Recruiting Candidates With Polygraphs Is Like Executive Headhunting

Recruiting Candidates With Polygraphs Is Like Executive Headhunting

Sourcing and hiring C-level Executives is a storied art, replete with stories of overcoming adversaries (gate-keeping assistants), clandestine meetings, goodie bags proffered (stock options, signing bonuses), and cutthroat dealings with competitors. Skilled practitioners of the art are held in justly high esteem for their ability to produce these rare and valuable candidates.


Consider for a moment the recruitment of candidates possessing Full-Scope Polygraphs to perform on government contracts. The technical requirements for these positions are high; candidates are expected to be just as skilled as their private sector counterparts AND typically must have experience with agency-specific tools and methodologies. College degrees, and in some cases advanced degrees, are typically a firm requirement-no self-made experts allowed. Often a candidate must have experience working for the exact agency where the work is being performed; like experience in another agency will not suffice. Bill rates have contracted, so salaries can be a hurdle. The possession of the Polygraph is the final kicker. The process to obtain one is arduous and the only path to it centers on performing work of a classified nature that makes the clearance necessary. We’re left with a relatively finite pool of candidates with the requisite skills and clearance…and it’s a very small pool.


Under these conditions if you’re charged with recruiting these highly cleared candidates you’ll need to approach them in the same fashion as an Executive Headhunter.

  • Use every sourcing technique in your bag of tricks: become a Boolean master to leverage Google and Bing, dig through every job board you access to, milk your social media network for every lead you can muster.
  • Your networking skills will never be more valuable: in such a small talent pool these candidates invariable know many of their counterparts-find some and leverage those relationships to get to more. Attend events affiliated to the cleared world; many of these candidates move from one contract to the next without ever posting their resume and often their work on classified contracts makes them leery of posting information under any circumstances.
  • Differentiate your company from the field: expand your benefits, advertise how your company culture is unique and compelling, know your competition so the words ring true.
  • Redefine your compensation model: look to creative bonus plans, profit sharing, equity stakes-anything that engages the employee and gives them a vested position in company success. These increases in compensation can pay for themselves through the increased revenue and momentum the new hires generate.
  • Look inside the company and reward generously: engage your existing staff to help find candidates they’d like to get on board and pay out noticeable referral bonuses when they do. Of course, be sure you’re treating your existing staff like gold if you expect them to sell the company in a positive light.
  • Prepare yourself for a long climb. With such a limited pool of candidates the exercise becomes one of layering a foundation brick by recruiting brick.

 None of the preceding is visionary by any means. I welcome input from those who have cracked the code in other ways and have insight to share. In the meanwhile we’ll just keep chasing the clearance world’s version of the sacred C-level.

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Comment by Kathleen Smith on March 11, 2011 at 4:57pm
Doug it is also having a good reputation and having worked in the industry for awhile. Many recruiters think that they can just break into full scope recruiting at the drop of the hat, but don't realize that these elusive individuals are adept at hiding.


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