Diverse Strategies to Meet Your Cleared Recruiting Needs

Posted by Ashley Jones

Highly qualified cleared candidates aren’t typically waiting around for a job offer—they’re weighing multiple options. So how can you best identify and compete for talent to fill your positions? Successful cleared recruiting involves an array of steps that require your utmost attention, from preparing job postings and getting candidates to respond, to building relationships that allow you to continually meet your hiring needs. Consider these insights to ensure your cleared recruiting strategies are up to par.

Job Titles and Descriptions

As you prepare to recruit for any position, it’s important that you become familiar with the job and what’s required for success. “Be sure to understand your hiring manager’s most critical needed skills,” urges Carrie Oliver, ClearedJobs.Net Account Manager. “Is there any flexibility on the required skills listed for the position? Which skills are most crucial for the candidate to possess?” As you answer these questions, you’ll be poised to not only write a better job posting, but also to identify the right fit for the position.

When it comes to writing job postings in the cleared community, many are pulled straight from the government contract award. While you can’t change the requirements of the job, you do have some flexibility in how you choose to advertise it. Working in this industry you’ve likely found that it’s not unusual for a position description to inaccurately describe a job. You might have filled this position before. What did they really do? What did they actually need to know to be successful? If leadership allows, consider adding things to the job posting that might be missing that a candidate needs to know.

Furthermore, “Be open to challenging job titles when appropriate,” notes Jon Sisk, ClearedJobs.Net Account Manager. “Instead of Proposal Manager, maybe the job should read, Operations Manager, with the key duties listed around proposal creation and editing. Due to the time and talent crunch most recruiters feel, adjusting job titles and descriptions may help to open things up to new and qualified candidates.”

Also consider including a key words category at the bottom of your job posting. “There are a lot of different terms that describe the same background,” reminds Sara McMurrough, ClearedJobs.Net Account Manager. “Getting those in your keywords can help to capture additional relevant candidates.” For example, when looking for a Software Developer, you might also search for a Software Engineer or Architect. Similarly, “Job seekers search by keywords,” says Sara McMurrough. “So be sure to add other words that are not in your position description that people are going to search for.”

Communicating With Candidates

In a perfect world, you’d have an abundance of qualified candidates applying for your positions, eagerly waiting to hear back from you. However, this is not typically the case. More commonly you’re reaching out to prospective candidates that you’ve sourced, and you’re trying to get them to answer your phone calls and emails, let alone apply for and accept a job. What are you doing to get their attention? What makes you and your company standout to make them want to hear your pitch?

As you make contact, keep three things top of mind: timing, personalization, and building trust.


Timing is everything in this industry. As a cleared recruiter, you’re used to reaching out ‘after hours’ to accommodate personnel working in SCIFs. So continue to “Be open to contacting candidates at ‘odd’ hours,” notes Jon Sisk. “Many may be tied up, away from phone or email in secure facilities during the day. As such, evenings and weekends can serve as a better time to contact these prospects.”

It will also benefit your recruitment efforts to think about timing from an internal standpoint too. “Make sure that your hiring managers are aware of the extremely tight timeline that you are working within,” advises Carrie Oliver. “You are pursuing talent that is in high demand and short supply, and prompt turn-around on the hiring manager’s part is essential!” So whether you’re making yourself available to candidates at optimal hours or getting time sensitive input back from a hiring manager, make sure you’re primed to move the process forward quickly and efficiently.


In some cases you might need to reach out to a passive candidate three times or more before they respond. Don’t be discouraged if you don’t hear back immediately – you might be one of 10 people that reached out to them recently. It helps to “Be specific in your communication and explain why you think they’re a good fit,” explains Sara McMurrough. “Make them feel like they’re not just one of 50 people checked off your list today. Share what captured your attention in their resume and background.”

Show you took time to look at their profile fully—maybe you found something you share in common that you can remark on. This allows you to build a relationship and rapport that goes beyond, ‘I’m the recruiter and you’re the job seeker.’

