It’s tough to compete with the long list of defense contractors in cleared recruiting, especially if they are offering attractive remote work opportunities with occasional travel, and all you have are the SCIF roles with covered windows to the outside world. Remote hiring is a product of the national security world still working efficiently out of the office during the pandemic, but unfortunately, some missions and customers require employees to work directly onsite either full-time, or at least a few days a week.

Loopholes for Offering Higher Rates

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? It usually comes down to offering more flexibility or more money.

1. PTO Trade-in Program.

Some innovative start-ups have programs that purchase their employees’ unused paid time off, rather than rolling it over. Similar to programs that allow you to collect points and redeem them for rewards, you would be able to convert your unused time into cash, or a higher salary.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, about 436 million days are carried over each year, but about 222 million vacation days are lost completely. This is usually a good thing for organizations, as that benefit isn’t usually cashed in by employees, but what if it’s the difference between a billet being filled or lost to a competitor?

So, your hiring manager may be reluctant to implement such a program since employees usually don’t use all their PTO/vacation time. A trade-in program would be a higher cost to the company. But one thing you can highlight, is that the cost is worth it if you are losing money on a cleared billet remaining vacant.

2. Veterans Waiving Medical Benefits.

Naturally, you are recruiting many veterans from the armed services in the cleared arena. As recruiters, this can be a huge negotiating point in the hiring process. Most veterans opt in for Tricare for their individual or family medical benefits (usually just requiring dental or vision from their employer). If you look at what medical benefits cost a company, it can be an exorbitant amount if it’s for an entire family! If you know a candidate is a veteran, ask if they would be requiring medical benefits, and let them know you may be able to increase their yearly salary by 5-10K if they waive them. Work with your controller, or finance team to develop the different pricing scenarios for each position, so you can advertise the perk as well.

This can also apply to employees who waive medical benefits due to having them under a domestic partner or spouse’s employer.

3. Volunteer Recruitment Programs

You’ve heard of referral bonuses or retention bonuses which are great cash benefits to tout to your cleared candidates. Another program to consider adding to the list are volunteer recruiting programs where employees are eligible for recruiting commissions.

If you have hard to fill positions, highlight that employees can gain a new skill (sourcing, interviewing, recruiting, etc.) while make a little bit of extra money on the side. Any employee can be eligible for a volunteer recruiting ambassador, so long as the duties are completed outside of their original job description / contract work.

While attracting cleared talent, ensure that the benefits your company is offering in place of remote work is tailored to the secret squirrel audience you’re trying to recruit – if salary is the ticket, use these creative loopholes to offer high rates.



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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! 🇺🇸