“Hot Takes” in Cleared Recruiting – 2023 Addition

2023 Hot Takes in Security Clearance Recruiting

Can’t say the news is great,  but in 2023 security clearance recruiting will be as good as you make it. Seriously! This year, plan to lose long term employees and have more offers rejected as any time in the past. In spite of the dreary outlook, the key to success is obvious. It is through doubling down on finding efficiencies in your hiring/recruiting process and start to embrace the staffing nature of GOVCON. Think like a staffing firm. 

Is it quality or quantity…? its QUALITY!…. Wait… Actually it’s both! 

A wise man once told me the key to success in recruiting talent with security clearances is  providing the quantity to enable selectivity leading to quality. I have carried this through my career and in 2023 this is more important than ever. The recruiting funnel needs to be full this year because conversion rates are going to be in the gutter. Recruiting teams should be focused on increasing outbound outreach and leaning heavily on the phones. As “industry pros” continue to lean on “AI” in recruiting, the phone continues to be the quickest way to reach candidates both active and passive. If the sarcasm was not loud in clear, tech is not the answer here it is process and activity. 

Counter Oofer – YES OOFER!

Counteroffer is king! Oh, we are in for a wild one indeed. There is no doubt 2023 is going to be the year of the counteroffer. Companies are getting wise to the fact that even paying a 20% increase in salary beats having a position sit vacant and an upset client. I am not saying this is a long-term strategy, however it is a nice Band-Aid. Just as you would not use a Band-Aid for a bullet wound, the Counteroffer game is not a good solution for the candidate or the company.

If you are trying to hire, you must address counter offers early and often with your candidates as they no doubt be dealing with this. There are many great reasons to not take a counter offer documented online (here are 11 of them to take with a grain of salt) , but every situation is unique. Generally speaking money is not going to change the reason as to why you went looking in the first place.

If you are a company trying to retain talent through a counteroffer, before throwing money at the issue get to the root cause of why the person is leaving. You may uncover sentiment that lives within your organization that you can remediate. Remember more money is not always the answer.

Real benefits on the way!

“We have exceptional benefits” – Translation, you have industry standard benefits that literally every other company is offering.

Look, we may as well have one benefit slick for the entire industry because apples to apples, not much changes. As there is no such thing as a free lunch, and companies are always looking for tax incentives, we might see some real investment in benefits that focus on work-life balance, health and wellness and inclusion.

2023 is going to be the year of expanded and creative benefit offerings. Are expanded benefits going to be the difference maker in 2023 when it comes to accepting offers? Probably not… but it is an easy and smart investment for a company to make and that is why it ended up on our Hot Take list.

Houdini Breaks out of handcuffs

The stay bonus, the signing bonus and the retention bonus will not stop employees from disappearing. We are going to see companies throwing a lot of bonuses around this year with the stipulation the employees have to stay for a certain duration, or they will have to pay it back. Want to predict an issue in attrition? Mark on your calendar the day your pay back periods expire and watch the resignations come in. I think these bonuses are great and retention bonuses are much more welcomed than sign on bonuses, but without throwing money at the problem look internally as to why you are struggling with retention and address underlying issues. Also, nothing makes your current team feel wanted like finding out new hires are getting sign on bonuses and they are getting exactly jack squat.

1,2,3 Jobs!

Well, this one is crazy but Very true. The commercial sector has been seeing a rise in employees taking 2 or 3 full time jobs with different employers. This trend has always been happening, but with the world going remote, many people have been taking advantage and racking up multiple W2’s. I thought there was no way this would make its way over to GOVCON, but IT HAS! If we didn’t have enough to deal with already. I would say more power to you, but this is called fraud!

Employees that try this trend on for size in GOVCON will be met with their clearances being revoked if they are fraudulently filling out their time cards and caught for ethics violations.

Even though there are real risks here, do not put it past candidates to try especially in the Federal Civilian Sector.

Time is at a premium

Ok this one I am happy about, in GOVCON the time a candidate spends in the hiring workflow will decrease this year. Why you ask? Because we literally have no choice but to do this. The old adage “time kills all deals” rings very true here and as competition heats up in the candidate pool, companies are going to start moving very quick. Check out this Podcast with Mount Indie’s very own Casey Talley where she discusses the metrics that help you reduce your time in workflow.


We’re getting a makeover!

If you have been paying attention, you have been seeing a major shift in the way the DOD is building software. A lot of this is due to the insane success of KREL (Kessel Run) and the counterparts it has influenced. Software factories are being seeded and grown throughout the DOD and country and as govies transition out of the military they are building companies that champion the same ethos built in these software factories. If you are not hip to the software factory ecosystem check them out here.

If you were to say these companies appear to have more in common with comic con than the DOD, you would be right! These companies are breaking the mold on what a traditional defense contractor looks like and they are offering incredible perks. Some have even figured out how to decouple their rates from traditional government contracts and go head-to-head with Silicon Valley when it comes to comp.

There is a ton of energy in the space with engineers wanting to “go fast and break stuff” like no time ever before in Govcon. The point? Those unicorns you seek are being drawn to culture filled organizations who are destroying bureaucracy.  So in 2023 we will see more of these niche organizations pop up that are hyper focused on innovation and value.

The major takeaway for 2023 is competition in the security clearance recruiting space is high as ever.  Companies should look at process improvements and reducing the amount of time candidates live in their process. Additionally find value ad vendors with niche capabilities that can deliver recruiting support to your programs. What ever you do, in 2023 it is not business as usual.

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