Recruiters have been heavily relying on data since the emergence of data science – it’s something we should’ve been using for decades but there was little to no stress on measuring certain recruiting tasks to see if they were time wasters or a good return on investment.

One report that is rich in recruiting oriented data is the Security Clearance Compensation Report: a yearly offering that surveys around 45,000 security-cleared personnel. It’s easy to see the golden nuggets as a candidate. You will find what locations pay, what certifications matter, what security clearance access should be next on your list to target, and what types of positions create the happiest employees.

However, this is an incredible tool for staffing personnel and talent acquisition specialists alike. You just need to know what you’re looking for.


Obviously, salaries are based upon many factors: location, experience level, whether the position is government, if your proposal team submitted low rates, if you’re the prime or sub, etc. But as you are embedding yourself in the RFP response process and insisting that you are a part of the market research for key personnel / pricing, use this report to show average salaries that are offered for the location or job title. When pricing managers are faced with hard data on what salaries are offered, they will have to accept the fact that their numbers are too low.


Most respondents (82%) reported being with their current employer for five years or less, and 63% said they were with their current employer for two years or less. As millennials and generation Z have entered the national security field and leadership roles, we have seen that they are notorious job hoppers. They like to gain new experiences, diversify their connection pool, and try new things.

Even though respondents who stayed true to their employers past the six year mark saw a 6% higher bump in 2020 than in 2019, there are a large group of candidates who may toy with a new offer if they’ve been with their current employer two or three years.

Be mindful that you’ll be the one experiencing the sinking ship once the employee decides to jump on another offer in the next couple years. But, if you’re finding yourself in a bind with unfilled positions and an unhappy customer, it’s certainly worth it to sign a willing candidate now.


Not every career in national security requires a certification, but if you’re a technical recruiter, you probably touch on IT jobs in the cleared industry that do. The 2021 Security Clearance Compensation Report surveyed for certifications, with half of respondents currently having one. Average total compensation was higher for the respondents who selected at least one certification and the most selected certification was CompTIA Security+.

Certs are important to cleared candidates in this field, and coincidentally, so is finding an employer that will pay for one in their benefits package. Since respondents with a Certified Information Systems Security Professional (CISSP) certification had the highest total compensation ($143,294), you could add this to your benefits package when recruiting lower level IT candidates (i.e. ‘we are willing to pay for your successful CISSP certification after 1-2 years with the company’). Note the data in the report for proof 😊.


Salary is a close second for being the biggest motivating factor for a candidate to accept a new offer (behind work/life balance or flexibility). The easiest way to find those candidates is by targeting lower paying (or higher cost of living) locations, lower paying military branches, or lower paying roles if the candidate can meet the minimum requirements.

Now, that’s only if your pricing proposal didn’t screw you over.

Look at rates for your current openings and see if they are higher than the averages listed in the report. After the National Guard at $87,507, the Army was the lowest paying military branch – so target those branches for service members that will be ETSing in the next few months.

For compensation by role, it’s tough to stretch candidate qualifications that just aren’t there (you aren’t going to be able to magically turn someone from HR into a mechanical engineer). But there are a few that you could negotiate with the customer. So if you find a candidate that is in an administrative role or business support (which came in at the lowest paying gig), see if they are close to graduating with a degree in Computer Science or Data Analytics and are pivoting to fit your technical support role. However, speak with the COR first to ensure you’re not wasting your time.

Access the full 2021 ClearanceJobs Compensation report

The point is think outside the box, but start with looking at the data.

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Katie Keller is a marketing fanatic that enjoys anything digital, communications, promotions & events. She has 8+ 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! 🇺🇸