In spite of the pandemic, I’m heartened to see that some companies are investing in long term growth and are actively looking to add full-time employees (FTEs) to their proposal teams. I say this, as I work for a staffing and recruiting firm and, while a few of my clients have still forged ahead with their hiring needs, the vast majority have put their hiring plans on a temporary pause. 

Clearly, now is a market like no other. Interestingly, it could be either a good time or a terrible time to be looking for new staff.

Terrible, because we are all going through this pandemic together, where it’s safe to say that people may be fearful and anxious about the future, on many levels. Those already gainfully employed that might previously have been open to new opportunities are grateful to be employed, and less willing to rock the boat. For others, the rate of change right now in their personal and professional lives is so profound that they don’t want to even consider an additional, voluntary change.

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On the plus side, however, there are now fewer firms that are hiring. Most of the competition is putting hiring on hold, so firms have a better chance of capturing “active” job seekers.  I’ve seen my share of canceled reqs and rescinded offers and there is absolutely a pool of candidates that are ready to make a change. And sadly, with a mind-blowing 30 million files for unemployment claims, it’s inevitable that layoffs are touching every industry and domain area, including the proposal industry.

At a more nuanced level, companies are going through massive change as they assess their bottom line, cash flow and short- and long-term growth goals. For some organizations, this is an opportunity for leaders to step up and shine to truly unite their workforce; for others; the pressures may exacerbate previous issues or leadership gaps to negatively impact staff morale. Some individuals, while adjusting to new work patterns, may reflect to take stock and do some soul-searching about their future career and personal and professional goals. These passive candidates may therefore be more open to new opportunities than previously.

Simply put, while many companies by necessity are retrenching or pausing their hiring efforts, now is a smart time to recruit, even if it seems counterintuitive. This is especially true of the proposal industry; for government contractors, the federal government is still open for business (almost) as usual. Some companies are seeing a slowdown, depending on their customer base, but the vast majority are still busy responding to requests for proposals and are not anticipating that to change.

It’s true, none of us knows how long or how deep our recession will be, or what “shape” a recovery will take. That said, there WILL be a recovery. And when the market rebounds, it will be harder than ever to find good professional professionals. Those firms that are hiring now will just get ahead of the pent-up demand.


Note: This article reflects my perspectives on proposal hiring, though applies to other professional categories where the workforce is able to work remotely during shelter-at-home conditions.