The "tap on the shoulder" is a thing of the past, the head of MI5 has revealed, as he insisted that everyone who wanted to work for the spy agency must apply.
The method has long been used to recruit people to the secret services, from Michael Bettaney, an MI5 agent turned traitor, to Sir Alex Younger, the former head of MI6.
Ken McCallum, director-general of the MI5, was asked about it during a live Q&A session on the security service’s Instagram page on Wednesday.
When asked by a member of the public "does anyone actually ‘apply’ for a job with M15, or is everyone chosen?", Mr McCallum confirmed that there were proper recruitment procedures in place.
He said: "Everyone applies. No one is chosen."
Mr McCallum proceeded to direct those watching to MI5’s website, where there were "lots of opportunities".
During the session, Mr McCallum said that more than 1,000 questions had come in, as people tried to learn more about the service. He also told viewers it was possible to work for MI5 and have a personal life.
"Thousands of our people combine MI5 careers with family life," he said. "I do it myself. Like any employer we recognise we need to be flexible to attract and keep the best people."
Before the Q&A, Richard Moore, the chief of MI6, tweeted that it was "a fantastic initiative" and "a national security first" to host such an event.
Earlier this year MI5 announced that it was to "step out of the shadows" as it joined the social media site.
When Mr McCallum took up the role last year, he said: "If I want one thing to characterise my tenure in this role, it’s for MI5 to open up and reach out in new ways."
One question put to Mr McCallum during the session was how MI5 could remain secretive if it had such a big media presence.
He replied: "Secrets will remain secrets. We are on Instagram to reach people we would love to join MI5 but still rule themselves out."