Every couple weeks some friend or other will call me with the same problem.  They’ve found a position that fits their skills and interests perfectly, but haven’t heard anything back from the company’s recruiters after submitting their application online.  And it’s been almost two weeks now!  (That’s meant to sound sarcastic.)  Inevitably, they’ll ask if I can find out anything for them.

Now, I wish I could say that I’m so plugged in to all of the other recruiters from major defense contractors, and that I have a web of networks stretching across the industry, but that’s just not the case.  Most of the time, it’s a struggle for me to keep my own positions filled with semi-capable people.  But since I like to stay in the loop about different job openings, I usually end up at least running a couple of Google searches for them.  It’s amazing what you can find out if you know where to look, and what to look for.  A good deal of the time, the reason that these qualified people aren’t getting callbacks is because of two little words:

Blue Sky.

The legal term “Blue Sky” was first used 100 years ago to classify certain speculative real estate ventures.  When this is other similar terminology is used in a job description, it’s simply a disclaimer that says the company is accepting applications for the position, but hasn’t yet been awarded the actual contract.  In the past decade, even service providers like overseas security companies have tried to reduce waste by adopting the “Lean” practices of manufacturers, most notably Toyota.  In terms of staffing, this means that they’re not going to hire the first employee for a program until they’ve definitely been awarded the contract.  Putting out a call for resumes in advance shows that they’re confident about being awarded the work, and it also helps cut down the time needed to stand up the program.

That’s great for the company, but what does it mean for you?  My thoughts are that you should try to avoid putting all of your eggs into a Blue Sky basket.  Go ahead and apply for the position since you can’t get hired if you don’t apply, but definitely keep your job search rolling.  Also, if you feel that the job duties would be a great fit for you, so much so that it wouldn’t matter which company you work for, check out the individual contract’s specifics at the Federal Business Opportunities website.  The anticipated contract award date will help you schedule your career transition, and you’ll be able to find out which other companies are competing in order to send resumes to them as well. 

Not all companies still use the term “Blue Sky”.   You’re just as likely to see a similar blurb tacked on under the job description, something like “In anticipation of contract award” or “Notional Opportunity.”  The point is, you should always take a few extra minutes to read the job posting thoroughly, even beyond the salary, location, and list of duties.   Run a Google search to look up any terms that you’re not familiar with.  There’s a lot to be learned from paying attention to detail…