Remote hiring is a product of COVID-19 with defense contractors intending to keep employees safe. Unfortunately, some missions and customers require employees to work directly onsite either full-time, or at least a few days a week.

With the private sector and some lower level access positions allowing candidates to work remotely, how do you attract top talent or incentivize cleared individuals to join your company?


Whether it’s company culture or employee benefits, it’s important to highlight what sets your defense contractor apart from the companies that are able to offer remote work.

1. Offsetting commuting onsite with flexible scheduling

If you are unable to offer telecommuting for specific contracts, check with your DoD customer to see if you can offer flexible scheduling. Whether that’s working the graveyard shift or breaking up the workday between 2-3 timeframes (i.e. 0500-0900, 1200-1500, & 1900-2100), this can be a big incentive to candidates, especially ones with families that work close to their customer site. Even mention to candidates who would commuting opposite traffic (living in DC, but commuting to a client in Alexandria, VA) that where they live would lower commuting time could be an incentive.

2. Offering more Paid Time Off (PTO)

Working remotely is a convenience for employees because they are losing commuting time or are able to handle more chores at home throughout the day. If your company is unable to offer telecommuting, try increasing your PTO offering to set yourself apart from the competition. If you offer 25 days off per year, including sick leave and vacation, try increasing it by another 5 days. Work with your HR staff, as the numbers will be enticing to defense candidates

3. Highlighting company culture

According to a Glassdoor study, 52% of respondents indicated that their #1 incentive to join a company was growth opportunities. Whether you are a small contractor that allows onsite employees to also spend some time on overhead duties like proposal writing, or are a large contractor that allows employees to be promoted within or apply internally for higher level roles, be sure to advertise this on your website or include it in your recruiting spiel when sourcing candidate. Gather testimonials from current employees where this rings true.

4. Health benefits

For the same Glassdoor survey, health benefits was the #3 choice for candidates signing an over with a new company. If you have decent benefits, make that a part of the conversation, letting candidates know that while you are unable to work from home, your family’s health will be taken care of. Talk to management and HR about implementing healthy initiatives like a bonus for folks who visit their PCP, or offering a yearly stipend for employees who make healthy living choices.

5. Get creative

It’s tough competing with companies that are able to offer telecommuting, especially since the security clearance careers world is pretty strict. It’s time to get creative as recruiters, and not only understand what people want, but WHY candidates want those things. Helping with retention, creative benefits not only boost morale, but help candidates visualize something to anticipate. For example, offering something like a sabbatical, shows employees that you value their skillset on contract for the time being, but also value their work / life balance and their needed breaks for the future. Think about offering ‘adventure days’ where employees are paid to go on a socially distanced hike, or sending employees lunch while they have to work in the office.

Look At the Full Package

While attracting top cleared talent, be sure that the benefits your company is offering in place of telecommuting are tailored to the secret squirrel audience you’re recruiting. As a defense recruiter, if you create these benefit offerings (it doesn’t hurt to ask management or HR!) for contracts that you can’t offer remote work on, you’ll better your reputation within this community, establishing yourself as a go-to person.

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Katie Helbling is a marketing fanatic that enjoys anything digital, communications, promotions & events. She has 10+ years in the DoD supporting multiple contractors with recruitment strategy, staffing augmentation, marketing, & communications. Favorite type of beer: IPA. Fave hike: the Grouse Grind, Vancouver, BC. Fave social platform: ClearanceJobs! 🇺🇸