By CityTownInfo.com Staff
July 16, 2009
The CIA is mounting a large recruiting campaign targeting college students, former Wall Street employees and anyone with foreign language skills.
"We've really focused on upping our outreach," said Marie Harf, a CIA spokesperson who was quoted in MSNBC.com.
Last year, the agency received 120,000 online job applications and expects to see a 40 to 50 percent increase this year. According to MSNBC, there are currently 90 open positions in various job occupations. "We're looking for everything from analysts and operations officers to linguists, engineers and accountants," Harf noted.
Business professionals in particular are taking notice. National Public Radio reports that one radio ad said the following: "If the quest for the bottom line is just not enough for you, the Central Intelligence Agency has a mission like no other: Join CIA's Directorate of Intelligence and be a part of our global mission as an economic or financial analyst."
The agency's demand for business professionals is in response to the global financial crisis, which U.S. intelligence officials regard as the top security threat facing the nation. NPR notes that financial problems destabilize governments and countries and terrorist groups flirt with economic warfare.
"There's no question that an understanding of the global financial system and how money moves from place to place and sort of the economic motivations of the bad guys that we look at are all important skills that I've been able to transfer from investment banking," said "Alex"--not his real name--who moved to the CIA from a Wall Street firm and now works undercover.
"Susan," another CIA employee who cannot disclose her real name, landed a job at the CIA after applying online while she was in graduate school studying neuroscience. She now works as a research scientist doing work on biological issues.
Applying for work at the agency is not easy. All job seekers need to apply through the agency's Web site and undergo an extensive screening process that can last for months. Applicants can expect a polygraph, psychological testing, medical evaluations, and credit and criminal background checks. And even those employed are subject to periodic security checks throughout their careers.
Moreover, choosing a career with the CIA can be difficult for employees and their families, especially for undercover agents. "You're asking your children to carry a heavy burden of secrecy and shame," Martha Finney, whose father was an undercover case officer for the CIA, told MSNBC.
Pay varies based on education, experience and skills, said Harf. "Starting salaries generally range from about $40,000 to $100,000," she noted. "Incoming officers can receive a hiring bonus of up to $35,000 for foreign language skills."
But those applying to the CIA are usually not motivated by salary and benefits. "The primary thing that attracted me was the impact I could make," Susan told MSNBC. "It puts you close to the forefront of the nation's defense."