If you're job hunting, you've probably come across a number of positions that require a security clearance in order for an applicant to be eligible. It's a bit frustrating to continuously come across positions of interest only to find out that you're not qualified, so you start to ask yourself, "Could I better my chances of getting hired somewhere if I was security cleared?" or "Could I be making more money with a security clearance?" Chances are, the answers to both of these questions are 'yes', especially in the tough job market we're in, it never hurts to have a leg up on the competition.
For those reasons, it's not a bad idea to look into getting security cleared. There are so many intelligence studies-oriented jobs available exclusively to security cleared candidates, as well as most government or military positions. If you want to work for the Department of Defense or the Intelligence community (CIA, FBI, et cetera), you do need to go through a somewhat arduous process to get security cleared. Here's what you can expect.
The First Step - Finding a Position / Background Check
If your security cleared job search is successful, the company at which you applied will begin the background check. It'll be much more detailed than any check of references you've had before. They'll look into your criminal history, of course; and other areas you'd never expect such as your credit history, citizenship, and your history. Despite the thoroughness, rest assured that any prior offenses will be considered on a case-by-case basis taking into consideration your age and other factors that may have played into any offenses on your record.
The Second Step - Intensive Clearance Investigation
This is where the background check gets more detailed. During the intensive investigation, people you know will be interviewed about your demeanor which may include neighbors, past coworkers, colleagues, teachers, and more. It's a look into your past from the perspective of outsiders, structured to help the company decide if you're the right fit for a job which requires not discussing private legal matters outside of work.
The Final Step - The Decision
Most background checks, during the final step, go to the Office of Personnel Management. They will then make the decision whether to hire you as a member of the team or not.
Understandably, the background check and security clearance process can be a bit intimidating. For the best possible experience, try searching for an internship that requires a security clearance rather than a job when first starting out. This way, you're cleared before you're ready to actually job hunt and all you have to do is update your clearance. Be sure to follow up with any agency that has considered you for a position so you're not waiting around to hear the results. Research what sorts of questions will be asked during the background check and prepare your answers as best you can. Finally, don't be afraid to dispute a denial for clearance if you feel you have been denied inappropriately.
Stephen Craig is a creative blogger who loves to cook, shop, and play a great game of tennis.