If you’re applying for a federal government or government contracting position you likely feel inundated with paperwork. The job application is just the first hurdle you’ll encounter as you head toward employment. All positions with the federal government (including contractor positions) require a completed OF-306 Declaration for Federal Employment. In addition, an SF85 or SF85P is required for public trust positions, and an SF-86 is used for sensitive or national security positions.

The good news is – if you don’t know what type of investigation the job requires, you can figure it out by the type of application you’re required to complete. Many companies require a completed OF-306 before any further paperwork. Why? For some agencies the suitability requirements are more stringent than the actual background investigation requirements. They don’t want to waste their time (or yours) if you’re deemed unsuitable by the agency.

A recent question on the forum asked what the timeline for an OF-306 might be, along with some confusion concerning what type of investigation was being conducted. Forum moderator Marko Hakamaa replied:

“Clearance and Public Trust eligibility are not synonymous! The ONLY form used for public trust is the SF-85P (Questionnaire for Public Trust Positions). The only for used for sensitive or national security positions is the SF-86. All investigation require an OF-306. A submitted investigation with a completed Advanced National Agency Check (NAC) which is a part of all investigations is usually required to be brought on/eligible for issuance of a badge.”

Candidates have even more questions about the clearance process today thanks to OPM’s recent change to Tiers, from the previously titled National Agency Check with Law and Credit Check (NACLC), Access National Agency Check with Inquiries (ANACI) and Single Scope Background Investigation (SSBI). The investigations are now referred to by Tiers. Below is a handy chart from the National Industrial Security Program Policy Advisory Council.

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Lindy Kyzer is the editor of ClearanceJobs.com. She loves the NISPPAC, social media, and the U.S. military. Have a conference, tip, or story idea to share? Email lindy.kyzer@clearancejobs.com. Interested in writing for ClearanceJobs.com? Learn more here.