There are two things you can say with almost certainty when it comes to professionals with a top secret security clearance and full-scope polygraph – they’re competitive hires, and they’re security conscious. A professional with a high level security clearance generally knows his or her value on the market is far above average. That individual has also been to enough security screenings to make him or her skeptical about cold calls and unsolicited emails.

For employers, that means there are some obvious challenges to sourcing these candidates. Even if you can find them, you’ll need to make more than a solid first impression to ensure your initial contact actually reads and responds. There are several things worth considering, before, during, and after you approach a person with a full-scope polygraph.

First, don’t expect security-conscious, full-scope poly candidates to care significantly about their public personal brand – or have a publicly-visible personal brand at all. Most intelligence and defense industry professionals are flat out told by their supervisors and security officers not to have profiles on popular social networking sites. Very rarely will you be able to source a full-scope poly candidate via a public social profile you found online. is one of the few places on the Internet where cleared professionals, especially those with full-scope poly, post a full resume and profile – mostly due to the fact that resume profiles on ClearanceJobs and The Cleared Network aren’t shared or searchable to the public.

Second, don’t necessarily expect cleared professionals with a full-scope polygraph to respond to your initial contact – especially if you’re just offering a job. Keep in mind that demand for cleared professionals with full-scope polys outpaces supply. These individuals are used to getting job offers, and they’re used to ignoring them. An unsolicited message will more readily set off red flags of being a potential spear phishing campaign than it will appear a welcomed job offer. Craft carefully worded introductions and be as direct as possible. Be transparent up-front about how you came across the candidate and why he or she is an excellent fit for your opportunity. Most importantly, contact with full-scope poly candidates should be first and foremost about networking – not about job offers. Let candidates know you want to keep in touch with them, and offer your help, knowledge, and expertise when and if they need it. This kind of contact will be far more beneficial than the standard, “come fill my open job, please” email.

Third, base your strategy on more than referral bonuses. Many companies offer up as much as $5,000 for a referral of a full-scope poly candidate who turns into a hire. While that can be a great incentive, it assumes your acquaintances and employees are salespeople and are willing to offer up friends and family for cash. Such referrals are rarely going to happen unless the person they know is actively looking or open to a new position. And in that case you should be able to hire them without a referral bonus program at all.

Leverage the high-quality reputation of your employees a different way – by creating a group of top-tier talent within your company that’s actively engaged in the recruiting process. Regularly meet with these individuals to find out the latest news within the industry – especially if some of your personnel are on site working with other contracting companies. They’ll likely have a good ear to the ground in knowing which workers are happy and who may be willing to make a move.

Involve this team of engineers and professionals within your company early in the recruiting process. Security-conscious candidates will not linger very long in the hiring process if they’re stuck in initial screenings. They want to know what work they’ll be doing, with whom. Your technical experts – ideally some of the top performing full-scope poly professionals in your company – will be the best people to do this.

Finally, intelligence and defense industry professionals with full-scope polys will be just as interested in ensuring you have work that will keep them challenged as they will in a competitive salary. Tweak your position descriptions to make sure they really reflect the kind of work you do, rather than just listing criteria such as certifications and work experience. Sell full-scope poly candidates on a mission, and let them know how they can commit long-term with your company. They’ll be interested in what you can do for them over a career, not just in the next year or two.

To summarize:

    Don’t expect full-scope poly candidates to be on social networking sites – most aren’t.
    Make sure your initial contact doesn’t come across like a spear phishing campaign.
    Leverage existing employees, but not just with referral programs.
    Sell the mission, sell the position, and focus on candidates’ careers.

Most importantly, look to the long-term, and establish relationships with full-scope poly candidates so you are top of their minds when they or their co-workers are back in the job market.

About us: matches job seekers that hold active or current Department of Defense, Department of State, and Department of Energy security clearances to hiring employers and recruiters looking for skilled cleared candidates.

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Lindy Kyzer is the editor of She loves the NISPPAC, social media, and the U.S. military. Have a conference, tip, or story idea to share? Email Interested in writing for Learn more here.