Tom Sweeney

It's a coming of age tale….

Posts Tagged ‘Skills Grid’

If it wasn’t for the last minute: Nothing would get done…

Posted by sweens on June 8, 2009

Well here I am again looking to screen candidates against tough Government skills grids at the last minute.  I find myself reminiscing of being back in University and staying up all night trying to finish my 50 page paper the night before it was due.  At the time, that was common practice for me.  I have always enjoyed and thrived while working under pressure – perhaps which is why I like refereeing so much!

 But this is still a stressful adventure.  I came into today, one day behind my deadline with two positions left to fill.  Coming in on the weekend did not really help lighten the work load, but luckily I got one position filled today, and have the other one about fifty percent done.  And really I have to thank the candidates who have given me the time of day to help me complete my work.

 Who knew finding Documentation Specialists would be so hard?

 I certainly did not, but am learning the hard way.  I think I more or less just wanted to say ‘thank you’ to everyone who has worked with my today although none of you are likely to read this.  I should be able to complete my project within the deadline – but like most projects – the last minute is sure to turn up some challenges…

Am I the only one who works this way???

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Networking: What I’ve turned to….

Posted by sweens on May 25, 2009

Suddenly I have embarked on a recruiting mission. I am involved in the recruitment of several IT professionals to fill a proposal for the Federal Government. While it sounds like a dream come to – things often seem better then they sound. The challenge for this particular recruit is that we are bidding for the right to do business with our client. And not bidding on actual business.

This poses many challenges for the recruitment process that come up in this type of recruit. Firstly I find it ethically wrong to broadcast or post these jobs because I do not technically have a job for anyone I am speaking to. Should my firm be deemed compliant from our bid, we may then be given some business by our client. All I can offer them is first right of refusal should the business be award to us.

Now this means that I have a tougher time finding people because I can not reach as many candidates as I usually do. But more importantly, it makes the candidates not as likely to help me with the process. As I have mentioned before, I do not come from a technical background, so when it comes to filling out grids for candidates I can only take it so far before I need their help.

Since I am not offering them an ‘issued’ contract, they are not as likely to spend time working on their CV or a skills grid. As such, I am hoping to rely on my network of trusted candidates. People I have worked with before and have relationships with who will hopefully see the long term possibility of working with me for this proposal.

Yeahhhh for networking….

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Best Overall Value: Price VS Score

Posted by sweens on April 9, 2009

For candidates who do not know how Government contracting works, here is a very brief crash course.  The main premise will be that they are looking for the best value for their dollar (their dollar being yours and mine tax dollars). 


Your typical requirement with a Government contract will come with a skills grid containing both mandatory and rated requirements.  You must meet all the mandatory requirements in order to be deemed compliant to have the technical authority score you on the rated requirements.


Once you get to the rated requirements, there is usually a minimum score.  This is typically sixty of seventy percent.  From there, if you pass the minimum score you are deemed compliant and then it becomes a mathematical calculation as to your score compared to your price where the best price per point wins. 




As such, candidates should be aware that the lower their per diem is the better price per point score they will achieve.  The onus is not only on the candidate to lower their per diem, as firms who are looking for a large mark up on the candidates per diem may also price themselves out of the competition.


Another fun fact to think about in the contracting game…

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Understanding the Government of Canada contracting game…

Posted by sweens on March 17, 2009

Often in ones professional career, an individual may need some event to take place that pushes them to start or try something they have always thought about. Tough economic times will offer some of those people the opportunity to branch out and try something they have probably thought about doing for a while.

I have spoken to several individuals lately who through their own actions or their employers actions, have found themselves in a position to start their own professional ventures (mostly starting their own consulting practice). While this is an exciting step in the careers for many professionals, it can also be a difficult and frightful one.

Since the Ottawa market is obviously in a bit of uncertainty these days, many of these new ‘consulting professionals’ are looking to break into the Government world as the Government is obviously the most stable and biggest spending organization Ottawa has to offer during this time. However if you have never contracted into the Government there are a few things you should try to do before you tackle that market space.

The first step is to obtain a security clearance. These days it is almost impossible to get a contract with the Canadian Government without a security clearance. They run from Level 1 to Level 3. Level 2 and Level 3 require more personal information and can take 8 months (or more) to be processed so starting early is not a bad thing. I would recommend that candidates obtain a level 2 (also known as ‘secret’ level) clearance as some of the major departments (DFAIT, DND, Health Canada, etc) often require this level of clearance. Level 3 clearance is almost never required unless working on top secret projects for organizations such as CSIS or DND. Candidates can obtain a clearance via the following URL:

 Secondly, candidates should wrap their head around the whole procurement process that exists in Government contracting. Candidates should be aware that contracts valued under $25000 can be directed to an individual without going to a competitive process. Anything valued over this amount, must go to a competitive process and will likely require the assistance of a staffing firm who has procurement vehicles into the Government. Unfortunately, candidates can not simply walk into a Government department and get hired on as a contractor (as can be done in the private sector).

Thirdly, candidates should be prepared to tailor their resume for each position they apply for, as well as be prepared to complete a skills grid. As mentioned in an earlier blog post, the Government values metrics and the ability to justify why they chose candidate ‘x” over candidate ‘y’, which is where this resume work comes into play. Candidates should be submitting resumes that reflect the requirements for each position they are applying for. This resume along with the skills grid will increase your chances of landing your desired contract.

As more people look to Government contracting over the next while, understanding how the process works and how to achieve the success you are looking for is crucial for any successful consultant.

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Private VS Public: The challenges in dealing with the Government

Posted by sweens on March 13, 2009

One of the big challenges the Ottawa market faces in the work force is the difference between the private sector and the public sector.  Both represent large beasts that struggle to be tamed on a frequent basis.  Let us look at some of the major differences in trying to gain employment in both.


I would suggest that the two main differences between the two are the method of getting in and the way in which you are evaluated.  To get into the Government as a permanent employee takes a long time and usually the more people you know, the better.  I have already discussed the hiring cycle with the Government so let us not repeat such a thrilling topic. 


If you are tired of waiting to get in as an employee you can contract in.  In order to do so, you need to find a procurement vehicle to get in.  Most people end up using an agency that stay in business by placing people into the Government on contract via these procurement vehicles.  While it can be frustrating, this is the way the Government works.  They can not just say “I like Steve Smith and I want to give him this contract.”  They need to begin a competitive process so that others can compete for the business.


Private sector companies do have this ability to work with someone or an agency and simply hire the individual that is of interest to them.  They often provide a list of requirements to an agency and review resumes accordingly while evaluating the candidate based on what their needs are and then proceed to an interview.  This is not always the case with the Government. 


Government usually has candidates fill out detailed skills grids demonstrating their experience.  This process is usually not very labour intensive but certainly slows the process down.  This is done so that everyone who is submitted against a competitive bid can be evaluated in the same manor and everyone can view what the requirements are.  This also leaves the department less vulnerable to someone challenging their hiring decisions as candidates are screened, scored and evaluated the same way based on a specific requirement.


While some candidates may prefer dealing with the private sector or the public sector over the other, understanding how the evaluation for each side is done is essential to finding gainful employment on either side.  Private sector values work experience and places importance on the interview.  Public sector values metrics and places importance on how you compare against similar candidates.


Oh, I forgot to mention that price ALWAYS plays a key in hiring decisions. 


So whether you are interested in public or private sector opportunities, you need to be aware that both sectors have different values when it comes to making a hiring decision.  Understanding this decision is an important element to your job search.


I also forgot to mention, that the Government spends Billions of Dollars every year on contracting.  Something to think about as the private sector slows down right now.

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