Recruiting is an essential function for federal contractors, whose ability to find and hire the right candidate directly affects the company’s ability to win contracts and earn revenue. Contract wins, corporate hires and RFP support are all areas that government contractors need assistance with. 

The U.S. Department of Labor’s (DOL) Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs (OFCCP) imposes significant parameters on recruiting to help ensure that contractor hiring practices are fair and non-discriminatory. These recruiting requirements can be confusing and difficult to apply in practice for many contractors.

Federal contractors recruiting obligations vary based on the size of your organization and the dollar amount of your contracts.

Companies under 50 employees and more than $10,000 in contracts:

(1) Executive order – 11246:

Do not discriminate on basis of race, color, religion, sex, or national origin;Post EEO Posters in the workplace;Include the EEO Tag Line in Employment Advertising;Contractors with fewer than 150 employees or a contract of less than $150,000 are to keep applicant/personnel records (job descriptions, job postings and advertisements, records of job offers, applications and resumes, Interview notes, tests and test results, written employment policies and procedures, personnel files) for 1 year;Permit OFCCP access to books and records during a complaint investigation or compliance evaluation.

(2) Section 503(b) of the Rehabilitation Act

All contractors must comply with non-discrimination, self-Identification, and record keeping requirements. The 503(b) invitation to self-identify must be sent to all qualified applicants regardless if you interview him/her. The 503(b) form offers applicants the chance to self-identify based on their disability.

(3) VEVRAA

If your company has more than $100,000 in contracts, you must additionally offer applicants the Vietnam Era Veterans’ Readjustment Assistance Act  (VEVRAA) Invitation to self-identify. Companies with over 50 employees and more than $50,000 in contracts are required to comply with number (1) through (3) above as well as the information listed below: 


(1) Executive Order 11246

All Federal contractors regardless if you are a Prime or a subcontractor and have 50 or more employees and $50,000 or more in government contracts during the preceding 12-month period are also required to draft an annual  Affirmative Action Plan (AAP). Companies do not submit their AAPs to the DOL for review. However, if the OFCCP audits a company, an AAP must be made available for their review. An AAP must also be provided to any employee who wishes to view the plan,  as well as candidates. The OFCCP may prosecute a Company, who fails to maintain an annual AAP, to include criminal proceedings, the suspense of payments from the Government and termination of contracts or subcontracts. Contractors with more than 150 employees or a contract in excess of $150,000 are to keep applicant/personnel records (job descriptions, job postings and advertisements, records of job offers, applications and resumes, Interview notes, tests and test results, written employment policies and procedures, personnel files) for two (2) years. File the annual EEO-1 Report. Regardless of your company size, complying with the applicable guidelines is not merely a legal requirement. The compliance also serves as a vital benchmark in establishing an effective recruiting process.

To help ensure compliance with these laws and regulations, contractors should adopt a standardized recruiting procedure to ensure that all candidates are treated in conformance with the OFCCP expectations. Important elements of that procedure should include the following:

Save ALL search streams and the job boards on which they were utilized when “mining” resumes and save all resumes and “expressions of interest” for two years. Note: use OFCCP compliant mining and job posting boards. Be aware that there are hundreds of free job boards that are not OFCCP compliant. Those resumes that the Recruiter has determined meet the minimum qualifications should be kept for two years because when OFCCP audits your AAP, supporting records for the last two years must be produced. Identify and utilize targeted recruitment websites and recruitment resources for qualified minorities, females, veterans and individuals with disabilities. Post job openings below the executive level, which remain open for more than three days, with the state workforce agency or local employment service delivery system (ESDS) in the state where the opening occurs such as:State Unemployment site (based on work location rather than corporate HQ location)Minority site (e.g. Howard University Alumni).Veteran site (e.g. Navy Marine Career Centers).Disabled site (e.g. Vet Success).Woman site (e.g. Second Chance Employment Services).Rehabilitation site (e.g. Dept. of Veteran Affairs Vocational Rehabilitation and Employment).Only accept electronic resumes. Only accept resumes or “expressions of interest” in response to a job you have posted. Enable individuals to apply for positions via your website or through an email address. Do not accept unsolicited resumes. Ensure each job you are trying to fill has clearly stated “basic qualifications” to allow you to justify why applicants are not considered for a position. Be able to substantiate why job requisitions have defined qualifications. Examples include why a particular number of years of experience, degree or skill set are required, and that whoever is hired meet those defined qualifications. Always ensure you document the reasons for declining candidates. Keeping a copy of the interview notes is an excellent idea. Bundle requisition information. DOL indicates that all requisitions should be independently bundled, with all information about that requisition “stored” together. Bundling allows each requisition to tell a complete story.  The OFCCP’s recruiting requirements are required for federal contractors. Failure to maintain a compliant recruiting program can subject your company to sanctions and fines by the DOL – a fact that your government clients and competitors will be able to discover by reviewing the DOL’s audit and enforcement history ( http://ogesdw.dol.gov/views/data_catalogs.php), which is available on the agency’s website. A compliant recruiting process can be your best defense in a discrimination lawsuit.

For federal contractors, effective recruiting is an essential tool for business success, but it also represents an essential piece of your company’s overall government compliance obligations. Further information about the recruiting process can be found on the OFCCP’s website ( http://www.dol.gov/ofccp/).