The Pentagon hit the reset button on the $10 billion Joint Enterprise Defense Infrastructure (JEDI) cloud contract after a long road of being stuck in litigation limbo due to Amazon Web Services (AWS) protesting the 2019 award of the contract to Microsoft. JEDI was meant to be a COTS product of existing cloud technology, while providing economies of scale to the DoD.

Microsoft and AWS have plenty of opportunities to keep their workers busy, but mid-size/smaller companies may see major swings every time a contract is lost. How can recruiters cope?


The positive thing about defense contracting is that most companies are smart. They go after work under the same capabilities as their portfolio or past performance – you rarely see a prominent logistics company go after a $10 billion cloud infrastructure effort unless they have something to bring to the table. Therefore, your cleared candidates will most likely work for either current funded openings you are filling or future work you are waiting for an award on.

1. Communicating with your pipelined candidates.

You have fostered this relationship with candidates throughout submitting your proposal, communicating when there was an award (or protest), and continuing to nurture the relationship, informing them that they are still slotted for the work. When you receive notice of a contract cancellation, or even losing a bid, just be honest with the candidate. If it’s something as big as the JEDI contract, they’ve certainly heard the news, but if it’s smaller work they will want to be updated. Talk with your program managers about a comms plan so the entire recruiting team is aligned and on the same page – including what work you can use these pipelined candidates for.

Letting a candidate know a contract was cancelled sure beats telling them you lost the entire re-bid after running the effort for the last five years.

2. Attaching cleared candidates to other contracts.

Simply informing your candidates that you lost the contract and letting them move on would simply be a waste. Most companies that were on the Microsoft and AWS teams most likely have other positions in an around the DMV working on cloud computing that they can utilize those candidates for. You’ve developed this relationship, so it’s time to propose your next best gig. JEDI was not the only contract (though a big effort) requiring the use of DevSecOps gurus, software engineers, and cloud architects. Create a plan of attack for each individual candidate – and let them know your team worked hard in finding another position to fit their location preference, job duties, and salary requirements. For example, you could offer a BETTER position that allows for 75% remote work, an exciting new contract supporting the FBI, an engineering role within the Special Forces, a position with a higher salary that breaks 200K, or something similar to the former role you discussed working within AWS, just as a subcontractor.

When proposing the new position, just highlight the perks that you know would be important to your candidate through your previous conversations.

3. Maintaining the relationship for future work.

Even if your cleared candidate decides to pass on your new role following a contract cancellation, continue to stay in touch.

A recruiter and a candidate’s professional relationship should never be one and done, ESPECIALLY if you are recruiting for one of the smaller fish. Your network is even more important, because you would be gobbled up in that popularity contest with one of the bigger whales.




Related News

Katie Helbling is a marketing fanatic that enjoys anything digital, communications, promotions & events. She has 10+ years in the DoD supporting multiple contractors with recruitment strategy, staffing augmentation, marketing, & communications. Favorite type of beer: IPA. Fave hike: the Grouse Grind, Vancouver, BC. Fave social platform: ClearanceJobs! 🇺🇸