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Job Seeker Resources - Obtaining a Government Security Clearance

For Job Seekers without clearances, it can be frustrating to see many jobs posted on various media that require clearances. Recruiters handling cleared positions either respond with 'you don't have the requisite clearance' or there is no response at all. It is a bit of a the old chicken and egg dilemma; I can't be considered for the job because I don't have the clearance, and I can't hold the clearance because I don't have the job! Over and over again, the question is raised 'How do I obtain a clearance in the first place?'.

To begin with, the basic requirement for almost all Defense and Intelligence related clearances is that you be a U.S. Citizen. From there things get a little trickier. The more sensative in nature the job is, the higher the level of the clearance will be. As you move up in terms of the level of the clearance, there may be more and more requirements that are added to the process of obtaining the clearance.

In general though, to obtain a goverment security clearance, you must be sponsored for a clearance. The level of clearance you are sponsored for will correspond to the level of clearance you will need to use and will again, have varying levels of requirements as that level goes higher. Any clearance sponsorship will include an investigation where the government 'checks into' your background so they feel comfortable you will be able to maintain the duties and responsibilities that go along with that clearance.

So, who sponsors people for clearances? Corporations, the Military, and the Government itself can all sponsor someone for a clearance. If you would like to try and find a corporation to sponsor you, you would want to keep the following in mind.

- A corporate sponsorship of a candidate for a clearance costs the corporation money, so first off, you will need to have the skills the company is looking for to where they feel confident they can place you in a cleared position when the clearance comes through.

- A clearance sponsorship takes time. Depending on the level of clearance, there are some or many 'checks' that have to be done before a clearance is granted. Once your sponsorship begins, a security officer will be assigned to your case that will conduct these checks. Depending on the level of clearance, it could be anything from a credit and criminal background check, to discovery of your additional information about your background and relationships you have with others. There's no saying exactly what they may check, but know that they will be checking to make sure you are suitable for the clearance. And all of this takes time. Sometimes a clearance can be granted in a month or so, but other times it can take a year or longer to have a clearance granted.

So, what do I do while my clearance is being sponsored? There are a couple of scenarios that could happen while you are being sponsored for a clearance. Sometimes larger companies will have ways they can bring you on board while they are sponsoring you. Perhaps they have some non-cleared work you can do in the mean time, or perhaps they have a training area (sometimes called 'the bench') where you would study and prepare for the work you will be doing when the clearance comes through. It takes tremendous resources for a company to be able to do these types of things, which is why you typically see these types of sponsorships with larger companies.

Smaller companies will sometimes be able to sponsor individuals 'while you wait'. This is where the individual remains with their current employer while the clearance sponsorship is being processed. Then, when the clearance comes through, the individual is brought on to the new company. In this scenario, the expense can be much less to the hiring company as they don't have to carry someone on overhead (as typically an 'on the bench' scenario is).

Keep in mind that if you don't have a clearance and want one, you can always inform a prospective employer that you are willing to wait for a sponsorship to come through if this is the case. This will definitely help your case for consideration with companies that would not be able to keep you on overhead.

Additionally, the goverment and the military can sponsor individuals for clearances. Depending on the position you are seeking, you can inquire as to whether you will be sponsored for a clearance.

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