Yes, the role requires clearance, but that doesn’t excuse a lousy job description.
In the defense industry, classified work and roles are often used as an excuse to exclude any information about the day-to-day responsibilities of a candidate. It’s astonishing how many “job descriptions” lack any actual job description. We’ve all seen it—the section titled ‘Responsibilities’ filled with only skills and requirements for the role. That’s just laziness.
A well-crafted job description is crucial in attracting top talent to your organization. While I fully understand and agree that certain information about career opportunities supporting classified programs cannot and should not be shared, it is your responsibility as the employer to provide a bird’s eye view of the tasks this role will be responsible for, without revealing classified information.
When working with programs or missions that require cleared candidates, finding the right balance between providing sufficient information and maintaining confidentiality can be challenging. In this blogpost, we will explore effective strategies to enhance job descriptions by incorporating broad information about your program or mission without crossing the boundaries of classified information.
Start with a Strong Overview
Begin your job description with a compelling overview that highlights the purpose and significance of the program or mission. Focus on its broader goals, potential impact, and alignment with the organization’s mission. By emphasizing the importance of the work without revealing classified details, you can attract candidates who are motivated by the broader objectives and demonstrate their passion for the mission. This is typically public information that touches on the overall objectives, impact, and outcomes of the program that this role supports While mentioning the end client might not be possible, there is often a memorable one-liner that can be provided about the general overview of the program this role supports.
List the Unique Qualities
Lead with selling points that set the role apart and make it interesting, then highlight transferable skills. Additionally, a great job description should paint a clear picture of the team culture to entice candidates to apply. For example, if you are hiring a Reverse Engineer for a Research and Design team in a classified environment, instead of simply stating that, highlight what’s in it for them: “Use your technical expertise to break things and work backwards to find solutions. This is an opportunity to join a team that gets creative and fails nearly every day at work.”
Mention your Team
Touch on the collaborative aspects of your program or mission, letting the candidate know that cooperation and coordination with your team will be necessary. Discuss the cross-functional teams, partnerships, or coordination required to achieve objectives. This will provide candidates with a sense of the broader ecosystem without revealing sensitive operational details. Emphasize the opportunity to work with talented professionals from diverse backgrounds and the potential for knowledge exchange and growth. Answer questions such as: How will the team interact? Is it a geographically dispersed team? Do they meet and collaborate daily or weekly? These details should be addressed in your job description.
Provide Information on Career Development
Highlight the professional growth opportunities and learning experiences associated with the role. Discuss the exposure to cutting-edge technologies, training programs, or the chance to work alongside experts in the field. This can attract candidates who are eager to expand their skill set and advance their careers, even without divulging classified training or development details.
Incorporate Testimonials or Success Stories
Include quotes or testimonials from current or former employees who have worked on similar programs or missions. These testimonials can speak to the excitement, challenges, and overall impact of the work without revealing classified information. Hearing from those who have been part of similar initiatives can help candidates envision themselves in the role and better understand its broader significance. Additionally, if the team has received any type of award or recognition, sharing that information can be exciting.
Crafting an effective job description may require some extra effort to get creative and provide more than just a laundry list of requirements. However, it is a necessary task. In many cases, the job description is the only thing a potential employee sees from your company, and it’s difficult to change that first impression. Job descriptions should be treated as marketing material for your company and brand. With a little effort, you can set yourself lightyears apart from your competition.