Q: I see that there are many government and government subcontractor jobs available. What is the secret to getting hired by these employers? What type of background check do they do? I see jobs being posted with different clearance levels but I am not sure if I am supposed to get the clearance level (or already have it?) or the employer handles this?
A: Getting hired by the government or by a government subcontractor in some ways is no different than getting hired by a non-government employer. First, compare your qualifications to the requested qualifications for a specific role. If you believe you are a strong candidate, you should apply according to the steps indicated – it may be submitting a resume and cover letter via email or mailing the requested documents. Or if you have an internal contact at the company, that may be another avenue to submitting your information.
I consulted Maryanne Cromwell, Director of Human Resources for Quantech Services, Inc. Quantech Services provides a wide range of services to many clients, including the US Navy, Department of Defense and Department of Transportation. Cromwell explains the background check process:
The background checks can be very detailed for a security clearance. Most government and government contractor positions require a secret clearance. You must be sponsored by a company or the government in order to receive a clearance. If a position requires an immediate clearance they may not be able to hire you for that specific position. If the company is willing to hire you with a contingency of securing a clearance they will start the clearance process before you are hired. It takes about two weeks to secure an interim secret clearance. You must complete detailed paperwork which includes a background investigation for this clearance. Some of the items that are asked involve your Foreign Interest (if anyone owns property abroad), Drug or Alcohol abuse, Credit History (Bankruptcies, Liens etc…), Military History (Dishonorable Discharge). If you don’t have positive history with these types of items then you will most likely be denied the clearance. You must also be a US Citizen to be eligible for a clearance.
In 2008, the Federal Government employed about 2.0 million civilian workers (excluding the postal service). For more information about job opportunities and trends in hiring and employment in the Federal Government, review the visit Career Guide to Industries, 2010-11 Edition (www.bls.gov).