Given the lengthy security clearance processing timelines and the lack of information and transparency about how the process is progressing, applying for a security clearance can feel like tumbling into a black hole. You went in, but will you ever get out? Outside of periodically requesting information from your security officer, recruiter, or human resources professional you’re liaising with for the job, there is also very little an applicant can do once the SF-86 is submitted.
That’s just one of the reasons we created ClearanceJobsBlog – an online forum and discussion site for security officers, background investigators, and security clearance applicants to post questions, comments, and news articles. It has become a place to vent about frustrations and share security clearance victories (because the vast, vast majority of security clearances are eventually granted!)
In the past several weeks, however, several posters at ClearanceJobsBlog have logged in and requested their posts be removed, stating they were concerned their clearance would be denied because they’d ‘complained’ or asked a question.
At face value, it seems ridiculous. But given the fact we here at ClearanceJobs have frequently posted about the use of continuous evaluation and the possibility that your online behavior could have real life consequences – it makes sense to be cautious. But can you really get penalized for asking a question or complaining about a process that – let’s be honest – stinks?
It’s always better to be kind online and not act like a jerk. But if you have a legitimate question – like whether those half a dozen uses of marijuana in college three years ago will impact your clearance chances today (unlikely), or how long you can expect the process to take to adjudicate once your investigation is complete (hard to say), it is okay to post those questions online.
That said, discretion is advisable. That’s just one of the reasons we don’t let posters on ClearanceJobsBlog use their real names. It’s not just because we like to be cute – it’s because being cautious is in our line of business. Thus far the government has been very transparent about the fact that while Security Executive Agent 3 allows the government to search your online postings, they haven’t yet found a truly effective way to do it – particularly for new applicants. And even if you do post something you regret, the security clearance process is still based on the ‘whole person’ concept – that means a single issue (or online posting) won’t result in security clearance denial.
The government, your human resources manager and your security officer are not that thinned skinned as to be upset that you’re looking for information about the security clearance process online. And if they do – maybe that’s a work culture you wouldn’t want to be a part of, anyway.
Much about the clearance process resembles the Pirate’s Code: “more what you’d call guidelines than actual rules.” This case-by-case system is meant to consider the whole person, increase process security, and allow the lowest-risk/highest-need candidates to complete the process. However, it also creates a lot of questions for applicants. For this reason, ClearanceJobs maintains ClearanceJobsBlog.com – a forum where clearance seekers can ask the cleared community for advice on their specific security concerns. Ask CJ explores questions posed on the ClearanceJobs Blog forum,emails received, and comments from this site.