What is “secret clearance”? It’s an intense background check that is often required by jobs for the United States government in restricted positions. In this article, we are going to break down what it is, the different types, how to get it, and how you can prepare for the process.
Need to Skip Ahead?
- What is Security Clearance
- Different Types of Clearance
- Understand the Employment Process for Clearance Jobs
- Get a Professional Evaluation of Your Eligibility
- Prepare a Comprehensive Application
We are NESC Staffing, a nationwide staffing agency that has been hiring people for a variety of positions (including those that require clearance) since 1984.
What is Security Clearance
“Secret clearance” or “security clearance” is the term for a person’s status that allows them to have access to classified government information or restricted areas after they have passed a background screening.
Working in the security sector is a highly valued skill, but it often requires extensive background checks and a top-secret clearance. Fortunately, this complete guide will help you understand what is required to secure a job that requires a secret clearance, how to obtain your clearance and more.
Different Types of Clearance
There are several different levels of security clearance and each type comes with its own access protocols. From top-secret to confidential, the various clearance levels allow for increasing amounts of information to be accessed by the holder and employer. Before you apply for a job with a secret clearance, it is important to understand which type is required to ensure that you have the necessary qualifications to obtain it.
Generally, there are three tiers of clearance levels: confidential, secret, and top-secret. Confidential clearance is often the most common and provides access to information that could cause some damage if disclosed, such as military operational plans or intelligence sources. Secret clearance provides additional access to material such as technologies related to national security initiatives. Top-secret clearance carries the highest level of privilege within this system, granting permission to view and work with incredibly sensitive material related to activities involving the highest stakes in national defense. An individual must have a need-to-know in order to qualify for a security clearance at any level. With secret clearances specifically, background checks must be passed as well as psychological screenings completed.
Understand the Employment Process for Clearance Jobs
Securing a clearance job can involve several steps and often includes an extensive background check process, which may take weeks or even months to complete. During the initial application process, expect to be asked questions about your employment history and the type of clearance you are seeking. From there, employers may require that potential employees undergo additional investigative screenings for their security clearances.
For example, depending on the nature of the job and its security requirements, employers may require a credit check or even a polygraph examination. Other necessary steps may include submitting a criminal background check and obtaining letters of recommendation from past employers. Additionally, applicants applying for secret clearance jobs may need their fingerprints taken to verify and confirm their identity. Once these steps are completed and approved, workers may be granted access to classified information required for their job duties.
Get a Professional Evaluation of Your Eligibility
After you have gathered all of the necessary documentation, it is important to get a professional evaluation of your eligibility for a secret clearance job. This will involve an in-depth look into your employment history, financial records, and criminal background. Obtaining this kind of evaluation can help ensure that you are fully aware of any potential issues that might hinder your clearance process. To complete this step, be prepared to provide detailed information to the evaluator and answer any questions they may pose.
Once the evaluation is complete, you can then begin to submit your paperwork and required documents for verification. This process will be conducted by the security clearance office for the department of government or private company you are applying for. During this step, there may be additional paperwork required as well as further interviews. A professional evaluator can help walk you through the process of submission and answer any questions you may have along the way. Additionally, they can also provide tips on how to make sure all documentation is properly completed and submitted in a timely manner so that your application can be approved quickly.
Prepare a Comprehensive Application
To maximize your chances of success during the secret clearance process, a comprehensive application must be prepared. This should include any personal documents, such as birth certificates or passports, and an employment history listing all positions held in the past seven years, starting with your most recent job. You will also need to provide two references from people who have known you for at least the past five years. Finally, any special skills or training that can improve your qualifications for the position should be included in your application.
In order to obtain a secret clearance for the desired job, you will also need to undergo an extensive background check. This process often begins with a written questionnaire that requests information about your employment history and financial status. You will be expected to provide full disclosure of any criminal records or activities associated with political organizations as part of an effort to protect national security. Additionally, if you have ever lived abroad or traveled internationally, this information must be included in your application. Finally, you will likely have to pass a psychological evaluation in order to receive clearance.
Know What to Expect During Clearance Interviews
If your application is selected for the security clearance process, you will be asked to attend an in-person interview with a member of the security team. The purpose of this interview is to gain further information on your character and to clarify any concerns that have been raised by your references or during background checks. Be prepared to answer questions regarding past relationships, education, family history, foreign contacts and trips, and financial records.
Before the interview, discuss any potential questions with your supervisor or background investigator so that you are not caught off guard during the meeting. Also, it’s important to be as honest and thorough as possible in answering the interviewer’s questions. Failing to provide accurate and complete information will only delay the clearance process or even result in disqualification for the job for which you are applying. Additionally, collect all necessary documentation beforehand that may help support your answers. This can include tax returns, bank statements, local state identification, passport, and driver’s license. Having this information on hand can speed up the process and make getting a secret clearance a smooth experience.
Contact a Staffing Agency with a History of Hiring for Secret Clearance Positions
NESC Staffing has open positions that often require a top-level secret clearance. We have an A+ grade from the Better Business Bureau, were awarded by Forbes as America’s Best Recruiting and Temporary Staffing Firm, and have been successfully putting people to work since 1984. You can see our latest opportunities here or contact us directly for anything that has just come in.