Whether you’re looking for a skills tune-up to re-energize your recruiting, or if you are a greener individual to the national security contracting space, there are certain traits that make for the best of cleared recruiters…and of course, traits that make you a terrible one.

Recruiters are salespeople: they are selling candidates a company, their benefits offering, the contract, and a new role. Professionals in the sales world are competitive and personable, and naturally so are cleared recruiters.


  1. They care about the candidate’s interests or motivations to except an offer.
  2. Confidence is key…even if it means selling a top-secret role that you only have a few requirements to go off?
  3. They’re always on or working. And during a telework pandemic, that has never been truer.
  4. They’re subtle. They can’t scare off their secret squirrel candidate that they are trying to wrangle.
  5. They’re resilient, because if they got down on themselves after every rejection, they’d be in the wrong career.
  6. They’re extroverted but could be an extroverted introvert. They can talk to almost anyone, but certainly like to work heads down / alone.
  7. Not only are recruiters’ good listeners, but they also are good at taking social cues (have you ever had a sales rep from a vendor that just wouldn’t take the hint? Good recruiters know when to give-up, but also when to reengage).
  8. Saying that recruiters are multitaskers is an understatement.

Ex-Careers That Make for Great Recruiters

Now, if you thought I was describing a sales-y type of professional above, you’re not far off! Sales and talent acquisition have many similarities, so if you’re feeling stale in one, you can flip flop to the other. Recruiting and sales are both about building relationships and gaining trust, so sales professionals make for a great recruiter.

The second career that fits in well with recruiting isn’t surprising…any veteran who served in the U.S. military. The staffing process is like a high-stakes mission, where you are entering the battlefield with a goal in mind and develop a competitive strategy to win (this could also be applied to sports professionals or athletes). People with this type of experience thrive as recruiters; working hard and playing hard while overcoming challenges with persistence.

Lastly, anyone within the service industry could move in to staffing after working in a high-pressure environment. They have experience engaging people while completing many tasks. This can be channeled into the staffing world with a little bit of a passion to learn something new – and it can lead to a lucrative and satisfying career in defense.



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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! 🇺🇸