5 reasons for a national security job


Happy Fourth of July! When you’re not busy eating a hot dog or setting something on fire (or watching a swarm of drones), you might be reflecting on the life, freedom, and career that got you here (or are heading for it). waiting). You there). There is a lot of talk these days about the Great Retirement and the high demand for professionals with specific skills, especially in the technology space. The saying seems to be that with a strong commercial sector, it becomes increasingly difficult to attract new candidates into the talent pool. But working in national security has its own perks — as anyone who’s followed the career field would say. It has something to do with joining the proud few who are willing to answer more than 100 pages of personal information and have their fingerprints taken as part of the application. It’s hard for some to imagine a career other than in national security. And no, it’s not because they’re crazy. That’s because they know there are unique aspects and experiences of working in national security that you literally cannot fully emulate in the private sector.

When I talk about national security, I’m not just referring to military or government jobs. The world of national security encompasses a dedicated community of defense contractors that help support critical missions. There was a time when individuals felt compelled to take one of these paths—but increasingly, you can apply your skills throughout your military, government, and contracting career.

Whether you’re considering government service or feeling the call of the Great Resignation, here are five reasons to pursue or keep a national security job.

1. The mission.

I know, I know. How much more cliche can you get? But it’s true, damn it – you’ll never find a better mission-driven organization than national security. Even companies or agencies plagued by identity crises or growing pains have more mission growing out of their pockets than the average job can produce. If your company isn’t selling you the mission or reminding you of it, maybe it’s time to find an agency or opportunity that does – they abound.

2. The people.

You will never meet better people than those you meet working in national security. In or out of uniform, this is a workforce with character, perspective and a myriad of reasons why they took the leap into a national security career. I had a brief and very unspectacular stint as a GS civilian working for the US Army at the Pentagon. Despite my low rank, position and limited time, I have built a rolodex of contacts that I still rely on today for support, career advice and expertise. I would love for you to find another fellowship where you can devote three years to mission and come back with three decades worth of relationships. High stakes mean deep contacts. Talk to anyone who has worked in or around the field of national security and they are sure to have a cadre of people who love and support them – and who they know have their backs. I challenge you to find the same dynamic in the average finance or hospitality office.

3. Recession-Proof Income.

Everyone likes to beat government for lower salaries than the commercial sector – and this is often the case for highly technical positions. The reality, however, is that data shows that in all occupations (think administration, communications and services) the government often pays more than the private sector. And when it comes to job security, few careers beat national security. Now, I know what you’re thinking if you’ve ever experienced a government shutdown or dealt with the stress of an ongoing run-off budget cycle, but even in those cases — government employees get paid. When COVID-19 struck, Congress passed legislation to ensure licensed contractors could continue to be paid even in remote work environments. The pay isn’t always the highest, but sometimes slow and steady wins the race.

4. Cultural experiences.

That was always a big boost when I worked for the army – the cultural experiences that military service offered were an important refrain in recruitment pushes. I know if you served roll your eyes now but remember I grew up in Iowa so cultural experiences had a different vibe. The national security community has worked hard over the past few years to increase the diversity of its workforce, and while it still lags behind the federal government as a whole, you see growing opportunities for diversity as we broaden out to the national security industry’s broader applicant pool. Once you have entered a national security role, you will see your openness to other cultures and communities increase. Travel is almost a given in national security, even if it’s just for conferences and stateside cooperation. Again, I’ve traveled through more than a dozen states and two countries in my brief Pentagon career. And I learned a new language. They were just acronyms.

5. You can get a job at ClearanceJobs.

Spoilers – I never use articles to talk about how great ClearanceJobs is because if you landed on this page – I trust you will find out eventually. But we’re approaching our 20th anniversary this week, so it’s time to talk about how awesome the site is. As the largest and most robust cleared networking platform for cleared professionals, ClearanceJobs has been the go-to place for a national security career since 2012. For government contractors and a growing number of government agencies, ClearanceJobs.com offers amazing tools to connect national security candidates and employers—all in a secure, password-protected environment. Being part of this niche community requires up-to-date clearance, and even that shows the pull of national security — once inside, it’s often hard to imagine using your skills elsewhere.

The graying of the government workforce is a reality, and the national security community needs an influx of new talent interested in reaping all the benefits that a career in national security has to offer. There is far more than what can be included in this list.


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