“Talent is in high demand and short supply—we know it and they know it,” says Jon Sisk. “When reaching out, be specific as to why you feel they are a great candidate. Don’t just say ‘you seem to be a good fit.’ Say something like, ‘I noticed your Linux and C++ experience while working at XYZ Company and thought it would be a good match for our current opportunity.’ Candidates have many suitors and personalization is a great way to make you stand out.”


We often hear about the importance of building trust with the cleared talent pool. But what does that look like and what actions can you take? Trust can take a long time to build but it’s a crucial part of funneling your leads into actual hires. Similar to what we discussed above, be personal in your elevator pitch to prospective candidates and make it less ‘salesy.’ People are more likely to buy from people they like and trust—or in this case, become interested in your employment opportunity.

In large part, building trust comes with forming a relationship. Once you’ve established one, nurture it and don’t let it fall flat. Building trust and growing your talent pipeline will allow you to better meet your immediate needs in the future.

Sourcing Cleared Talent

Building a cleared talent pipeline takes time. Even with a robust pool of applicants to call upon, you will need to continue adding to your network of qualified job seekers throughout your career. Use these three resources to continually find new talent.


Finding cleared talent can be particularly challenging, as most cleared professionals don’t publicize their security clearance on mass job boards or social media channels like LinkedIn. This is why niche job boards like ClearedJobs.Net are especially helpful in identifying and finding the cleared talent you seek. Be sure to optimize your search efforts by crafting Boolean search strings to quickly and effectively source talent.


Meeting face-to-face with numerous cleared candidates all in one place is a great opportunity to screen talent and find your next great hire. Job fairs are a triple win for your investment, offering the chance to meet with prospective candidates, network with other organizations and recruiters, while also increasing your brand awareness and name recognition in the community. Be sure your team is properly prepared to make the most of your job fair return on investment.


Organizations in the cleared recruiting space hire veterans and transitioning military job seekers regularly – and for good reason. With roughly 200,000 veterans transitioning out of the military each year, a successful military hiring strategy can provide long-lasting benefits to cleared employers. So reach out to veterans and transitioning military before their military exit to become a top employment consideration in the eyes of this qualified talent pool.

Building a Talent Pipeline

As you cultivate relationships throughout your cleared recruiting career and add to your talent pipeline, give thought to the candidate experience. Did you take the time to follow up and thank a candidate for applying when they didn’t get hired? “Doing so keeps the lines of communication open and makes them more likely to remember you in the future,” remarks Sara McMurrough. “Take the time to reconnect with these individuals over time. Don’t simply click the congratulations button on LinkedIn, but instead say something genuine—that makes you real.”

So be sure to “Maintain contact with excellent cleared talent,” adds Carrie Oliver. “You may be needing their skills to meet a future requirement.” As we said earlier, timing is everything. Sometimes “no” just means “not now,” so maintain the relationship and follow up next time you have an opportunity suited to the candidate. These individuals are also a great source for referrals, as cleared professionals work alongside other cleared talent. While they might be currently unavailable or better suited for a future opportunity, they may know someone that meets your immediate needs.

As you continue to recruit cleared professionals and add to your ever-expanding talent pipeline, keep these insights in mind. Challenge what you’ve done in the past and reflect on what works best for you. The cleared environment is unique – as are the relationships you’re sure to build.


  • Ashley Jones

    Ashley Jones is ClearedJobs.Net's blog Editor and a cleared job search expert, dedicated to helping security-cleared job seekers and employers navigate job search and recruitment challenges. With in-depth experience assisting cleared job seekers and transitioning military personnel at in-person and virtual Cleared Job Fairs and military base hiring events, Ashley has a deep understanding of the unique needs of the cleared community. She is also the Editor of ClearedJobs.Net's job search podcast, Security Cleared Jobs: Who's Hiring & How.

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This entry was posted on Tuesday, March 17, 2020 11:57 am

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