With military spending up and security clearance processing times still sluggish, it’s a good time to be working as a government contractor. However, if it’s your job to recruit security-cleared talent, things are more complicated. With so many jobs to fill and such long wait times for acquiring a clearance, most recruiters are forced to poach candidates who are already employed. And even once a candidate is wooed from a competitor, it’s hard to hold onto them.

Recruiters Fear Permanent Recruitment Struggles, Poaching

According to a recent survey by ClearanceJobs, recruiters’ biggest fear is that this recruiting environment is here to stay. When asked to rank their fears from “Not worried at all” to “Very worried,” 64% of respondents said that they were either “Worried” or “Very Worried” that the future of cleared recruiting isn’t going to get any easier.

Another prominent fear was of “Losing current employees due to poaching from other recruiters.” 56% of respondents reported being “Worried” or “Very Worried” about this common phenomenon.

Recruiters were also asked if they were concerned about how the difficult recruiting environment is impacting how their work performance is perceived. You can see a complete list of questions and the responses in the table below:

What are your biggest fears as a recruiter? Please rank each from “Not worried in the least” to “Very worried.”

  Not worried in the least Not worried Neutral Mildly worried Very worried

Feeling like the future of recruiting isn’t going to get any easier.


6.08% 11.05% 19.34% 35.36% 28.18%

Losing current employees due to poaching from other recruiters.


6.63% 17.68% 19.34% 30.39% 25.97%

Proving my worth as a recruiter in a challenging marketplace.


12.15% 21.55% 18.23% 33.15% 14.92%

Making my boss understand current marketplace realities and challenges.


10.50% 23.20% 22.65% 26.52% 17.13%

Showing my boss I’m doing good and useful work, despite fewer hires being made.


15.47% 22.65% 18.23% 30.94% 12.71%

Making my boss understand the value of my recruitment marketing efforts.


12.71% 25.41% 28.73% 23.20% 9.94%

Is there a light at the end of the tunnel for cleared recruiters?

Something important to remember is that the current shortage of security-cleared, qualified job candidates isn’t just a “business trend.” Inability to fill or maintain vital positions within government agencies and contractors hurts our nation’s ability to defend itself. Recruiters are on the front lines combating this problem. They are under tremendous pressure and their jobs depend on their ability to make hires. In today’s environment, that’s a tall order.

So what can recruiters do today to make their jobs easier tomorrow? Here are some tips:

  • Start or expand your internship program. This will help engage more young people in your company’s mission, give them real-world experience, and get an early start on processing their security clearances. By the time they’ve graduated, you’ll have a cleared, motivated employee.
  • Build relationships with K-12 schools and universities. By increasing outreach to young people, your company can encourage them to pursue careers in national security. You can also partner with schools to teach and encourage children in the skill areas that the future cleared workforce will need.
  • Maintain your current workforce. The best way to protect your current workforce is to make sure they are happy. When was the last time they received a pay raise? Does your company culture make individuals feel valued and recognized for their contributions? If you can’t pay them more, can you offer other benefits – like continuing education, flexible schedules, or teleworking? And if you don’t know how to make your employees happier – ask them – and be prepared to listen.

Cleared recruiters in today’s marketplace certainly have a tough job on their hands – but they shouldn’t lose sleep. With a little creative thinking, they can build long-term solutions for tomorrow.

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Caroline's background is in public policy, non-profit fundraising, and - oddly enough - park rangering. Though she once dreamed of serving America secretly in the CIA, she's grateful she's gotten to serve America publicly - both through the National Park Service and right here at ClearanceJobs.