Hot Takes in Recruiting 2024 – Security Clearance Edition

It is that time again, The Mount Indie Hot Takes in Security Clearance Recruiting. This year is off to a blazing start, but don’t forget to check out what we said in 2023 in last years edition as well.  

In 2024, candidate response rates will PLUMMET

In security clearance recruiting, connecting with candidates and engaging with them will be more difficult than ever. AI messaging and drip campaigns allow irresponsible recruiting teams to reach out to thousands of candidates at a rapid-fire pace quicker than you can say “don’t spray and pray”. AI and Large Language Models are getting increasingly sophisticated which is pushing the recruiting industry years ahead, but if you thought recruiter messaging was bad before… buckle up.

Response rate is the single point of failure in recruiting and the single most important recruiting metric. After all, You can’t recruit someone you can’t speak to.

Digital Fatigue and Information Overload: In an era dominated by digital communication, candidates are inundated with information from various sources. The constant barrage of emails, messages, and notifications will lead to digital fatigue, causing potential candidates to disengage and make it even more difficult to bring onto your programs.

Changing Communication Preferences: The preferences of job seekers have evolved, influenced by the experiences of the past few years. Remote work and virtual communication have become integral parts of the professional landscape, affect- ing how candidates prefer to be contacted. Tradi- tional methods of outreach may be less effective, necessitating a shift towards more flexible and technologically advanced communication channels. By aligning with candidates’ preferred modes of communication, recruiters can increase the likelihood of eliciting timely and positive responses.

Market Saturation and Increased Competition: As demand for security-cleared professionals intensifies, the market continues to be saturated with job opportunities. Heightened competition for cleared talent results in a deluge of job offers and inquiries for candidates. The increase in demand for cleared talent coupled with a barrage of AI messaging will create a perfect storm resulting in dropping candi- date response rates.

Candidates are already becoming more selective in their responses. The only proof you need to see our compass points north on this prediction is your own inboxes. Get any sales emails lately with similar messaging and frequency patterns?

So, how do you overcome this challenge?

You double down on response rate and it’s importance in your pre-funnel recruiting by focusing on increasing the accuracy in your teams efficiency of their messaging. Connecting with the right people, about the right jobs, at the right time with the right message is an art form and the only way to succeed in recruiting candidates with security clearances in 2024.

This means training on messaging, and not corporate speak, but speaking to the motivations of candidates, which first takes an understanding of candidate psychology and most likely a lot of training.

The risk is that AI technology, in its relentless efficiency, will inundate candidates with an unprecedented volume of messages, contributing to a significant decline in candidates willingness to engage. This makes it imperative for recruiting teams to refine their approach for precision in both search criteria and messaging.

The best recruiting teams are continuously training to stay competitive and effective in today’s cleared market. Focusing on refining skills related to under- standing candidate motivations and effectively communicating the employer value proposition will significantly enhance the quality of messaging and ultimately drive better recruitment outcomes.

Crafting strategic messaging that considers both content and timing is important, and mastering inbox placement can make all the difference between success and failure in recruitment efforts. A common complaint from cleared candidates is they don’t trust the recruiter messaging, they don’t think the job is legit or they don’t feel it matches their skill set. Check out this great article from our friends at ClearanceJobs for more on response rates.

How are you preparing your teams to counteract this in their messaging?

Utilizing analytics to track the performance of recruitment messaging is the first step in continuous improvement. Monitoring metrics such as response rates allows recruiters to assess the effectiveness of their messaging strategies and make data-driven adjustments as needed. Iterating on messaging based on insights gained from analytics leads to more successful recruitment outcomes over time.

By focusing on strategic content creation, timing, inbox optimization, segmentation, and analytcs-driven iteration, recruiters enhance the effective- ness of their messaging and increase their chances of success in attracting and engaging cleared talent.

Additionally, In 2024, the cold call is experiencing a resurgence, and teams that incorporate cold phone outreach into their recruitment strategy will achieve much faster hiring outcomes.

Unmasking the Rise of the Illegal Moonlighter in Cleared Spaces

A concerning trend emerging in the cleared job market, is a growing number of candidates clandestinely hold- ing two positions simultaneously without the knowledge of either employer. This practice, commonly referred to “Over-employed”, not only raises ethical concerns but also runs afoul of federal regulations governing the cleared space. In this section, we shed light on the implications of this rising issue and explore strategies to mitigate the risks associated with the “over-employed” phenomenon.

Can you believe that individuals are simultaneously holding two jobs, leveraging their security clearances, and manipulating timecards for double compensation? Unfortunately, this is on the rise, and what’s more alarming is that taxpayers are bearing the financial burden. While the concept of being “Over-Employed” has traditionally been associated with the commercial sector, it has now infiltrated the Government Contracting (GOVCON) space, prompting serious concerns.

I don’t think we need to go into why this is so concerning, but we can discuss what to look out for. We have adapted and trained our recruiting practice to identify this early in the process and recognize the warning signs. If a candidate is fixated on meeting cadence and inquiring if they are video meetings with camera on, lack availability for background screens, potential inconsistency in resume vs Linkedin profiles, unusual requests for confidentiality, asking that their clearance remain under a certain CAGE code, etc.. We are not saying these are dead giveaways, but warning signs.

The one question we have found gets to the bottom of this quickly is:

If selected for this position, our FSO will immediately take your clearance under our CAGE code and start the CAC issuance process, do you have any issue with this?” Or flat out just asking, “do you intend for this to be your only job?”

Anticipating and implementing robust preventive measures not only safeguards against potential infractions but also fortifies an organization’s integrity and trustworthiness in the eyes of government entities. By taking a preemptive approach to this challenge, businesses can navigate the complexities of the cleared space with resilience, minimizing the risk of losing contracts and maintaining a reputation built on transparency and compliance. For more on this issue, check out what Lindy Kyzer has to say about it.

Offer-Fishing – the worse kind of Sushi

Counter-offers and “Offer Fishing” are expected to become more challenging in the foreseeable future. The anticipated trend includes not only an increase in the frequency of counter-offers but also candidates actively seeking alternative job offers as a strategic move to leverage negotiations with their current employer.

The landscape of recruitment has evolved over the years, introducing challenges that were previously unforeseen. The emergence of Offer-Fishing poses a unique dilemma for Government Contractors, who find them- selves caught between the imperative to fill crucial positions promptly and the potential risks associated with employees leveraging alternative job offers for negotiation.

This bold strategy by candidates puts Government Contractors between a rock and a hard place. The urgency to avoid prolonged vacancies is palpable, as delays in filling critical roles can impact project timelines, deliver- ables, and overall operational efficiency. Moreover, employees are cognizant of this vulnerability, potentially exploiting the situation for their own advantage.

Navigating this delicate balance requires a strategic and nuanced approach. Government Contractors must carefully evaluate candidates not only based on their qualifications but also on their commitment and alignment with the organization’s mission and values and a true understanding of candidate motivations.

This represents a training opportunity that encourages recruiters to build real rapport with candidates and sometimes slow down in a recruiting world where we prioritize speed.

To close out with an encouraging message, it’s essential to emphasize the importance of adapting to these changes and focusing on precision in messaging and candidate engagement. Recruiters should prioritize understanding candidate motivations, refining their approach, and building real rapport with candidates. By doing so, they can navigate these challenges with resilience and drive better recruitment outcomes in the federal space.

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