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I've spent my entire (8 year) career in the federal government specifically as an 1102. Currently looking outside of the federal government but keep running into the issue where I feel I'm not qualified for something because private sector companies tend to look for more of a legal background and less of a business/leadership background. 

What are some positions in the private sector that a Contracting Officer may be able to transition into fairly well? 

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if you are looking for a private sector equivalent type position in firms that don’t  focus on government acquisition, I would think that they are looking for what you described. Business law and good  business judgement qualifications...

in my opinion, government 1102 or equivalent military experience doesn’t necessarily qualify one for non-government contracting positions in firms that don’t limit themselves to government contracts. And working for an entity that is over $228 billion in debt doesn’t necessarily qualify one for employment in a company that must make a profit to stay in business. 

In some huge firms that specialize in government contracts, I’ve seen some corporate contracting execs who even out “FAR” the government, to the point of ridiculousness. If it isn’t literally prescribed in the FAR, they are lost. Many of those worked for big defense contractors, whose primary experience were with government cost reimbursement contracts.  They were often unable to succeed on fixed price contracts. 

I apologize for my sarcasm this morning.  

What type of specific work activities are you looking for? E.g.,  How to contract with the government? How to win contracts with industry? How to subcontract or acquire products? How to negotiate contracts and subcontracts? How to manage subcontracts?  

Manufacturing? Services? Construction? Etc.  

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16 hours ago, Captain22 said:

I've spent my entire (8 year) career in the federal government specifically as an 1102. Currently looking outside of the federal government but keep running into the issue where I feel I'm not qualified for something because private sector companies tend to look for more of a legal background and less of a business/leadership background. 

What are some positions in the private sector that a Contracting Officer may be able to transition into fairly well? 

If you're looking to continue focusing as the "customer" in the private sector with similar skillset, then Procurement/Supply Chain/Buyer is probably what you'd want. If you want to switch gears and be client-focused (where you're dealing with 1102s on the other side of the table), then Contracts (Administrator, Specialist, Representative, Manager) tend to be the titles used (though look at the job description to be sure). The tricky one is Subcontract Manager. I've seen that title used for either position, because some companies refer to Subcontracts as anything in their supply chain, and some companies refer to them as contracts where they themselves are a Sub to another Prime. 

Client-facing Contracts positions are more prevalent in the DOD/Intelligence industry. Beyond that, I've found most companies rely on a combination of sales team and in-house counsel to meet these needs.

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I made the jump to the private sector Government contractor from a Federal Civil Service position some time ago and it was a pretty even shift.  The job position I applied for and was hired for (Senior Procurement Administrator),  was worded much like a USAJOBS announcement for an 1102 and specifically called out for experience with the FAR, DFARS and other Government related areas.

My  job was to sit on the other side of the table from Federal contract negotiators and later the same individuals in foreign governments for contract negotiations.  It was different enough to open my eyes to serious negotiation procedures compared to what I had previously experienced in the Federal Government. It was the same in that the FAR, DFARS and eventually foreign government procurement regulations were the basis of many negotiations. 

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On 2/18/2019 at 7:54 AM, joel hoffman said:

 What type of specific work activities are you looking for? E.g.,  How to contract with the government? How to win contracts with industry? How to subcontract or acquire products? How to negotiate contracts and subcontracts? How to manage subcontracts?  

Manufacturing? Services? Construction? Etc.  

More of a contract administrator role or assisting small businesses in breaking into government contracting (I realize there probably won't be many job postings for this type of work). From Kevlar51's response, it would be more along the lines of client-focused positions. 

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On ‎2‎/‎22‎/‎2019 at 4:56 PM, Captain22 said:

More of a contract administrator role or assisting small businesses in breaking into government contracting (I realize there probably won't be many job postings for this type of work). From Kevlar51's response, it would be more along the lines of client-focused positions. 

For the latter (assisting small businesses...), you might want to check out the PTAC (Procurement Technical Assistance Center) or SBDC (Small Business Development Center) in your area or in areas you would be interested in.  Those organizations are outside of the Federal employment system so you would not be a GS-1102 if you worked there.  There a lot of offices for both categories, and most are located in or associated with universities so they provide an interesting place to work.

Those organizations specifically assist small businesses in the Federal contracting arena so your contracting experience would be of value as an employee at those organizations.  

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I would recommend looking for the title of Subcontract Manager or Administrator. This is a pretty common title in defense and construction companies in my experience. The work is similar to a contract specialist or officer in the Government especially in a CPSR environment.

