The cleared recruitment industry is in a perpetual state of evolution. In 2024, government contractors and federal agencies will have to plan new recruitment goals as the job market constantly evolves. Staying ahead of the curve and adapting to the evolving landscape is the key to success.
As the new year begins with a shortage of cleared talent, employers must focus more on retaining their current professionals. As new technologies emerge and more advanced use of AI transforms the hiring process, government contractors will need to adapt to remain competitive and improve hiring quality and speed. Furthermore, the proposed reforms in the security clearance process will bring the clearance process under increased scrutiny.
As a small business in the government marketplace, you can stay ahead of the curve by closely monitoring these trends and adapting your approaches accordingly. Let’s dive in!
What are the Top Cleared Recruitment Trends to Watch Out For in 2024?
1. Increased Scrutiny: Reforms in the Security Clearance Process
The Trusted Workforce 2.0 initiative represents a key development in the clearance processes for government contractors, encompassing significant reforms such as the Personal Vetting Questionnaire (PVQ). This initiative is a comprehensive response to fortify the nation’s security infrastructure, particularly critical in light of incidents like last year’s Jack Teixeira Leak. The PVQ, a crucial element of this initiative, is a procedural update and a strategic enhancement of the clearance process. As part of the Continuous Vetting 2.0 process, the implementation of PVQs is scheduled to take place within the National Background Investigation Services (NBIS) eApplication system by June 2024, marking a significant step in the evolution of national security measures. This move will replace the legacy background investigation and case management IT systems from the Office of Personnel Management (OPM) and the Defense Manpower Data Center (DMDC). As these reforms unfold, government contractors must stay ahead of the curve. To successfully adapt, they must focus on familiarizing themselves with the new PVQ protocols, investing in training their personnel for seamless integration with the NBIS system, and ensuring their internal security measures are robust enough to align with the heightened standards of Trusted Workforce 2.0.
2. Background Investigation Times are Fluctuating
Background Investigation Times, a key concern for candidates and employers, are expected to fluctuate as usual in 2024. Based on recent data from Clearance Jobs spanning from 2021 to 2023, clearance processing times have shown fluctuations, but overall, there has been an improvement. Notably, the investigation time for Secret clearance has gradually declined, reducing from 112 days in 2021 to 100 days in 2023. Similarly, the processing time for Top Secret clearance has also experienced a positive trend, decreasing from 181 days to 170 days during the same period. With the implementation of new security reforms, further enhancements can be expected in the future.
3. Cleared Talent Shortage Continues
There exists a shortage of cleared professionals in the cleared market, a recent survey by Clearance Jobs indicates that 92% of cleared professionals report having a job already, while only 8% of them are unemployed and are actively looking for work every day. There are more positions requiring clearance than there are candidates to fill them. Agencies continue to release new contracts to contractors requiring employees with National Security clearance. This makes recruiting very challenging. Companies will need to retain their own cleared personnel, especially in the light of the fact that the cleared workers who were polled indicated that they were extremely likely to quit their positions in search of better opportunities within the next year.
4. The Rise AI-driven Innovations in Hiring
The recruitment industry is transforming, propelled by the rise of AI-driven innovations. As recruiting firms increasingly integrate AI automation tools into their operational fabric, the hiring process is evolving into a more streamlined and efficient paradigm. Using chatbots, sophisticated resume screeners, and AI-powered platforms has revolutionized how recruiters source and assess potential candidates, carving a path toward significant time savings and enhanced decision-making processes. Outdated approaches to hiring, like relying solely on résumés to evaluate candidates, are gradually fading into obscurity. To successfully navigate this trend, government contractors must proactively engage in comprehensive training programs for their recruitment teams and update their internal processes to align with the new AI-driven standards.
5. The Entry of Gen Z in the Workforce
In 2024, government contractors must adapt their cleared recruitment strategies to attract Generation Z talent (the generation of people born in the late 1990s and early 2000s). This tech-savvy and socially conscious group demands a modern approach: leveraging digital platforms for recruitment, promoting a company culture rooted in social responsibility, and offering flexible work arrangements and career development opportunities. To successfully recruit and retain Gen Z in roles requiring security clearances, contractors must understand and align with their values, blending traditional security protocols with innovative recruitment techniques. This strategic shift is essential for contractors to harness Gen Z’s unique skills and perspectives, ensuring a robust, future-ready workforce in a sensitive security landscape.
6. The Rise of New Recruitment Strategies Adapting to Market Conditions
This year, the focus shifts from traditional recruitment tactics to building a vibrant community and strengthening connections within the industry. Government contractors are enhancing their employer branding and leveraging advanced networking and AI tools to engage not just active job seekers but also passive candidates. These strategies are vital in fostering a dynamic talent pipeline that aligns with the evolving needs of the cleared space.
To prepare for this trend, government contractors should invest in developing a compelling employer brand that resonates with their target audience’s values and aspirations. Additionally, embracing digital platforms for networking and utilizing data analytics for talent acquisition will be crucial. By prioritizing these areas, contractors can effectively navigate the transformed recruitment landscape of 2024, ensuring a competitive edge in attracting and retaining the best talent in the industry. Partnering with specialized cleared recruitment and executive search firms can benefit government contractors.
iQuasar’s Recruitment team offers a unique value proposition: a cost-effective solution for federal contractors to find and recruit highly qualified candidates, including those with various security clearances like Top Secret, Secret, FS Poly, Q Clearance, and more. We achieve this by leveraging our tailored ATS (Applicant Tracking System) and tapping into diverse job boards. With a vast database of over 2 million resumes and backed by two decades of experience, we stay ahead by staying updated on the latest talent acquisition practices and domains. Reach out to us today and discover the difference!