruiting Manager for the Talent Acquisition Directorate, National Security Programs at AECOM. Check out Jay’s web site or follow him on Twitter @DCTechRecruiter.


This entry was posted on Tuesday, October 23, 2012 1:46 pm

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