Advice on Getting Security Clearances

By Donald Sears  |  Posted 2010-11-30 Print this article Print

There are technology jobs in the Federal government, especially in areas dealing with security. In general, working for Uncle Sam on computer systems means having to obtain security clearances and have detailed background checks.

Criminals need not apply.

Beyond a criminal record, however, expect your financial and psychological background to be opened up for a closer look. The main issue is stability. They are looking for anything that could make you an untrustworthy candidate open to influence and persuasion. Most importantly, they are looking to see if you tell the truth. We all have mistakes, minor infractions and bad decisions in our past that can be reasonably explained. They do not necessarily eliminate you from contention in a Federal job, observed The Wall Street Journal in the Nov. 28 article "How to Get 'Cleared'":

[B]e prepared to explain why you have a drunk-driving conviction or a home foreclosure. No single, minor problem will sink you because most government agencies weigh many different factors.

Deal with any financial issues that suggest you're living beyond your means, including a lot of unsecured debt and credit-card charge-offs. Investigators consider financial instability to be a weakness that can be exploited by foreign powers.

Investigators also will delve into your travel history, criminal and driving records, credit score, Web presence and medical records -- typically to see if you have psychological issues like being bipolar -- says John Mardula, an attorney who handles security clearance cases at Marbury Law Group in Reston, Va. |

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