So, McLee comes up with her own techniques. She goes to niche job fairs for qualified applicants, she pumps employees and leads for referrals, and she uses sophisticated online searches to comb the Web for the resumes of professionals with security clearances.
Welcome to the world of companies that are hiring.
TASC is among a group of local businesses eagerly trying to fill spots but, despite higher-than-normal unemployment figures, facing a competitive market. These recruiters find themselves competing with similar firms for experienced talent with coveted clearances that allow them to work on some of the government’s most secretive programs.
[See full Post 200 coverage of TASC here.]
McLee is perfectly suited for the work. Bubbly and friendly, she greets jobseekers with a broad smile and a handshake. Unlike other recruiters at job fairs, McLee, the consummate professional in a pants suit and fresh lipstick, makes sure to introduce herself to and ask questions of each person.
She needs every bit of that charm in her world, where recruiters are battling for employees that in most cases already have jobs. This requires tracking candidates down — rather than waiting for them to come to you — and making a convincing case for your company’s career opportunities, benefits or other desired perks such as tuition assistance. And there’s no guarantee you’ve succeeded until that person starts work, said Dorion Baker, who oversees TASC’s intelligence recruiting.
“A recruiter shouldn’t start celebrating [until] the person’s butt is in the seat,” he said.
Virtually all of the company’s intelligence spots require a security clearance. The government estimates about 4.2 million people have the clearances, which come in different levels and can only be obtained with sponsorship from a government agency or approved contractor. Clearances typically take six months to obtain but the process can take longer.
ClearanceJobs.com, a Web site that provides contractors and federal agencies a centralized way to find candidates, has about 7,500 open positions listed on the site at any time, said Evan Lesser, managing director of the site. But there are likely many more spots available, he said. Some clients, unable to post jobs because of security concerns, instead search the database, which includes 438,000 registered cleared professionals.
These days, TASC’s recruiting office is humming as the company seeks to add staff to defense, intelligence and civilian programs and to compete for proposals.
Take Michael Pollino, a recruiter for a classified intelligence program that he can’t identify because of government restrictions. The program is so big that it consumes all of his time; at any given moment, there are 150 to 200 open spots, all of which require clearances.