It’s a new year, offering a new chance for renewal and a fresh start for your recruiting strategy. The aerospace and defense (A&D) industry expects a busy and challenging year. In a way, it will be more of the same. 

You will identify talent for current and future government contracts vital to modern warfighters and electronic warfare. You will compete for a limited supply of highly in-demand cleared talent. You will quickly find, source, screen, and present qualified candidates at a seemingly impossible pace.

It’s easy to become reactive to the pressures of your role and fall into the same methods you’ve used in the past. It’s time to rethink your approach to your work—it's time to adopt a growth mindset. In this blog, we’ll discuss three benefits to adopting a growth mindset for your A&D recruiting, including tactics for a more efficient talent strategy. 

Why A&D professionals should adopt a growth mindset 

Adopting a growth mindset suggests you change your perspective—where you thrive on the challenges of recruiting cleared talent. At the same time, you are open to discovering and adopting new ways of working that would improve your effectiveness and efficiency. Not change for change’s sake, but change that comes from honest reflection, feedback, and constructive criticism.

The world of cleared talent is governed by secrecy and discretion. People with clearances aren’t expected to publicize their credentials. This is especially true of talent that has the highest clearance levels. A change of perspective turns a limited cleared talent supply from a challenge into an advantage. Think about it. There are a finite number of people with clearances. What if you could identify most of the people that hold those clearances? How would that information impact your recruiting strategy?

1. Better understand your cleared talent needs 

Before changing your methods, you’ll first need to identify your cleared talent needs for the year. Based on internal conversations with your hiring teams, the workforce plan, and pending contract bids, you can determine the types of critical talent that you need to meet the workforce plan.

Utilize talent intelligence 

So how do you identify the supply of cleared talent in each talent segment? This is where talent intelligence becomes essential. Talent intelligence helps you gather intelligence on where to find cleared talent and what will motivate them to engage with you. Talent intelligence mixes external and internal data to provide analytics, insights, and "actionable intelligence." This actionable intelligence data can be discussed in terms of three components: talent marketplace data, internal talent data, and talent sentiment data.

To measure the size of a talent segment, you can turn to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). The BLS publishes information that provides the current size of a talent segment and its projected growth. Once you have determined the size of the talent segment, then you can refine the BLS data with a tool like SeekOut Recruit. Using tools like SeekOut allows you to gather granular data about the external talent marketplace. You can see a talent segment through the lens of skills, jobs, diversity, competitors, geographies, and the type of clearance candidates have based on the job they hold. SeekOut Recruit will also provide a snapshot of your internal team.

Understand why A&D professionals change roles 

Another important piece of data is sentiment data. Commonly thought of as persona information, talent sentiment helps you understand the motivation or drivers that will cause a prospect to change jobs. For example, suppose you were interested in what software engineering talent values. In that case, you could discover technical talent drivers by looking at annual surveys on industry community sites like StackOverflow, Hired, etc. When you compare this external information to internal survey information or company review sites like Glassdoor, you can better understand these drivers. This allows you to describe an authentic talent brand or work culture. 

2. Find and engage more cleared candidates 

When you have a growth mindset, you leverage tools to assist you in your efforts and get creative when sourcing hard-to-find candidates, like cleared talent. This involves aggregating data from several sources of information. 

Externally, you can find social profile information on platforms like SeekOut Recruit. As previously mentioned, this platform provides a central source of truth for your target talent segment. Depending on the target talent segment, you can identify as much as 70% of the target talent audience. The information contains the title, current company, skills, certifications, and inferred clearance based on their job. Additionally, you can see contact information for those prospects. This core information can be augmented with data from resume databases, industry events, professional associations, and previous candidates in your applicant tracking system (ATS). 

A&D organizations don’t always realize that they also have a gold mine of information from previous candidates. Several growth-minded companies are updating their previous candidates using a custom candidate rediscovery process. At SeekOut, we call this Talent Rediscovery

3. Be more strategic with a long-term engagement plan 

A&D organizations with a growth mindset engage cleared candidates in advance of their talent needs. Instead of waiting for a position to open, advertising it, and then waiting for a response, a growth-minded recruiting team uses talent marketplace information to create a strategic talent engagement plan. As you’re building your plan, consider the following strategies. 

Tailor outreach messages to the cleared audience 

A strategic talent engagement plan incorporates talent sentiment information to craft messages that resonate with this target segment.

Focus your outbound efforts  

When you have a growth mindset, you have a sense of urgency—you will have positions to fill immediately. Gartner research estimates that the percentage of talent actively seeking a new role is 26% of a target audience. A focused outbound recruiting campaign (email, text, events, etc.) and an aggressive employee referral program attract active prospects from this cleared talent audience segment. This approach is like targeted advertising, only seen by the talent you are trying to reach.

Build mutual respect with potential candidates

Rather than just focusing on filling roles for the year, consider your needs for the next several years. Since there is a finite group of people in this talent segment, it is a worthwhile investment to create a relationship with this target audience. So instead of running a job ad, consider building your brand presence with this target talent. 

A marketing adage proclaims, “there are riches in the niches.” So, what things can you do to serve this target audience better? Can you sponsor events, meetups, or essential activities for the members of this target audience? Can you provide content that will make your target audience better at their jobs? Encourage your team members to become profession-facing brand ambassadors and engage in the respective technical communities. Cleared recruiting requires more than just dangling a job before a prospect; this talent segment wants to be a part of a larger professional community.

Make a change and see the results 

At its core, a growth mindset is about change. Change that comes from increased resources, removing roadblocks, or automating processes. Change that comes from knowing more about your target talent audience and providing value to them. Change that comes from transparently living out your talent brand as a community member. 

When you have a growth mindset, you take new approaches to familiar challenges. Instead of creatingmore workfor recruiters and expecting improved results, seize the challenge of a hyper-competitive cleared talent marketplace and turn it into a strategic opportunity. A growth mindset differentiates your brand from your A&D competitors, not by drinking the Kool-Aid, but by becoming the Kool-Aid. 

Want to find how SeekOut can help you adopt a growth mindset for your A&D recruiting? Learn more about our A&D solutions or request a demo today.

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