Most companies rely on specialized pools of potential employees to survive. But many companies these days rely on a specialization that isn’t based on skills, experience or abilities alone; they are seeking something that cannot be trained or taught, they need employees with an active security clearance.
The biggest pool of cleared workers that the private sector taps into is military veterans. Veterans who leave the service with an active clearance are like gold to security firms, law enforcement and intelligence organizations, high-tech and software companies, state and federal government agencies and defense contractors, including several recognizable companies like Raytheon, Northrop Grumman, Boeing, and Lockheed Martin.
This is no small issue for employers; most say that their biggest headache is trying to find technically skilled workers who have an active clearance. This limited pool of available workers means employees with a clearance can demand a higher premium and enjoy job security that employees in general don’t have these days.
One thing that makes employees with clearance so valuable is that obtaining a security clearance is not easy. Clearing employees for sensitive jobs is difficult, expensive, and time consuming. In addition, the process of acquiring a clearance can be intrusive, with investigators examining an applicant's personal relationships, former employers, financial history and lifestyle.
Simply put, hiring those who leave military service and take a clearance with them is the least expensive way to build and maintain a workforce.
The bottom line is that having a clearance can trump education. The general manager of Kelly FedSecure, was quoted by the NY Times. "We have a guy in our database that is 22, he's got one year of junior college and a top-secret clearance," he said. "Now he's an intelligence analyst making six figures. If you have the right clearance and the right skills, you are in an enviable position."
In tough economic times and with the current level of retention in the military, the pool of cleared workers is shrinking giving those with a current security clearance a greater advantage than ever.