Right at the end of the of the “dot-com” bust that started in the late 1990’s, a new internet website went against the grain and chose this inopportune time to launch. It was Wednesday, July 10th 2002 that ClearanceJobs.com first went online. It was less than a week past our country’s July 4th birthday, and the events of 9/11 were still fresh in everyone’s mind. ClearanceJobs.com launched with a mission. Simply put, the goal from day one was to help people find jobs and do what we could to help keep the United States safe and secure.

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A decade since its 2002 launch, the ClearanceJobs website is on the cusp of reaching a half million security-cleared professionals registered on the site. Connecting employers with great cleared talent and providing life-changing career opportunities for security-cleared professionals has been the mission of ClearanceJobs.com for the past ten years. While the look and feel of the site has changed over the years, and new features – such as the Cleared Network – have been added, the heart of ClearanceJobs’ success remains the people who make it the go-to career site for defense industry workers.

In tracing ClearanceJobs’ history, we reached out to the very first job seeker who registered on the site on our Wednesday, July 10, 2012 launch date. Kelvin Nishikawa, the first registered user on ClearanceJobs.com has seen his career evolve over the years, much as ClearanceJobs has evolved to meet the needs of its core audience.

“Ten years ago, I was trying everything I could think of to get my foot in the door at a software company (unsuccessfully),” said Nishikawa. “My resume back then was scattershot and uninformed, I had no professional experience, and I was working retail to pay my way through school.”

Having obtained a security clearance with the Marine Corps Reserves, Nishikawa was looking for a way to parlay his intelligence analyst experience into a career with a software company. Like many veterans, however, the transition from military service to rewarding civilian career isn’t always easy, and it took time for Nishikawa to develop the focus that lead to his current career.

“It may sound cliché, but I’d have to say that following my passion is what lead me to success,” said Nishikawa. “Specifically, focusing on my strengths. Over the past ten years, my résumé has become less a list of everything I’ve heard of or tried and more a description of the few things I enjoy doing at work. Every time I revise it, I judiciously remove the skills and knowledge that I would rather not revisit and refine the details about the specific things I do that align with my self-image as a professional mobile game developer. Now, as a hiring manager I see that focus in your résumé is the detail that makes you a viable candidate.”

Like many new job seekers, moving away from the bottom line was also critical for Nishikawa.

“Most successful people will tell you that following your passion should come first and that money will follow,” said Nishikawa. “As a young person starting your career, this sounds ludicrous and can be very discouraging. 10 years ago, even 5 years ago, it sounded crazy to me.”

Nishikawa found that by focusing on developing skills he was passionate about on his own time, he was later able to parlay those skills into a career. He recommends job seekers find a job that will not monopolize every waking moment. That allows an individual to develop their interests and pursue their aspirations.

“Over time, those things that drive and motivate you will diffuse over your work until you’re simply following your passion and getting paid,” said Nishikawa.

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Lindy Kyzer is the director of content at ClearanceJobs.com. Have a conference, tip, or story idea to share? Email lindy.kyzer@clearancejobs.com. Interested in writing for ClearanceJobs.com? Learn more here.. @LindyKyzer

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