How to List Security Clearance on Resume – Many jobs that involve sensitive information or classified require a security clearance. Despite the fact that these clearances are for confidential matters, it is appropriate and advisable to include them on your application documents. If you have ever held a security clearance for your job and are considering leveraging it for a new job, you should know where and how to list it on your resume. In this write-up, a clear definition of security clearance is provided, how and when you should list a security clearance on your resume is explained, and an example of how to do so properly is issued.
What Exactly Is A Security Clearance?
A security clearance is a status that allows individual access to specific classified information or restricted areas. A security clearance is typically required for positions in the government or military. Clearances are required for high-level officials in these sectors and staff such as custodians and caterers who work in close proximity to people and places with classified data. Security clearances are also common for civilian contractors who need to access resources within databases containing classified information and private organizations that need clearances to access valuable data, such as trade secrets.
Security clearances are not all created equal. In government agencies, for example, there are three levels of clearance, each of which is granted based on the requirements of your position. These are the levels:
The lowest level of security clearance, allowing access to information that, if disclosed, could jeopardize national security.
The second-highest level of clearance, secret, allows access to information that could jeopardize national security.
- Top Secret
The highest level of clearance is top secret. It grants access to information that, if made public, could cause serious and potentially irreparable harm to the national interest.
A person who needs security clearance for their job must go through a vetting process that looks into their background. Authorities collect information directly from the individual during this process. They then compare it to points of information and various sources, such as employment history, residential history, education history, acquaintances and affiliations. Inconsistencies between claims and confirmations may result in a clearance denial.
When Should A Security Clearance Be Listed On A Resume?
Within certain conditions, it is acceptable to list your security clearance on resumes submitted for job applications. Often, doing so will improve your chances of getting the job you want. You may want to include your current and previous security clearances for any of the following reasons:
- Changing Jobs In The Military or The Government
Suppose you have an active security clearance in a military or government role and want to transfer. In that case, you can catch the attention of hiring officials by mentioning it on your resume. Federal agencies will usually grant you a security clearance because you already have one, and your prospective employer may appreciate not having to conduct an additional background investigation for their new hire.
This transferability has some limitations. Your most recent background investigation must have been completed within the last five to ten years, depending on your level of security clearance, with no more than two years of employment interruption during that time.
- Applying For Jobs In The Private Sector That Require A Security Clearance
Security clearances are commonly required for a variety of private-sector jobs, including cyber security, business analysis, and aerospace engineering. Such employers frequently seek qualified candidates with active security clearances. Security clearances do not transfer in the private sector, but demonstrating that you have previously obtained clearance can reassure employers that you are not a risk to their classified data. Because the number of individuals with active clearance is small, listing your security clearance on your resume can greatly enhance your candidacy and pave a way for you to earn a higher salary.
- Displaying Desirable Characteristics
A previous or an active clearance can also come handy when applying for a position that does not require any clearance at all. When prospective employers see that you’ve previously held a security clearance, they may associate this credential with desirable employee characteristics such as responsibility and integrity. The fact that the military, government, or other organization has entrusted you with sensitive data suggests that you are a trustworthy candidate.
How to List Security Clearance on a Resume
To create a resume that incorporates your security clearance, follow these steps:
1. Have An Understanding Of The Requirements
It is acceptable and often recommended to include your security clearance on your resume. Still, it is also a good idea to familiarize yourself with regulations so that you do not jeopardize yourself or others. When it comes to disclosing security clearances, the United States Department of Defense and the National Security Agency have published best practices. You may mention your level of clearance, the fact that you underwent polygraph tests and background investigations, the dates of the polygraphs, and descriptions of the work you did. You should not, however, mention any of the following:
- The specifics of your work, particularly sensitive data pertaining to them;
- The names of projects or missions on which you worked;
- Specific locations’ names associated with your clearance;
- The details or names of classified applications or tools you used;
- Your supervisors’ names.
2. Mention It Right Away
If you possess an active security clearance or have previously held one, it’s a good idea to mention it right away. This information is commonly placed in a header, along with your contact information. Begin your resume by writing your name in a large font at the top of the page. Under that, write “Security clearance,” in smaller type, as if it were a title. The header can then be completed with your location, email address, and phone number.
3. Include A Professional Biography
A professional profile is a section of your resume near the top, directly below your contact information, where you introduce yourself as a candidate and briefly describe your qualifications and skills. It’s also a great place to mention additional information about your security clearance. In addition to your professional attributes and skills, you could specify whether you have an active clearance or a previous clearance. You can also note the level of clearance you have here.
4. Describe Your Security Clearances In Your Work History
Your employment history is another section where you can mention your security clearance. You can list bullet points of accomplishments under each relevant job entry. Include the security clearance you held at the position, the level of the security clearance, and any other details that do not compromise sensitive information among your accomplishments. It’s also a good idea to mention that you had a background check or polygraph test. If you’ve previously had expired security clearances, you can list them here as well.
5. Include A Section On Security Clearances
Add a section at the bottom of your resume that lists and summarizes all of the security clearances you’ve held throughout your career. Your security clearances have shown up four times on your resume at this point, but repetition may go a long way in attracting the attention of applicant-tracking systems that scan resumes. Include each of your clearances as a separate bullet point, along with your level of clearance and the dates of validity.
Secret-level clearance, active (January 2019–present)
Confidential-level clearance (September 2016-January 2021)