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Recruiting in Top Secret: The Five Rules for Finding Candidates with Security Clearance

April 17, 2020

As if it isn’t hard enough to find a top systems engineer or a wicked smart data scientist, but now you’ve been tasked with finding these same types of candidates and with a top-secret security clearance? That’s beyond the famed purple squirrel or the IQTalent Partners Diamond Candidate. Finding qualified candidates for your security clearance jobs is like looking for a camouflage colored unicorn who is blending in with the landscape of a magical forest! Not only are these candidates with security clearance generally not on traditional social media, but they’re also probably already in a position where they keep it confidential. When it comes to recruiting individuals with security clearance, you need to leverage specialized sourcing and research tools in addition to doing some ‘Sir Arthur Conan Doyle meets Tom Clancy’ quality detective work.

If you’ve got a security clearance candidate search to start, don’t waste your time with a traditional boolean search on LinkedIn or calling your neighbor’s uncle who was in the Army. You’ll want to begin with a specific process and follow these rules to uncover top-secret personnel and bring them into the light of your candidate pipeline.

Begin with a specific process and follow these rules from @IQTalent to uncover top-secret personnel and bring them into the light of your #candidatepipeline.Click to Tweet

Rule 1: LinkedIn Isn’t Going To Cut It.

Candidates with security clearance rarely have a social media presence of any sort. If you are lucky enough to identify a few candidates on LinkedIn who are active duty military or who are in the private sector and appear qualified for the role, they will most likely not list their security clearance in their profile. After all, what’s the point of being Top Secret if it’s not a secret? You can, however, make assumptions based on the company and the candidate’s job function and duties. Read between the lines and do some research:

  • Do roles like this typically require a security clearance?
  • Does the company the candidate works for currently have open positions on their career page where a security clearance is a job requirement?
  • Can you reasonably assume that this candidate most likely has a security clearance at some level to do this particular job for this company?

When you begin your outreach, ask in the first email or phone call if they have a security clearance and at what level. Don’t waste time with a candidate who doesn’t have the right clearance for the role.

Rule 2: Use The Right Tools.

See Rule #1. Searching for candidates on LinkedIn can be futile and require a lot of extra research. We’ve invested in a few tools for finding candidates with security clearance and found that these are the best of the bunch:

Rule 3: Know Your Military Branches, Bases, Units, and Departments of the Government.

Understanding the differences between military branches as well as the varied types of government contractors and different departments of the government will be very helpful in your security clearance recruiting. Are the best candidates for your role in question active or former military? Do they come from the Department of Defense? Are the best fits from the private sector?

Candidates with security clearances can come from a variety of places — research which one might have the most qualified candidates for this specific role.

    • Recognize which military bases are relevant to your client’s projects and seek out their transition assistance programs.
    • Build relationships with military personnel through your outreach. Remember, the first candidate you reach may not be your perfect “camouflage unicorn” candidate, but they have a network of qualified colleagues with security clearances. When they begin to decide to “retire or re-enlist,” you’ll want to be the first person they think of.
    • Government employees are typically visible online, and their contact information is readily available. An educated guess can be made about their security clearance based on where they work in the government (DoD, Intelligence, etc.).
    • Government contractors are typically required to file their information. You can use this information to identify their employees who are not on LinkedIn or other aggregator sites.
@IQTalent explains how to recruit #securityclearance candidates that are under the radar.Click to Tweet

Rule 4: Understand Your Candidate.

Getting to know your candidate and your client is paramount. You’ll want to understand why a candidate would want to work on a certain project and ensure it is a different project from what they are already doing. 

  • Multiple companies can be working on the same project, so you may not be offering your client anything new and different from his/her current role. 
  • Be sure you know your candidate’s security clearance level. 
  • A  candidate could have their clearance level lowered if the job only requires “confidential” clearance, but they have a higher TS or TS/SCI clearance level. Bear in mind that some candidates may not be interested in opportunities below their current clearance. However, the higher the clearance level, the more restrictive a person’s life can be. So, you might find that some candidates may be willing to consider a lower clearance level position to have more personal freedom. Money, location, lifestyle, and opportunity are all factors that could lead to a candidate considering a role with a lower security clearance.

Rule 5: Educate Yourself. Start With These Resources.

If you want to stay at the top of the security clearance recruiting game, you’ll have to remain sharp, speak the language, and keep up with the trends. These resources can help:

Feel like you’ve tried everything, and you still can’t find great candidates for all your open roles? Give us a call; we can help. We’ve been finding IT engineers, VPs of Government Sales, Systems Engineers, and more (all with security clearance) for years, and we’ve got Jack Ryan at the ready to help you. Well, not really, but we have a great team with the skills and tools needed to unearth the incredibly hard to find people with security clearance.

The recruiting you need. When you need it. Contact IQTalent Partners today