Some contracts in the DoD require 24/7 coverage by employees, particularly for watch centers, intelligence missions, or drone operations. With COVID-19 protocols, shift work has become even more common at government customer sites.

Shift-work involves coverage over the entire week and means that employees will work during a set period of time within that 24 hour period. It could be a night shift, morning shift, or a rotating shift schedule with other workers on the team.

For some candidates, shift work is ideal and a perk. For others, they wouldn’t want to touch it with a 100-foot pole. The trick is to know which candidate you are speaking with and how to convince them to take the shift you are trying to fill.


  1. Ask what shift the candidate wants and see if you can shift around the team. Be sure you communicate with your team lead to understand what the current shifts are and if employees are open to switching shifts. If the schedule is the only thing stopping the candidate from accepting the position, it’s worth seeing if you can do some maneuvering. Keep in mind, however, that sometimes the government customer won’t allow this, particularly for greener employees working a graveyard shift alone.
  2. Convince them the shift isn’t forever or highlight the rotating aspect. Sometimes a rotating schedule can be attractive to certain candidates. If folks are working a shift onsite in a SCIF, sometimes the flexibility of having rotating time off (such as four days off in a row) can sound appealing to someone who say, likes to travel.
  3. If there is no shift differential, make some. Night shift differential is the differential paid for work performed when the majority of an employee’s regularly scheduled hours fall during the evening hours. It is computed as a percentage of the employee’s rate of basic pay and is obviously a motivating factor for employee’s looking for a bump in pay. If the contract doesn’t offer shift differential, check with your internal hiring / program manager and HR to see if you can make some liberty with the compensation package.

As always, recruiting is understanding the candidate’s motivations and selling them the most attractive parts of the program. Shift work is no different!



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Katie Keller is a marketing fanatic that enjoys anything digital, communications, promotions & events. She has 8+ 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! 🇺🇸