May 1, 2022

Frequently Asked Questions

Some common questions and answers for employers and job candidates.

Frequently Asked Questions

If you don't see an answer to your question below or in one of our recent posts, please contact us!


For Companies
How do we get started? What information do we need to provide?
When should we contact you?
How much does a search cost?
Do you accept payment in equity?
Do you offer discounted rates?
Why are you different?
"We can do the search internally."
"You found someone in a few days. Why should we pay your full fee for so little work?"
Can you do technical vetting/assessing?
Can you perform credit checks, criminal background checks, etc.?
Do you work with companies/international organizations outside the U.S.?
What if a candidate does not work out? Do you offer refunds/credits/replacements?
Why do your standard terms and conditions include a lookback provision?
What language capabilities do you have?
Are you just going to spam random people on LinkedIn?

For Candidates
Why should I work with you?
Wasn't your team doing this on a volunteer basis before? Why the change?
Why shouldn't I just submit resumes online to all the companies I like?
Do you charge job candidates for your services?
How can I send you my formatted resume in word or .pdf format?
What if you know of the ideal job for me, but that company isn't a paying client?
What skill sets are in most demand right now?
"I'm not any of those..."
"What salary can I expect?"
"Do I have to have a university degree?"
"Do you solicit or do cold outreach to government employees?"
"Do I have to have an approved resume?"
"My approved resume doesn't say anything."
Can I communicate with you over messaging apps, such as Signal or Wickr?
Can I meet with you in person?
Do you recruit for executive level positions?
Do you recruit for entry level positions?
Are your clients recruiting for remote positions?
"How do I know you work with good/reliable companies?"
Do your clients sponsor U.S. visas?

Referral Bonus Program
Can I refer myself?
How long is the referral valid?
How well do I need to know the person I'm referring?
Why do I have to receive an email confirmation code and other information for the referral to be valid?
How/when do I get paid?
Are bonus payments taxed?
What is a "bonus referral code"?
I'm not a U.S. citizen or LPR. Am I eligible to receive a referral bonus?
Do I have to share the referral bonus with the person I'm referring?
Why do you have a provision that says "Task Force Talent reserves the right to reject any referral, and any referral bonus payment, for any reason"?

Companies FAQ

How do we get started? What information do we need to provide?

Simple! Just contact us. If you know exactly what you need, then we'll get started right away once we confirm acceptance of our rates and general terms and conditions. If you are a bit unsure, then we'll set up a time to discuss where you want us to begin looking.

We also recommend reading our post on employer tips for a successful job search.

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When should we contact you?

Generally as early in the process as possible, because we may be able to help you refine your requirements or tell you what kinds of candidates are available. If you are uncertain exactly what skills you want to hire, that's perfectly fine as long as we know that.

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How much does a search cost?

We work on contingency, so you pay nothing unless you hire our job candidate. We then charge industry standard rates for placements.

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Do you accept payment in equity?

👉Change as of September 28, 2021👈

Yes, we are able to take payment in equity, and this might be the best option if you are a startup. Depending on your company's specific situation, this would typically be at the same share price/terms as a recent funding round or at a discount to a future funding round. If you have an LLC, the situation can be somewhat more complex but entirely feasible (and often preferable from a tax point of view.)

The goal in any case is to have the same terms as your most recent (or future) investors and thus minimize legal fees for everyone.

Please note that payment in equity can be immediately taxable to us but the equity may not be liquid for 10 years, if ever. We want our clients to succeed, and yet we have been around long enough to know that most startups fail. Thus, there is a risk premium added for equity transactions.

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Do you offer discounted rates?

Generally, no. Because we work on contingency, we prefer to keep our rates simple and avoid losing time negotiating every engagement individually. If you are a startup, it may be better to discuss full or partial payment in equity.

Some people negotiate because they love negotiating and trying to get "a deal." In those cases, a better question is: "Do you really want a discounted rate?" If so, does that mean that you prioritize your lower paying clients over your higher paying clients in your own business?

We are working on plans for a program that could offer a different pricing structure to repeat clients. This would launch later in 2022. We'll announce that in our newsletter.

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Why are you different?

We have decades of real-world experience actually doing the work.

Domestically and internationally, we've led and built teams, developed and deployed technologies, and—yes—assessed people and skill sets. We've constructed supercomputers as well as climbed up onto radio telescopes and down into supercolliders. We've worked overseas in environments that were incredibly elegant and downright hostile.

As a result of this experience, we developed some amazing access and networks into very specific, hard to reach talent pools: everything from elite universities and industry leaders to "quiet professionals" who aren't found on the internet.

