If you’re a security-cleared professional, searching for a job presents unique opportunities, and challenges. It’s important to clearly articulate your skills, but at the same time, protect national security secrets and classified information.
Whether you’ve spent a career working in national security or are new to the industry, don’t underestimate the importance of your resume – it’s often your first impression to a potential employer. If you make the mistake of including classified or sensitive information, you can be sure your resume will go to the bottom of the pile, or even put you and the person who receives it in a heap of trouble.
Here’s a rundown of some of the dos, and don’ts, of ensuring your resume isn’t revealing classified information.
1. It’s perfectly okay to specify that you have a clearance, as well as clearance type. It’s also okay to list polygraph information and dates on your resume, according to intelligence agency resume guidelines, including those provided by the National Security Agency. (The Department of Labor even encourages individuals to list their security clearance on their resume).
2. When it comes to offices you worked in, be sure that you’re allowed to list specific locations or facility names – some locations, including the sites of signals intelligence operations or military facilities abroad – may be considered classified, and should not be listed on a resume. In those instances, you will generally need to list a headquarters office location.
3. Project names may also be classified. In these cases it may be possible to describe the type of work you were doing using unclassified descriptions. Don’t assume a project, military location or other details are unclassified or okay to use just because you can find similar information or details online, or through open source channels. Classified or sensitive information is leaked online every day – you don’t need to confirm it by including it on your resume.
4. Speaking about your coworkers, supervisor and office size may also be classified, as well as office budgets. While getting specific is important, when it comes to an intelligence community or defense industry resume there may be times when you’ll need to be vague.
Focus on skills, software or hardware proficiencies or certifications, to fill in gaps where you’re unable to discuss projects. Highlight language skills, overseas experience, and education, as well.
When in doubt, be cautious – it’s not worth the risk to include information that may jeopardize national security. Consider having your human resources department review your resume, if feasible. And always be hesitant to post your resume or clearance information on any forum that isn’t secure, vetted, and password protected. Even if the details you include on your resume aren’t classified, they may open you up to spear phishing and data mining operations, so be cautious in what you post online and only share your resume on a secure site such as ClearanceJobs.com.
Lindy Kyzer is the editor of ClearanceJobs.com. She loves cybersecurity, social media, and the U.S. military. Have a conference, tip, or story idea to share? Email firstname.lastname@example.org.