Are you in interested in finding out more about jobs requiring a security clearance? Find out what you need to know in this exclusive expert interview with Evan Lesser, co-founder and director of ClearanceJobs.com, a service of Dice Holdings.
Security Clearance Eligibility
LoveToKnow (LTK): What factors impact if a person is able to become approved for a security clearance?
Evan Lesser (E.L.): First, it should be noted that Federal security clearances are issued only to U.S. citizens - no exceptions. The most common factors that can potentially result in security clearance denials are financial problems, criminal misconduct and drug or alcohol abuse. The time elapsed since any of these factors was in place, as well as the severity of these factors and what steps the clearance applicant took to correct or seek help to rectify these problems are taken into account. In general, security clearance suitability is based on the "whole person" concept. All factors are weighed in an applicant's background and adjudication is made.
(LTK): How can a person tell if he or she is eligible for a security clearance?
(E.L.): Aside from U.S. citizenship, the government's Adjudicative Guidelines by and large detail what factors can result in a person being designated as unsuitable to hold a security clearance. In general, people with relatively clean financial and legal histories, normal levels of debt, and no drug or alcohol abuse can be awarded clearance.
(LTK): What steps can a person take to improve his or her chances of qualifying for a security clearance job?
(E.L.): Any individual starting the process of obtaining a security clearance can do a few easy things to help ensure the fastest determination. First, they should get a copy of their credit report and fix any discrepancies found. Next, if the individual's debt-to-income ratio is high, making payments to pare down the owed balance can be helpful. Most importantly, candidates for clearance should take the time to understand the investigation and adjudication process. Simply knowing what information is required on the initial forms and the timeframe investigated can help reduce errors that lead to clearance processing delays.
Fields With Security Clearance Requirements
(LTK): Why are security clearances required for some jobs?
(E.L.): Any job where the worker will have access to classified, national security information requires a security clearance. Normally, these jobs are positions directly with the Federal government or one of its contractors, usually supporting U.S. activities in defense, homeland security, intelligence and energy.
(LTK): What are some of the most in-demand professions that require security clearances?
(E.L.): With two ongoing wars and new initiatives in homeland and information security, the need for security-cleared workers to provide products and services to the government continues unabated. Professionals with experience in network security, information assurance, egineering, intelligence and foreign languages can find their pick of open positions. This would include most information technology roles, intelligence analysis, linguists, and engineers from many disciplines.
Getting Hired for Jobs Requiring a Security Clearance
(LTK): How does the process of looking for a job that requires a security clearance differ from searching for other jobs?
(E.L.): Known to those that hold them, security clearances are highly valuable career assets. Clearances can open doors (literally) to job opportunities that the majority of Americans are not authorized to do, and this can mean as much as a 20 percent premium on earnings. With that in mind, cleared candidates must find positions that require security clearance or else they risk losing it. Those workers with security clearance usually utilize niche recruiting services like ClearanceJobs.com to search only for jobs that require clearance. However, due to security concerns, many jobs that require clearance are not listed publicly on the internet. In most cases, recruiting and HR staff working to fill open security clearance jobs often make use of resume database searches to locate potential employees and contact them with opportunities.
(LTK): Are there specific things that employers who hire security cleared professionals look for on resumes and applications?
(E.L.): All employers that hire security-cleared professionals must verify the candidate's clearance details. Regardless of the prospective employee's skills, experience, and certifications, if they do not meet the minimum clearance requirements, they cannot be considered for the job. Employers reviewing resumes tend to look for the listed clearance details first, and then move on to the other information. Aside from clearance details, resumes for cleared jobs should be similar to resumes for non-cleared positions.
(LTK): What can people who want to work in jobs that require a security clearance do to differentiate themselves from other applicants?
(E.L.): While the majority of security clearance jobs require you to have the clearance before you apply, some positions ask that the applicant be "clearable" or able to obtain clearance. For those few positions, appropriate candidates should note specifically that they are willing and able to obtain the clearance. If true, note that your background and finances are in order, and should not prohibit clearance award. In addition, regardless of whether you are a civil servant or working directly for Federal contractors, all jobs that require security clearance have some type of interface with government clients. If people looking for jobs in this sector do have government experience, details should be noted on their resumes.
Special Thanks to Clearance Jobs Expert Evan Lesser
LoveToKnow Jobs would like to thank Evan Lesser for taking time from his busy schedule to share his expertise about jobs requiring a security clearance with readers and wishes continued success to him, ClearanceJobs.com, and the entire family of Dice Holdings websites.