The Security Clearance Compensation Report is here, and this baby is loaded with data, insights, and trends that we are finding after surveying thousands of cleared candidates. In addition to using the salary data as a market research tool for pricing strategy or to advocate to your hiring managers, here are some other key takeaways that recruiters should keep in mind.

Time to Stop Lowballing

Pay transparency and a lack of candidates usually doesn’t offer cleared recruiters the opportunity to lowball candidates on salaries. Depending on if you are a recruiter whose salary is based on commission, it may not be in your best interest to lowball anyway. But service members who are gaining their first job post military are an easy target since they are not familiar with the salary landscape. In the 2023 survey, we introduced a new section focusing on veterans’ experiences with transitioning from the military. The initial job post-military holds significant weight, with 43% expressing dissatisfaction with the compensation offered. Among various reasons cited, 29% highlighted receiving a lower-than-expected salary as a key factor. Job stability was also a concern, as 66% disclosed leaving their first post-military job within two years, with 28% departing in less than a year. The recruitment, hiring, and onboarding processes incur costs, highlighting the need to align retention strategies with effective recruitment practices.

Contract Recruiters Have Competition with the Government

If hiring wasn’t already competitive with other companies in this sector, add in the federal government or IC agencies hiring direct as your biggest threat.

Compensation increases were widespread, with the biggest rises reported by respondents in 2023 at the NSA and CIA. Both agencies saw double-digit changes in compensation. They have been focusing on enhancing their recruitment processes and providing better support to their current employees. In 2023, the CIA introduced a new hiring portal to streamline the recruitment process and improve candidate engagement. Prior to that, the CIA appointed its first Chief Wellbeing Officer.

This showcases that while you may not be able to compete with government rates, your benefits, work culture, and overall vibe need to be stellar.

Highlighting Mission Impact is Key

As trends evolve, the significance of national security careers and the mission’s importance remain compelling for cleared professionals. Effective recruitment strategies for 2024 and beyond should highlight the stability of serving the federal government and the promising long-term compensation prospects. National security professions provide a unique blend of stability, salary, and purpose. Instead of just chasing the cash, what really revs up the driven crowd in today’s cleared candidate pool is the long-term footprint they leave behind.

Download the report here.


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Katie Helbling is a marketing fanatic that enjoys anything digital, communications, promotions & events. She has 10+ 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! 🇺🇸