Finding the right mix of experience, skills, and personality is a test for any recruiter, especially those in the defense industry. When it comes to hiring security-cleared candidates for agencies, what makes up that special “secret” sauce? We’ve got the ingredients here.

Agency Experience

The intelligence industry is its own animal, and each agency comes with its own flavor, so try to find a candidate who has experience within the specific offic or organization you’re recruiting for. For instance, if you need workers for an NSA contract, try to find candidates who have worked for the NSA, either as government civilians, industry contractors, or service members. Even having project experience or agency-specific training is a plus.

Good Stewards

From going green to saving green (as in cash) working with intelligence agencies and on government contracts requires an awareness and appreciation for the constraints within government organizations today. Security-cleared candidates who have shown an appreciation for this environment on their resume, and especially those who can back that up with concrete examples of how they saved money and were good stewards of their organization’s dime, are in hot demand.

Cyber Responsibility

Even if you’re not hiring cybersecurity experts everyone needs to be an information warrior in the national security industry. Cyber will be a dimension of nearly every activity going forward, and the best candidates have at least a baseline familiarity with information assurance, and how to protect your intellectual property.

Subject-Matter Experts

Remember that phrase “jack-of-all trades, master of nothing?” Well, it rarely applies to security-cleared professionals and it rarely fits today’s workforce model, where experts are more in-demand than ever. The ideal cleared candidate will show his or her unique expertise, and help you match it with your organization’s needs.

With security-cleared professionals more in demand than ever, finding the right candidate fast is increasingly important. Look for the “secret” sauce and you could find that perfect, lasting fit that will meet your requirements.

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Lindy Kyzer is the director of content at Have a conference, tip, or story idea to share? Email Interested in writing for Learn more here.. @LindyKyzer