An issue born out of the current clearance processing delays is the very real possibility the original position you apply to will not still be available by the time your clearance is adjudicated. Here’s a timeline recently published by a visitor to the ClearanceJobs Discussions site:
August 22, 2017- Received job offer with government contractor for position that required TS
August 31, 2017- SF-86 officially submitted
mid-March 2018- A few of my references contacted
March 30, 2018- Subject interview
April 4, 2018- Last reference (that I know of) contacted
May 7, 2018- Was told by FSO that my case was in adjudication (turns out it wasn’t)
June 7, 2018- Background investigator (who interviewed me) tells me my case was reopened (needed more leads/verifiers for unemployment. She took my mom down, but mom was never called anyway.)
June 21, 2018- Background investigator submits my case to “OPM review”
August 6, 2018- Notified that I was successfully adjudicated, and I have TS clearance (GREAT!), but the position I was originally hired for is no longer available (Oh…)
This case actually represents a relatively short processing time for a Top Secret clearance – just one year. The current average clearance processing time for the fastest 90% of cases is 543 days – a year and a half. That doesn’t include the most complicated and slowest cases. But in the case of the above applicant, despite reaching final adjudication, the position was no longer available. While the chances of this happening and a government contractor not having another position to place you into, the good news is, job prospects increase exponentially for an applicant with an active Top Secret clearance versus one who needs to obtain one. The commenter followed up just days later:
I live in the DC area, so there are a TON of positions with various companies, agencies, contractors, consulting firms, etc. in my area looking for people with security clearances. I applied for several, and just accepted a job offer today. I’d rather not say with who. Turned out to be a huge blessing because this job is offering me waaaaay more money than the one that fell through was, and it’s a lot closer to where I live (15 minutes as opposed to an hour and a half).
If you find yourself with a security clearance, but without a job, here are a few tips to help you move seamlessly into your next opportunity:
1. Establish/maintain your career profiles.
Right now, it’s a candidate’s market. That’s why you hear of professionals with an active Top Secret security clearance who are posting their resume and getting an offer within 24 hours. But the job market is always cyclical. Keep an updated career profile – even when you think there is no reason to.
2. Stay on top of your clearance details.
In the case of the individual who posted on the ClearanceJobs Discussions site, it’s clear she maintained careful track of when her clearance was submitted, when her verifiers were contacted, and when her subject interview was conducted. Paying attention throughout the process helps ensure your clearance stays on track. You don’t have control over many aspects of the clearance process, but staying informed is within your power. This ensures your investigation makes it through adjudication.
3. Always be networking.
There is a misconception that networking is just for the unemployed or socially outgoing. It is to everyone’s benefit to maintain a professional network – whether you’re actively job searching or not. Your professional network can help you when you need to land a new job, and help you when you have a career or clearance question.