Security Clearance Job Outlook Strong for 2005

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The number of U.S. workers filing first-time claims for unemployment insurance rose for the second straight week, a government report showed. While new jobs are being created at a slower rate than anticipated, the U.S. security and defense sector stands out as a segment of the workforce that is charting record growth.

New U.S. Department of Defense contracts are being won by information technology, engineering, and security and defense firms on a weekly basis. The vast majority of these jobs require candidates to have a clearance already in place. We are seeing both the quantity and variety of posted jobs increase.

With the national economy on a slow but steady mend, unemployment and new job growth continue to be foremost on the minds of the American public, especially in the shadow of the recent Presidential election. With wars on multiple fronts, an increasing defense budget, and new initiatives in homeland security, the U.S. defense industry continues to buck the slow employment trend by creating new jobs, offering increased salaries, and experiencing fewer outplacements than most other labor markets. In particular, workers with security clearances issued by the U.S. government are in high demand.

A common requirement for employment with the U.S. Department of Defense and its contractors, a security clearance grants screened U.S. citizens access to sensitive information and intelligence. These security clearance jobs range widely in scope. On ClearanceJobs.com, a leading secure internet-based job board specifically for security cleared-candidates, posted jobs vary from electricians and administrative, to network engineers and program managers. Jobs are located worldwide, including hot spots like Iraq and Afghanistan or any foreign country with a U.S. military presence. ClearanceJobs.com co-founder Rachel Staras Lesser states the number of active job postings is up over 200% from this time last year. "New U.S. Department of Defense contracts are being won by information technology, engineering, and security and defense firms on a weekly basis. The vast majority of these jobs require candidates to have a clearance already in place. We are seeing both the quantity and variety of posted jobs increase." The popular job board recently registered its 24,000th job seeker holding a security clearance, and sees more than 1,500 new job seekers register each month.

Defense industry employers are finding specialized services like ClearanceJobs.com and job fairs restricted only for cleared candidates to be invaluable in their search for new employees. Although responsibility for clearance investigations has recently been handed from the Defense Security Service to the Office of Personnel Management, it can still take up to two years for an uncleared individual to receive security clearance from the point of initial adjudication. The number of candidates awaiting clearances was recently recorded at over 400,000, effectively putting many government contracts on hold until the security-cleared personnel can be hired.

This "clearance backlog" has forced government contracting companies to find new and unique methods of recruitment like ClearanceJobs.com, and search firms specialized for the defense industry. Kelly Services saw this need and acquired The FedSecure Group in late 2003 and operates it today as a separate business unit exclusively focused on the placement of cleared personnel. Kelly FedSecure (http://www.kellyfedsecure.com), has subsequently become the leader in security clearance staffing. “To supplement the significant investments we’ve made in infrastructure and our unique networking capabilities, we utilize ClearanceJobs.com as one of our sources,” says Richard Piske, Vice President/General Manager of Kelly FedSecure. “The people with the right clearances are immediately employable. Furthermore, candidates with good tech skills and the higher level clearances can earn thousands of dollars more per year than their non-cleared counterparts.”

While many civilians have active security clearances, people transitioning from military service make up a majority of the cleared workforce. Aside from the value of their security clearances, many employers are finding military veterans to be a solid fit in their organizations. Randall Scasny, Director of MilitaryJobHunts.com maintains, "Vets can increase your revenues, decrease your costs, improve your customer relationships, and improve your productivity. All these factors add to an employer's ROI. In an age where companies are driven to satisfy shareholders' expectations and improve the bottom-line, the choice of hiring a vet just makes economic sense." It is estimated that 10 million veterans are currently in the U.S. workforce, and as many as 200,000 active duty military will transition out of the service in the next twelve months.

For 2005, defense industry analysts project security-cleared job seekers to be in even greater demand as employers compete for new government contracts. Although information technology positions dominate the most pressing needs, companies utilizing popular internet-based job boards like ClearanceJobs.com will seek a greater variety of skill sets this year. Job postings for logistics professionals, intelligence analysts, linguists and subject matter experts have doubled in the past six months alone and show signs of increase. As companies that never worked with the government start to see the opportunities that exist, defense industry employers are naturally seeking cleared contract administrators, government services salespeople, and new business development experts in record numbers.

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