Getting a Security Clearance

Students and recent grads obtaining federal employment often view security clearance background investigations with great apprehension.  Here is advice from people who run such background checks about the major problems people encounter:

1. No. 1 reason why security clearances are deniedbad credit history.  Investigators say that students and recent alums facing a security clearance check should get their own credit report to make sure there’s nothing negative in it, and if so, to deal with it candidly when speaking with investigators.

2. No. 1 background problem that people intentionally omit from disclosure form:  past drug use.  Candor is the best policy.

3. No. 1 reason why background checks drag on and on:  people spend a semester or year living in a country that is not considered to be a U.S. ally, and fail to keep track of (i) who they met (and their contact information); (ii) where they went in-country.  Investigators advise keeping close track of this information — if possible in an online calendar, otherwise on paper.

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