Do I Have to List a Disgruntled Supervisor on my SF86?

Security Clearance

As you fill out your SF-86, some applicants are surprised to learn you don’t just need to list your employer going back nearly a decade – you have to list your specific supervisor, as well. This creates an awkward situation if your employer was someone you didn’t necessarily get along with – or if you left the position under less than favorable circumstances.

A recent comment at the ClearanceJobsBlog Discussions site asked:

I hate to pass the technical check, criminal and financial checks, and be turned down because a disgruntled former supervisor bad mouth[ed] his/her former employees. Technically, are people considered supervisors if they never performed year-end evaluations on you or was not there long enough?

In today’s job hopping culture, it’s a more common question. What if you can’t even recall the name of a specific supervisor? Or what if you quit a job and know an employer had issues with you – personal or professional? While it may be tempting to leave that individual off of your application, the reality is you’re more likely to extend the time it takes to complete your investigation – or face accusations of personal misconduct – than improve your chances of obtaining a clearance.

If you really can’t remember the name of a former supervisor, it’s a good idea to call your former employer and see if they can look up that information. The more specific names, and accurate addresses and phone numbers you have, the easier the process will be for your background investigator.

And if you truly have a disgruntled background investigator in your past, don’t expect a single bad reference to hurt your clearance chances.

“Any information provided by a source would be corroborated by another source” writes ClearanceJobsBlog moderator Marko Hakamaa. “For the most part, unless there was a written record of misconduct on you or you were terminated due to misconduct the interviews with supervisors generally don’t result in anything that would affect your ability to attain a clearance.”

If your supervisor can corroborate any misconduct issues with personnel files, or if there is a pattern of unhappy employers in your history, it may be worth elaborating on the specific circumstances surrounding the misconduct issues in the ‘additional comments’ section on your SF-86. Regardless of the issue, however, remember passage of time is key. And the ‘whole person‘ concept is designed to ensure a single issue won’t be enough to curtail your career plans.

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