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On 2/27/2019 at 10:54 AM, DWGerard1102 said:

For the latter (assisting small businesses...), you might want to check out the PTAC (Procurement Technical Assistance Center) or SBDC (Small Business Development Center) in your area or in areas you would be interested in.  Those organizations are outside of the Federal employment system so you would not be a GS-1102 if you worked there.  There a lot of offices for both categories, and most are located in or associated with universities so they provide an interesting place to work.

Those organizations specifically assist small businesses in the Federal contracting arena so your contracting experience would be of value as an employee at those organizations.  

Super helpful! Thanks for pointing me in the right direction. 

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  • 6 months later...
On ‎2‎/‎17‎/‎2019 at 6:08 PM, Captain22 said:

I've spent my entire (8 year) career in the federal government specifically as an 1102. Currently looking outside of the federal government but keep running into the issue where I feel I'm not qualified for something because private sector companies tend to look for more of a legal background and less of a business/leadership background. 

What are some positions in the private sector that a Contracting Officer may be able to transition into fairly well? 

I left the Federal Government as a Warranted Contracting Officer 4 months ago (after 9 years of service).  The title of my current position is "Contract Manager".  I started my search for other jobs outside the federal government by searching the typical job posting sites for key words such as "FAR" & "DFARS".  Using those terms I found a plethora of jobs seeking the exact qualifications I brought to the table.  Within a month of searching and applying I had four interviews and three offers.  Also, I used a resume writing service to produce my resume...cost about $250 but worth every penny.  Good Luck, this is a great job market and companies are competing for the right people.  Also, do not forget to ask for your exit letter from the Government Attorney's.  You should be well aware of the one year, two year, and lifetime bands placed on Contracting Officer's.  That last part might narrow "who" you can work for so make sure you get that started soon. 

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  • 2 months later...

If you would like to do private sector entirely (nothing related to the FAR), then I would job search "Procurement". Private companies have a profit motive and often procurement agents are integrated with the business planning team since procurement represents expenditures and often performance. Changes are easier to make and just must adhere to company policy, the UCC, and what legal might advise. Depending, competition requirements are much more relaxed as well, and negotiations can happen more quickly and deeply. Procurement professionals are in high demand.

I made more money in private sector procurement, but the benefits were not as good as the federal government. Also, people do not like to hear this one... I worked loads more! There was an upside though. The sky is the limit in the private sector if you are ambitious. Our Chief Procurement Officer made shy of a million $ annually. SVPs made $250k-450k. VPs made $180k-250k. Directors $120-180k. Managers $100-160k. Seniors $80k-120. Specialists $60-90k. Buyers $40-70k.

There weren't many real benefits though. Crummy healthcare and retirement. 2 weeks of vacation a year. Bonuses comprised some of the salary potential and is a huge issue if you have an unsympathetic boss. Hiring and firing takes weeks, not months or years.

Instead of Congress, you have the Board of Directors and the C-levels (and all of their shenanigans and motives) to deal with.

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My biggest concern is losing the pension, 8 hrs per pay of annual leave, and a 40 hour work week.

I'd have to make a LOT more in the private sector to match the overall value of my federal job, and that's just not likely with my less than 5 years of experience in contracting.

So I guess I'll always be a federal employee. As nice as it sounds to have the potential to make $250k or more per year, it's just not worth the costs to me.

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  • 1 month later...
On 12/10/2019 at 3:54 AM, ConTraCula said:

If you would like to do private sector entirely (nothing related to the FAR), then I would job search "Procurement". Private companies have a profit motive and often procurement agents are integrated with the business planning team since procurement represents expenditures and often performance. Changes are easier to make and just must adhere to company policy, the UCC, and what legal might advise. Depending, competition requirements are much more relaxed as well, and negotiations can happen more quickly and deeply. Procurement professionals are in high demand.

I made more money in private sector procurement, but the benefits were not as good as the federal government. Also, people do not like to hear this one... I worked loads more! There was an upside though. The sky is the limit in the private sector if you are ambitious. Our Chief Procurement Officer made shy of a million $ annually. SVPs made $250k-450k. VPs made $180k-250k. Directors $120-180k. Managers $100-160k. Seniors $80k-120. Specialists $60-90k. Buyers $40-70k.

There weren't many real benefits though. Crummy healthcare and retirement. 2 weeks of vacation a year. Bonuses comprised some of the salary potential and is a huge issue if you have an unsympathetic boss. Hiring and firing takes weeks, not months or years.

Instead of Congress, you have the Board of Directors and the C-levels (and all of their shenanigans and motives) to deal with.

Great view of both sides - Thanks ConTraCula. I've still been looking outside of the federal government, but in most cases I'd have to take almost a 50% pay cut if I make the jump to the private sector. Pair that with the lack of other benefits as you noted and it's just not that appealing. 

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