Recently, ClearanceJobs surveyed candidates on compensation, job and salary satisfaction, and their likelihood of changing jobs in the near future. The findings were surprising, and we’ll be sharing complete results with you soon.

One of the most startling findings was the number of candidates who expressed a willingness to change jobs in the next year. A whopping 84% of currently working security-cleared professionals indicated they were at least “somewhat likely” to change jobs in the coming year. Of those, 36% said they were very likely to change jobs. Not surprisingly, the lower the salary, the higher the likelihood of changing jobs.

This tells us two things:

  • Cleared professionals know they’re in big demand, and they’re ready and willing to make a move for the right opportunity and right salary. In other words, it’s poaching season; and
  • Companies need to focus on retention, making sure their best employees are happy, challenged and paid well.

It’s Poaching Season

The simple truth is that security-clearance professionals are now in the driver’s seat, especially software engineers, java developers, network security experts or anyone with a cloud or AWS certification.

A recent search in the ClearanceJobs database found about 127 candidates with AWS certification in the DC Metro area with a Top Secret, Full Scope polygraph. Average salary – $178,000. And they’re not shy about listing their desired salary either – it’s boldly listed on their profile, unlike many cleared professionals who prefer to be subtle about their salary expectations. According to Forbes, the average salary for individuals with an AWS certification is $125,000 per year – if they’re at the associate level. Add clearance, polygraph and experience – that salary skyrockets. With the JEDI cloud contract right around the corner, and the Pentagon’s recent directive to defense agencies to migrate all their data and applications to milCloud 2.0, demand will continue to outpace the supply of cloud architects.

Top Secret candidates are calling the shots, and a FS poly is a premium. Five years ago, between the government shutdown, budget cuts and the sequester, industry wasn’t doing much business, and defense contractors weren’t hiring. Candidate were plentiful, jobs were scarce. Recruiters could post their jobs, sit back and wait for the applications to come rolling in. But the landscape has changed.

How do I woo thee? Let me count the ways.

You must do “the woo.” What is the woo you ask? It’s putting on your “A” game for candidates. You have to woo them. Think back to your dating days, because it’s true… recruiting has become a dating game. Recruiters and hiring managers are the pursuer, candidates are the pursued.

I can sense eyes rolling, and I get it. When I was a young professional, fresh out of school, I worked diligently on my resume, met with career coaches at my college, networked through associations, prepared beautifully-written and targeted cover letters, and hit the pavement. I knew my place in the world. If I wanted a job, it was my duty to go out and get one.

When did it become a recruiter’s job to impress the candidate? Has the world turned upside down?

Yes – it has. Or at least the defense recruiting landscape has.

The good news is – ClearanceJobs has everything you need to be successful.

  • Ability to see when candidates are logged in? Check.
  • Real-time notifications when passive candidates become active? Check.
  • Instant one-to-one chat? Check.
  • VoIP capabilities? Check.
  • Intuitive searching without relying on a flawless Boolean query? Check.
  • Targeted bulk messaging? Check.
  • Networking in niche groups? Check.

Need a refresher on our features? We can help with that too. We offer training webinars covering everything you need to be successful on our site. Current clients can request a copy of our most recent user training webinar by emailing

With 84% of candidates expressing willingness to make a move – make sure the move they make is to YOUR company, not your competitors. It’s time to put on your “A” game and do the woo, on all levels – internally and externally. Internally, woo your current employees to make sure they stay put; externally, woo the 84% of candidates who are open to hearing about new opportunities. And rest easy, knowing that ClearanceJobs has everything you need to put your “A” game on this poaching season.

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Stephanie Ramm was hired in 2006 to manage ClearanceJobs marketing. Since then, she’s dabbled in everything from event planning to marketing automation to sales training. She's currently the General Manager of ClearanceJobs.