Applying for a position directly with an agency can be an easy way to get your clearance upgraded (or sponsored for that matter). However, agencies have their own suitability criteria outside of the security clearance process, and unfortunately, some agencies are not forthcoming about their criteria, leaving candidates in the dark as to what issues the suitability check is attempting to uncover or why they are denied suitability in the first place.

Can I Apply with a Contractor if the Agency Denied Me Suitability?

This is the case of one subscriber to the ClearanceJobsBlog… if they are denied on grounds of suitability with a three letter agency, can they engage a contractor who reaches out before the year mark that the original agency noted?

Altoona writes:

In May, I received my email from a 3-letter agency that my employment processing was discontinued. It did not state whether it was a suitability denial, but it did say I could reapply after 1 year. This was for a TS/SCI.

5 months after receiving the discontinuation email, a private company wants to give me a CJO for the same level clearance (full scop polygraph) and I suspect they do work for this same 3 letter agency (they are not allowed to tell me). So, am I allowed to apply and accept the CJO? I know that by the time this clearance went through it would be well after the 1-year timeline, but I suspect some overlap. I have no idea who to ask or talk to about this. I requested my records via PA request in May and have not received anything yet.

I am a highly motivated self-empowered person who did not lie on the SF-86 but tripped up the day of my poly. It was my first ever.

I’ve had a secret clearance for 18+ years. Went for TS/SCI with full scope poly for the first time with 3-letter agency and tripped in the poly and did not get the job (it was not a clearance denial, I guess suitability, and they said I could reapply in a year). OK so life moves on, fine. Now, a private company might want to give me an offer and clear me for the same 3 letter agency and a full year has not gone by. So now what? Do I have to turn down the job offer?

If it is for a conditional job offer, there is no harm in accepting as long as you’re honest with the recruiter about your prior application timeline and denial. If they are looking to sponsor you for a clearance through the same agency, they should be able to see a prior denial in their security clearance system of record and act accordingly.  In any case, accepting the conditional offer means that you are now on this company’s radar and pipeline list for future work at other agencies.

One investigator writes:

It certainly could have been a “suitability” denial and some agencies apply stricter standards for direct-hire employers than for contractors. See how it plays out. But be working on your “Plan B.”

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 – 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.

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Katie Helbling is a marketing fanatic that enjoys anything digital, communications, promotions & events. She has 10+ years in the DoD supporting multiple contractors with recruitment strategy, staffing augmentation, marketing, & communications. Favorite type of beer: IPA. Fave hike: the Grouse Grind, Vancouver, BC. Fave social platform: ClearanceJobs! 🇺🇸