Our technical expertise enables us to have credible conversations with candidates. We'll never ask for 10 years of experience with a technology that has only existed for five.

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"We can do the search internally."

We work in cooperation—not competition—with your internal recruiters and HR teams.

The strengths we bring include the following:

  • Unique access and ability to assess pools of talent with very specific skill sets. Internal personal networks are usually exhausted quickly at a growing company!

  • Significant time savings for internal teams—at zero cost if we do not deliver results.

  • Unbiased, outside assessments of candidates.

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"You found someone in a few days. Why should we pay your full fee for so little work?"

What you didn't see were the hundreds of hours we invested in advance so that we could deliver those results quickly!

For every introduction we make, we may talk to dozens of candidates that aren't a match. Because we are only paid on contingency, we are also assuming all the risk: in some cases we've invested hundreds of hours and provided dozens of extremely qualified candidates, and it still didn't work out because the candidates get better offers or the client went in a different direction or the dozens of other reasons that things can fall through.

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Can you do technical vetting/assessing?

Yes, and assuming we have solid requirements, we do some assessment/due diligence on a candidate's skill set prior to bringing the candidate to the client.

When required, we can arrange more in-depth technical assessments/interviews/skills tests with a substantive expert in the specific field for a fixed charge per assessment. Given the time and expense involved, these types of tests are NOT included in our normal contingency fee.

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Can you perform credit checks, criminal background checks, etc.?

These checks are not included in our normal contingency fee. Contact us for more information if you are interested in this service.

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Do you work with companies/international organizations outside the U.S.?

At the present time, we primarily work with companies headquartered in the United States. On a case by case basis we may work with select international companies (or their U.S. subsidiaries), usually from Canada or Western Europe, where we have industry connections and/or relevant language skills.

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What if a candidate does not work out? Do you offer refunds/credits/replacements?

Our standard terms and conditions offer a pro-rata credit if a candidate is terminated for cause within 90 days. This credit does NOT apply if the candidate is laid of for lack of work of if the candidate resigns because the client had significantly modified job duties or assigned the candidate to a different position.

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Why do your standard terms and conditions include a lookback provision?

This question refers to this part of our standard terms and conditions:

In the event the first year’s compensation of a candidate placed by TASK FORCE TALENT LLC exceeds the estimated compensation upon which the initial fee was based, TASK FORCE TALENT LLC shall be entitled to an additional fee of (AGREED RATE) % of such additional compensation. This additional fee shall be paid no later than 15 months following the candidate’s first day of employment.

The reason we include this is that performance based compensation makes up an increasingly large percentage of the total compensation for the candidates we place, especially for higher end and more in demand skill sets. In some cases, candidates may prefer to have a lower base salary in return for larger bonuses, commissions, equity, or other terms. Startups in particular may offer an artificially low base salary for increased equity or other incentives, especially if the candidate already has significant personal financial resources and can absorb the reduced cash flow.

On the other hand, these types of candidates often require significantly more work for us and are much harder to find. Therefore we have to protect our own investment into this process, particularly since we work on contingency.

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What language capabilities do you have?

Primarily English, French, Spanish, and Italian. If needed, we also have access to Korean and Japanese.

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Are you just going to spam random people on LinkedIn?

The candidates we pursue rarely respond to this type of outreach.


Job Candidate FAQ

Why should I work with you?

  1. There is no downside. You pay nothing, and if we can't find an opening for you, the amount of your time required is minimal.

  2. You are much more likely to get a raise or promotion by changing companies than being promoted internally.

  3. Most people find jobs through people they know. By tapping into our network, we can potentially find opportunities that you never knew existed. Nowhere is this more true than with small companies and startups who have exciting opportunities but are operating in "stealth mode" or not investing in marketing and PR.

  4. Finally, it's important to know your market value.

    • What if there are layoffs?
    • What if your manager is replaced?
    • What if you don't get that promotion that you feel you earned?
    • What if your project is cancelled?
    • What if your company's investors pull a term sheet or other financing falls through?
    • What if you lose a key contract, or a customer has liquidity problems and doesn't pay their bill? Does your company have enough cash flow to survive?

We've been through multiple severe recessions and worked for companies that went bankrupt months after appearing as success stories on the covers of magazines. These things can happen with little warning.

It's not a matter of "if", but "when."

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Wasn't your team doing this on a volunteer basis before? Why the change?

Excellent question!

Yes, several of us have been doing this work for 4-5 years on a purely volunteer basis with great success.

