When Bradford Rand, founder of TECHEXPO Top Secret, was interviewed on CNN, he explained the hassle of being “cleared.” It was 2002, and the United States had gone to war with Iraq. Rand’s defense contractor clients were begging for smart, dedicated new hires who had previously earned government security clearance.
“It takes six months,” said Rand to his interviewer, “and sometimes longer and over $100,000 to ‘clear’ a person.”
His clients didn’t have the time or the desire to pay to clear current employees.
“So, they would be part of my job fairs and interview security-cleared professionals,” Rand said.
Rand started his clearance-focused job fairs in 2001, after learning about the demand. Eight years into serving as president for his business, he had perfected the process of uniting well-paying employers with qualified, hardworking individuals. All jobseekers participated in his fairs, which featured between 20 and 40 employers, for free. The fairs moved online in 2020 at the height of the COVID-19 pandemic and are continuing virtually for the time being.
However jobseekers choose to participate in the fairs, they can benefit from Rand’s advice:
Do your research
Read the list of employers at the job fair and dig deeper.
“Visit their websites; see what jobs they are advertising. All these companies have a job board within their websites,” said Rand. “Be prepared to interview for one or two jobs that closely match your skillset.”
Looking at the openings before you arrive will give you time to think about how your skills meet the employers’ needs. Once you’re in front of the recruiters, you’ll be ready to make a quick, positive impression.
“They’ll give you a few minutes. You need to be a rock star,” said Rand. “You need to know what you’re talking about.”
Finetune your resume
Your resume must be spot on, Rand added. Share it with colleagues and human resources professionals.
“The people you’re interviewing with need perfection,” he said. “These are programmers and analysts and engineers. If you can’t get your resume right, how are you going to program a missile? You don’t want mistakes.”
Make sure your clearances are included on your resume, too, and place that information near the top.
Meet every recruiter
One of Rand’s biggest pet peeves: Someone who talks with just one employer.
He doesn’t understand why the person would bother to register, spruce up his resume, put on nice clothes, attend, and walk away from dozens of possibilities.
“You never know what you’re going to find,” said Rand. “Stop by every booth. A job might have just opened up that isn’t listed on a company’s website.”
Don’t judge by size either.
“There’s a tremendous amount of opportunity with smaller firms,” he explained. “They may have a more efficient fast track to advancement. If you’re working for a defense contractor with 500 employees, your advancement can be much quicker than working for a larger company.”
“The recent virtual hiring event for polygraphed professionals on June 16th was a great show for the Oracle team! Great candidates, good platform and good communications. We are looking forward to receiving the résumé database for immediate follow up with many of the job seekers that attended.” – Diversity & Military Talent Advisory, Sr. Program Manager, Oracle
Rand is well-versed in professional education: He also serves as president for another self-founded company – Cyber Security Summit USA. He brings together experts for conferences. Participants learn from speakers, see demonstrations of new systems, network with fellow senior-level, cyber security leaders, and earn up to eight CPE (continuing professional education) credits. Instead of planning a multiple-day seminar in one location, Rand hosts several dozen, one-day events a year in various big cities (although they’re virtual for now). The single workday investment allows executives to lessen their time away from the office.
Through his conferences, Rand meets the movers and shakers in cybersecurity, contacts who could assist with TECHEXPO Top Secret job fairs, too, and open doors for jobseekers.
“At this point, we’ve probably helped over 100,000 professionals get new jobs,” said Rand. “We’re transitioning military. It’s not only a good business; it’s a feel-good business, because we’re helping all of these guys and gals get jobs with six figures, because they have a security clearance.”