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How Amazon HQ2 May Impact DC Metro Area Cleared Recruiting

Posted by Rob Riggins

crystal cityAmazon announced its new headquarters will be shared between two areas, Crystal City, VA — possibly now to be called National Landing — and New York City. These two cities will split 50,000 jobs with salaries averaging $150K. While this influx of jobs will considerably benefit the community of Northern Virginia in many respects, residents have equally significant concerns about community resources and the toll this will have on the cost of living, traffic issues, and quality of schools.

Besides ultimately 25,000 new people using the area’s transportation network and looking for homes, the Amazon HQ2 Crystal City decision may also have an effect on cleared recruiting in the DC metro area.

In a survey this week, we asked cleared recruiters and hiring managers what impact the Amazon HQ2 Crystal City decision will have on their recruiting in the DC metro area in coming years. Only 25% of the responses suggested this decision would be positive, with over 70% finding it negative for their future recruiting efforts in the area.

Looking at this announcement as an opportunity for the community, 29% of respondents thought this decision would bring more tech talent to the DC area.

One of our survey respondents commented, “I do see it bringing in more tech talent. However, it will be un-cleared tech talent and with the security clearance backlog so deep we still won’t be able to clear anyone new within a reasonable time frame. The ‘security clearance mess’ doesn’t seem to be important to anyone that can actually make a change or implement a plan.”

15% of respondents think the challenges of security clearance processing will need to be fixed to compete for top talent.

While this could be the case, another respondent added, “I doubt OPM will revamp any processes for just one company…This will be a gradual process, so it won’t impact everything at once.” While this decision will bring significant impacts without a doubt, as one of our cleared recruiters and hiring managers pointed out, it will be gradual. According to the Amazon and Virginia Memorandum of Understanding, Amazon expects to hire 400 people in 2019 and then 1,000 to 3,000 people each following year up to 2030. These new jobs could potentially reach over 37K but it will likely take at least twelve years to reach that figure.

The biggest concern voiced, by 74% of respondents, is that the new headquarters will skim off the best talent from the cleared community.

One of our survey respondents said, “There is a good chance that our cleared talent candidates may decide to go into the commercial marketplace and leave behind the constraints that are associated with holding an active security clearance.”

Mirroring that sentiment, another respondent added, “Even though top talent will come here, I am willing to bet only a small number of them will want to work in the cleared sector when they can make more money working for a private company.”

This concern was closely followed with 50% of respondents believing that labor rates will be even less competitive with private industry.

A respondent commented, “Salaries will rise with competition from employers for the same technical talent. Federal Government rates are lowering so if Amazon is paying high market rate salaries, government consulting firms will have problems hiring.” Another added, “As a service-disabled veteran-owned small business, we fear we will not be able to compete with Amazon in terms of pay, benefits, and opportunities when hiring cleared IT professionals.”

While Amazon’s decision to bring HQ2 to Crystal City is big news for the region, it will take time to see how its arrival will ultimately impact locals and specifically recruiting in the DC metro area. As we wait with anticipation to see how everything turns out, one recruiter shared, “On the bright side many of our Loudoun County IT folks may not want to commute to National Landing.”

This entry was posted on Thursday, November 15, 2018 7:08 pm

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