However there were some significant problems. Repeatedly we saw the following pattern develop:

  • Someone contacted us asking for help. We're always happy to help and never said no!
  • We went through our rolodex and identified 10-15 priority leads/contacts. Because it was impossible to manage that many contacts at once, we'd do two or three introductions per week for several weeks.
  • The people we contacted were happy to help because we had existing relationships and personal capital that often allowed us to call in favors where necessary. However, the people we contacted may or may not have had an opening. They may or may not have had some other ideas and contacts. Rarely did anyone say "no"; instead, a lot of things just went into an indefinite holding pattern.
  • In some cases this frustrated people looking for jobs, because there was no clear progress.
  • It frustrated the people trying to help them, because they were waiting for decisions in their own organizations. Furthermore, some people got a lot more calls than others because they worked at a place that was really well known or was doing something really cool. We couldn't call in blind "favors" too often when it was not clear if there was a real opportunity or not.

This "shotgun" approach was sometimes very effective, and other times it was not; however, it certainly did not scale.

Sometimes, the opposite happened, and companies came to us with some sort of requirements. This worked far better! If we knew or found a match, they almost always got an interview! We had a much, much better idea about which "real" jobs were out there, and we didn't burn a lot of time (or goodwill) chasing opportunities that didn't materialize.

It turns out we were also really good at finding specific talent—if we knew what the company wanted, and the company knew what they wanted.

The problem here was that this model didn't scale too well either. Really good searches took enormous amounts of time—sometimes hundreds of hours. It turned out there was a significant opportunity cost, because while doing searches we were not able to execute on other important opportunities and projects.

So now we're formalizing these years of informal help, using the lessons learned and the networks we have built. If we are doing a search, we know the opportunity is real and the company is solid. We don't mind investing the time and being paid only if we are successful because we're confident we can deliver.

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Why shouldn't I just submit resumes online to all the companies I like?

Because 10,000 other people had the same idea, and so no one is ever going to see your resume.

A cold approach rarely works unless you have the perfect set of keywords, possibly the right university, and a good dose of luck. Also, did you know that sometimes advertised jobs aren't actually "real"? There are a dozen reasons for this, ranging from the borderline malicious ("resume harvesting") to the clearly disorganized (lack of internal agreement on who to hire) to the questionably ethical ("representative resumes" for major bids.)

Said another way: the best jobs are never advertised!

We provide warm introductions, based on real relationships, to fill an immediate need, sometimes before the vacancy hits the market. We have an extremely high rate of getting interviews for our Candidates once we have introduced them to a prospective employer.

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Do you charge job candidates for your services?

Absolutely not! Job candidates pay nothing for our help. We only make money if we place you with a company, so our interests are fully aligned.

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How can I send you my formatted resume in word or .pdf format?

You can't. There are too many issues with malware in attachments. We neither accept nor open them.

We accept plain text only via our site, and we will reformat as appropriate for our clients.

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What if you know of the ideal job for me, but that company isn't a paying client?

If we are actively working with you, and we find your dream job or a perfect connection at a company that does not work with us, we'll introduce you anyway, time permitting. We make these kinds of introductions all the time.

Important: Note that we do not pay referral bonuses if we introduce candidates to companies that are not paying clients.

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What skill sets are in most demand right now?

The below list is representative by approximate frequency of openings. Obviously there are fewer openings for more specialized skill sets; however, this is where working with us can pay dividends. We frequently get requests for hard to fill, very specific positions.

  1. Software engineers with security clearances
  2. Software engineers with AI/ML experience
  3. Dev ops or Software engineers with cloud (AWS, Azure, Google cloud) experience
  4. Signal processing engineers (software/hardware)
  5. Cyber threat hunters
  6. Incident response
  7. Cybersecurity analysts (or analysts with foreign language skills that can learn cyber) (no clearance required)
  8. IT experts with security clearances
  9. Experience countering insider threat
  10. Prior government/military with security clearances (variety of jobs)
  11. Experience selling into government organizations/contract capture (especially with an active security clearance.)
  12. Managers (especially in technology fields, to include sales/marketing) who have a strong track record of delivering results.

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"I'm not any of those..."

Don't worry and please contact us! The more specialized your skill set, the more valuable you are to the right company. We can help find that company.

We have a roster of people with very, very specific technical skill sets or language backgrounds and receive those types of inquiries all the time.

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"What salary can I expect?"

This greatly depends on the company and experience. Generally we have an idea of the salary range before making an introduction. However, this can very significantly based on equity or other bonuses.

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"Do I have to have a university degree?"

No! Some of the best engineers and cyber security specialists we know were self-taught and do not have a degree. Others had prior military experience with very specific training.

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"Do you solicit or do cold outreach to government employees?"

