If you recruit for a federal agency, a defense contractor or other company that does business with the government, and you have to fill positions with cleared resources (i.e., people who have security clearances), or people who are “clearable” (capable of obtaining a security clearance), then you are already painfully aware of the cost involved in obtaining a clearance (in the thousands of dollars for a Top Secret) and the time it takes to process and adjudicate one (average of 1 year for a Top Secret). And, generally, until your new hire has been awarded his/her clearance, your company cannot have him/her working on projects that require the clearance.
So, clearly, it is better from a cost savings and productivity standpoint for your company to find someone who already has a clearance or who can more easily obtain one so he/she can begin being productive as quickly as possible after starting. This is why sourcing from the military is a great way to fill those “clearance required” positions.
As mentioned in an earlier blog, many (though not all) service members already have a security clearance as a requirement to perform their job in the military. This population includes college seniors who are about to be commissioned through the Reserve Officer Training Corps (ROTC) program. There are several ways to confirm the status of the clearance.
If your company is a defense contractor, it should have an account to access the Joint Personnel Adjudication System (JPAS), which is the Department of Defense’s personnel security migration system. From there your designated JPAS account holder(s) can look within the system and confirm if the veteran you are considering for a position does in fact have a current clearance, or has evidence of a clearance in his/her history.
If you recruit for a government agency, the Office of Personnel Management (OPM) has an internal government database that is linked to JPAS. This provides an across-the-government view of current and historical information which allows agencies to confirm clearance status online.
Can you still consider an applicant who previously had a clearance but who left the military a year ago? As long as the break in military service has not exceeded more than 24 months and an inquiry discloses no reason why the clearance should not be accepted you should still be able to have his/her clearance reinstated without needing to redo the full investigation. However, if the break has been more than 24 months there will need to be a reinvestigation. The process should be faster for someone who previously held a clearance versus someone who has never had a clearance.
Even if the veteran you are considering never had a clearance, in general he/she could be considered more “clearable” compared to an applicant who never served in the military, simply because the veteran has already passed a number of background checks before being allowed to serve, including finger print checks, and (possibly) criminal record checks, and financial credit checks.
Some food for thought: I have spoken with some recruiters who fixate on trying to find a veteran with both a Top Secret (TS) clearance and some additional skill (such as functional familiarity with a specific commercial software application such as Siebel or SAP). I have to remind them that often the veteran with the TS clearance can learn the missing skill faster than the civilian with the skill can obtain a TS clearance. People who are successful in the military are that way because they are highly adaptable and trainable. Your company could still save a lot of time and money by sending the veteran with the TS to Siebel training versus hiring the civilian with Siebel skills and waiting up to a year to be able to staff him/her on a project.