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Jan 7, 2019

As a veteran of the Air Force, and now a sourcer in the recruiting industry, I never discount government websites when trying to find leads for opportunities. My previous experience as an information manager now allows me to use various government sites for immediate and proactive searching, for leads and clients, with great results. I have a few go-to sites I like to use when researching for the particular industries my employer serves.

Contracts & Bids

Civilian companies have products and services that they would like to sell to the government. The federal government is the world’s largest consumer of various products and services in numerous industries. Companies and their employers use various sites for establishing a contract, or to bid for the services they have to offer.


The U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA), which was established by Congress to aid and assist the interest of small business concerns, is a great place to find potential leads. For example, led me to numerous directories for various states. Additionally, you can find members of Chambers of Commerce (typically local business owners belong to their Chamber of Commerce).

Selecting the first result led me to some potential leads. If I am looking for a contracting expert in Missouri for excavations, this search would have led me to someone.

Looking for construction experts or maybe an opportunity for a contractor? Adding “construction” to my original Boolean string returned 285 results.

Example: “construction”

Government Contract & Bids (

I ran across GovCB during a search for start-up companies. GovCB is a site that helps small and medium-sized companies win government contracts. Why would this be useful to someone in the recruiting industry? If you work with the science or technology industry, many companies take part in projects with the government.

Searching for government vendors can help you find leads in your particular industry.


Let’s say I have an opportunity for a C-level staff member with experience in operations and government contract experience, working with utility or energy companies. I choose [221] Utilities, and, a list of 12,334 vendors returned.

I choose South Texas Electric Co-Op and found a potential lead that could be the perfect fit for my opportunity.

I did a second search with an industry in mind for biopharmaceutical vendors, and my results were 19. Again, opening the results led me to potential leads with contact information.

Example for a site search and engineer, using engineer, led me to 7,400 results.


BidNet is another site that gathers US-wide information for federal, state and local government RFPs.

Wanting to find engineers for civil engineering and architectural services contract opportunities, I X-rayed into BidNet to see what leads I could find, and my search yielded 937 records.

Example: engineer

Another result I clicked on led me to an Excel spreadsheet with 35 leads.

Wanting to target Excel documents, I created a filetype Boolean string to X-ray into BidNet.

Example: engineer filetype:xls

My returned results included structural engineers, professional engineers, geological professionals, civil engineers and more.

Freedom of Information Act (FOIA)

When I was in the Air Force, many moons ago, I worked in the records management department. At that time, the records management department was an extraordinarily large room with documents that were maintained until time for disposition. I would often get requests for records from the public for documentation known as an FOIA request. The Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) was enacted in 1967 and provides the public the right to access information from any federal agency.

Many government agencies have leads that could be perfect for an opportunity you may have to fill — for example, the Internal Revenue Service (IRS), Department of Justice (DOJ), Department of Energy (DOE) and the Veterans Affairs (VA). A list of U.S. Government Department and Agencies can be found here

To find a program manager or director who has experience working with the DOE, I would do a Boolean search first in Google to see what could be found.

Example: (“director” OR “program manager”)

My results yielded 45,400 hits, but with additional keywords, I can narrow that down.

Another option before having to do an FOIA request is to go to the FOIA search engine URL and do a keyword search. I decided to see if I could to a filetype search for Excel spreadsheets (which often returns large lists).

Example: DOE filetype:xls

Of course, adding specific keywords pertinent to your particular search will be more targeted. I did find numerous documents which could be useful for my search for DOE leads.

Researching companies that do business with the DOE, and which may be affected by particular software our company recruits for, I completed an FOIA request.

You can find out how to start the process here:

(Please note: This was a proactive search for a project that was expected six-months from when I requested the information from the DOE. If you need immediate data, starting with methods above yields quicker results.)


Locating “purple squirrels” (hidden leads) can be challenging, but with an open mind and taking the road that is off the beaten path, your chances of success are significantly increased.