As a matter of policy, due to security and fraud concerns, we do not intentionally solicit or conduct cold outreach to current U.S. federal, state, or local government employees, including military. These individuals are free to contact us directly, or we may contact them after receiving a by-name referral.

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"Do I have to have an approved resume?"

If you have a prior government/military/defense contractor background, you may need to have your resume reviewed/approved by your current or former employer.

We invite you to contact us even while waiting for the approval process to discuss your current situation. (Do not send us a non-approved resume, just note that it is in the approval process.)

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"My approved resume doesn't say anything."

We are shocked! (Actually, no we aren't.)

Do not worry about this. We are familiar with this problem and how to properly address it with prospective employers.

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Can I communicate with you over messaging apps, such as Signal or Wickr?

Yes. When you contact us, you can tell us your preferred communications method.

We don't use telegram at the moment, nor do we use non-U.S. apps such as QQ or WeChat.

Note that we don't really trust any of these apps, and neither should you.

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Can I meet with you in person?

Sure, if we have someone on our team in your area or traveling through. We have the most availability in the Washington D.C. - Maryland - Virginia metro area, but New York, Silicon Valley, and a few other places are also possible. Of course, if you are in any of these places, then you'll know how bad the traffic can be, and you'll probably prefer a phone call!

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Do you recruit for executive level positions?

Yes, especially but not exclusively CTO type positions.

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Do you recruit for entry level positions?

In some cases, though this very much depends on the client and the candidate. We may be able to place recent undergradute engineers (especially software engineers) from a handful of top tier universities.

We do not consider Ph.D. placements to be "entry level" and definitely seek these candidates.

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Are your clients recruiting for remote positions?

Generally, yes, if at all possible, with the exception of positions requiring security clearances.

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"How do I know you work with good/reliable companies?"

We vet our companies and generally have personal relationships with them. After you interview and/or accept a new position, we will follow up to get your feedback. We can and do drop companies where we learn of issues, whether there are management problems or our candidates are not treated fairly or professionally in interviews.

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Do your clients sponsor U.S. visas?

This greatly depends. Smaller companies and start-ups generally do not have the time, resources, or interest in sponsoring a U.S. work visa. However, some have overseas offices and want to recruit for those positions.

Generally candidates without valid U.S. visas are less competitive. Foreign students currently in the U.S. are generally more competitive than candidates outside the U.S.


Referral Bonus FAQ

Can I refer myself?

At the present time, you cannot do a self-referral.

The smarter way to do this is that you refer your friend, and they refer you, and you both get better jobs through us. Everyone wins!

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How long is the referral valid?

12 Months, or other date specified in our confirmation email. This is enough time for us to place the candidate and for them to start working, but not so long that the recordkeeping becomes too complex.

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How well do I need to know the person I'm referring?

You should know them, and when we talk to them and say that you sent us the referral, they should recognize your name.

Your referrals should have a high signal to noise ratio.

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Why do I have to receive an email confirmation code and other information for the referral to be valid?

We need to keep very specific records for the bonus program and deconflict referrals, especially if we receive the same name multiple times from multiple people. First come, first served is the simplest way to do this.

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How/when do I get paid?

👉Change as of November 11, 2021👈

You get paid when we get paid. Expect this to be 90-120 days after the candidate starts the new job, plus some time for us to process the payment and get in contact with you to send the check. Your payment may be delayed if the client's payment to us is delayed. (Note: We formerly suggested payment could take place within 30 days; however, we are moving towards client payments at the 90 day mark to eliminate complications with refunds/credits/etc. if the candidate does not work out.)

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Are bonus payments taxed?

Yes, and you are responsible for those taxes. We will send a 1099 or other tax paperwork, as applicable, as directed by our tax advisors.

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I'm not a U.S. citizen or LPR. Am I eligible to receive a referral bonus?

Not at the present time, as we are not in a position to handle the tax or other complications of making these payments in foreign currencies.

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Do I have to share the referral bonus with the person I'm referring?

That's between you and the person you referred. Hopefully they are happy that they have a new job!

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What is a "Bonus referral code"?
From time to time we offer additional bonuses for referrals of certain types or during certain time periods. A good way to receive bonus referral codes is to subscribe to our newsletter.

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Why do you have a provision that says "Task Force Talent reserves the right to reject any referral, and any referral bonus payment, for any reason"?

We assume that someone at some point will try to be "clever" and scam the system. Rather than ruin it for everyone, our lawyers recommended that we include this clause.

It is absolutely in our interest to make these bonus payments! We want to make them for anyone legitimately helping us! However, we aren't going to engage with scammers who violate the spirit of the program.

We also have extremely vicious lawyers, when needed.

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