The Best Boolean String for Secret Clearance is Indirect

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This is a guest post from David Galley, Director, Training Programs at Sourcing Certifications.

The #1 question people have when they start sourcing is, “what is the best Boolean string to find the people I am looking for?”

Searching for Secret Clearance is not straightforward, and there’s a significant demand for cleared specialists, especially in the Technology sector.

Sometimes a search is as easy as “I am looking for” “have secret clearance”, and other times it’s sufficient to flip through your favorite thesaurus to find some word variations to develop a monster like this one. But sometimes the key criterion cannot be found with a keyword search, no matter how many ORed variations you include.

Let me paraphrase a perennial example on various recruiting Facebook groups: How do you find people who hold US security clearances (e.g., Secret, Top Secret, TS/SCI, Q, or L)? A search for specific types of clearance, or even the terms “cleared” or “clearance”, finds a tiny fraction of the 4MM actively cleared workforce. Sure, not everyone is on LinkedIn, but even so, the numbers fall short of expectations.

The key to success in this situation is the concept of indirect (aka inferential or implied) search. What evidence can we search for, which implies that the people we find meet the criteria? Let’s start with the idea that there are companies, especially contractors in the intelligence and defense industries, that make active security clearance a prerequisite for specific roles. Whether or not professionals working in those roles list the clearances in online social profiles, we know they must be cleared.

So, which roles and companies are these? An example search path to learn which roles require clearances would be:

Step 1) Find a list of top contractors for the industry (e.g., defense), with a simple Google search list of top defense contractors

Step 2) Pick a list to work from, like this one from Wikipedia

Step 3) Search on job boards with terms relevant to the clearance you need, to learn which roles (and locations) within a given company require them. This search on Indeed active secret clearance company:Lockheed turns up several job ads, including a Senior Mechanical Thermal Engineer in Orlando, FL.

Step 4) Since we now know that Lockheed requires an active Secret clearance for Mechanical/Thermal Engineers in Orlando, we can search on LinkedIn for Thermal Engineers who work at Lockheed, located in the Orlando, Florida Area.

(A search for all Thermal Engineers on LinkedIn who mention “secret” on their profile finds far fewer people!)

Note that you can apply this same process to any search, even ones where direct keyword searches perform well, to discover “stealth” talent that you (and your competitors) may have previously overlooked.

Check out our next Sourcing Webinar – How to Find and Attract Technical Talent – Tuesday, February 18. Register and receive the slides, recording, and a month of support. Seating is limited – sign up now.

(And, we have a Competitive Intelligence webinar in the works. Stay tuned!)

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