There is good news surrounding the security clearance process – it takes fewer days to get a final clearance determination, interim clearances can be granted in a minimum of weeks, and reciprocity times (how long it takes to transfer a clearance) are dropping. That’s opening the door for companies to onboard uncleared talent to help it grow the talent pool. That’s one of the key strategies being used at GDIT, and Lisa Reidy, vice president of security at GDIT recently described the success the company is having at moving new talent into the door and through the clearance process.

We’ve previously discussed that while the overall cleared population is increasing, the number of individuals putting those clearances to use has decreased. While the Great Resignation, graying of the federal workforce, and a move into commercial are all factors, Reidy emphasizes sometimes the problem can seem overblown.

“I don’t think that the impact is as dire as it’s made out to be, and I think that that’s due to the fact that DCSA has had incredible successes in improving the clearance timelines,” said Reidy. “Also, there’s the Trusted Workforce 2.0 efficiencies. So with this marked improvements to the overall clearance quality and processes it allows us to move people into access when we need them and in a timely manner. And because of this industry can take advantage of a greater talent pool by taking advantage of the uncleared population.”

There are still some contracts where a fully adjudicated clearance is required as an aspect of doing the work. But for larger contractors like GDIT, in particular, having a diverse pool of contracts means having some opportunities where there is the time and option to wait for a clearance to be adjudicated.

For those uncleared professionals applying for their first position in national security, it’s important they understand what the process entails – whether they’re students are entry-level employees or mid-level career professionals seeking out their first cleared job.

“It is really important that we educate them…on the clearance process,” said Reidy. “That’s true of anyone coming from the uncleared population. I think knowledge is key.”

Simple steps like filling out the SF-86 correctly can save time and headaches in the clearance application process. The more complete and error free that security clearance application is, the more likely an interim clearance can be obtained – interim clearances allow individuals to start working while they wait for that final clearance determination.

“You can get an interim clearance in a matter weeks, and a final clearance in a matter of months,” said Reidy.

Education isn’t just about the nuts and bolts of the clearance process, but how clearance information is used, stored, and shared, along with the role of a security officer in those processes.

A part of that is “having them feel comfortable that they’re information isn’t spread around the organization, but is used for the purposes of getting a clearance and given to the government for their investigation,” said Reidy. “I say as long as you’re not a threat to anyone, it’s kind of like talking to your priest,” said Reidy. Security officers and human resources professionals take very seriously the privacy of the information they encounter, and work to ensure that it’s used for the purposes it’s intended for. In the case of security clearance processing, the SF-86 data is meant to be a part of the government’s determination for eligibility – not a value or employment decision.

Many people incorrectly fear listing negative information on their applications – thinks like getting fired, or prior drug use. But it’s actually failure to list those things that is generally the bigger issue.

“One of the greatest mitigations is time,” said Reidy. “The clearance process is not a pass fail, It’s looking at the whole person concept. If there is something that happened in your past, and it’s been a long time, and you’re a different person, a lot of times you’ll see that those things are mitigated.

And what about claims that no one wants to work in national security? Reidy emphasizes the old adage of mission first really does apply. There is simply no career experience that can compare to working in national security.

“I think working in a job that requires a clearance is second to none,” said Reidy. “I’ve been in it for more than 25 years. There’s something about the patriotic values, the sense of duty, and the strong feeling of pride that you get. However, I realize that it might not be for everyone, but I think there’s a lot of people who don’t realize they could be a part of that. And maybe they look to the commercial sector because they don’t realize that they couldn’t get a clearance.”

 

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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.