At last week’s 2021 ClearanceJobs Connect conference, there were a few themes that rang true among recruiters whether they were coming from out of state, or from large or small companies: 1) national security recruiting is far from easy, and 2) attrition and retention are big problems for talent acquisition professionals in the cleared space.


The great resignation. Many have thrown around the buzzwords but are unsure if it this attrition is happening across the board, and if so, what the reason is behind it.

Attrition is a term used heavily in cleared recruiting that refers to a downsizing workforce. It’s a gradual reduction of employees, probably from a number of factors: burnout from the defense industry, wanting to engage in activities that are federally illegal but legal in certain states, opposing vaccine mandates, general retirement, etc.

With an already shrinking cleared workforce and an increase in cleared positions, recruiters are frustrated and looking for answers. Attrition for a small company can bankrupt an organization. Attrition for an enterprise level contractor can put a dent in your reputation with staffing for your government customers.


When you’re fighting attrition problems, focusing your company recruitment efforts on retention is key – and while there is no one-size-fits all formula, there are ways you can spend time appealing to the right audience instead of wasting your hours chasing the wrong one.

  • Engage with employees: give the individuals in your company a voice by engaging with them often, showing you value them by asking for their insights, or show they are appreciated through recognition (someone recently asked me if people buy recruiters gifts and I laughed, “only as I was leaving an organization, and it was usually a big bottle of bourbon”)
  • Recruit the right people: whether it’s focusing your efforts on targeting people who have been working at the enterprise level but need to get back to their small organization roots in a more management level role, understand what you are able to offer and who you should be offering it to long-term (keep different generational needs in mind here)
  • Onboarding and benefits: onboard for a year instead of a week which will help to keep employees engaged and feel loved. As a part of your benefits, ensure that employees have access to real professional development, and invest in that professional development by promoting from within. Burnout is also a real thing, so make sure “employee benefits” includes wellness, and maybe give employees a random day off or two, even if it means taking a hit on billable hours – it’s better than replacing that burnt-out employee.

Have other ideas? Let me know.



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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! 🇺🇸