Hiring in this labor market is tough. We’ve heard it from recruiters and we get it. Getting younger generations and clearable talent excited about security cleared jobs is something the defense industrial base and government partners have made a priority. But there are some habits and tactics we pick up that can be working against us.

5 Mistakes that make hiring talent difficult

While growing a candidate pool is not easy, there are simple mistakes that companies can avoid that will leave your hiring landscape free of recruiting hurdles.

1. Hiring externally for certain roles or promoting from within for the wrong ones.

Recruiting for external candidates can take longer and cost more, and may indirectly show your employees there isn’t room to be promoted, perhaps making them look elsewhere for a job. Take an honest look at your staff and the requisitions you have available. You may find that it isn’t easy to upskill or train current employees for impossible requirements, but you could see an opportunity to fill a billet with a current employee and staff that open position with an external candidate you have in the pipeline.

2. Relying too much on one piece of the interview process.

Your applicant experience and interviewing process should not be long and drawn out. When talent is passive, application hurdles can cause them to bow out. Make the interview process seamless, only require technical assessments if they are truly required, and don’t hold out on information like salary during negotiations. Quick processes mean hiring a candidate faster, or learning they are just not the best fit and moving on.

3. Overlooking candidates that may not meet all requirements, but have a passion to pivot.

Understanding that government requirements are not easy to change or ask a waiver for (and get approved), make sure you are not overlooking candidates that may actually be a good fit. This means getting insight from people actually working on the program you’re staffing for and really translating skills from past experiences. Heck, one of my best candidates on an intelligence analysis program was actually a former physical security guard, but she was able to train up on classified systems quickly and had the HUMINT experience to add value to the team.

4. Not publishing your salary info.

Even though you may be worries that current employees will jump ship if you list the salary on a newly posted position, establishing pay transparency is the way of the future. Especially in a tight labor market. Some companies who post this information have found that they have received more candidates by adopting the practice, whether they are legally required to or not.

5. Having a homogenous interview panel.

Don’t have time for interview panels because of busy schedules and you are afraid that you will lose your candidate? Think again. Set aside time to do an interview panel and ensure that it is diverse – both in level of employee and even skillset. An interview panel of even three people will show that your company cares about there next hire, and having a diverse one will show that your company is truly one team and not divided by contract.



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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! 🇺🇸