Security clearances are difficult to acquire, as they require a significant investment by the hiring company. Holding a clearance means that you've either showed impressive workplace skills and trustworthiness in the eyes of your employer, or have put your life on the line in the service of your country as a military security clearance holder. If you have a year or less left on your clearance, the time to act is now. If you don't know what the clearance is worth, here's a few warnings and tips on what to do next before you lose a major job market advantage.
Getting The Clearance Back Isn't Easy
Being approved for a security clearance in the first case is a feat of competence, but that doesn't mean that an expiration is simple to fix. The short, more simple re-investigation during an active security clearance can save a lot of time for critical projects that required cleared personnel, but an expired clearance that goes beyond the 24-month expiration window (discussed in Department of Defense directive 5200.2-R, section C18.104.22.168 and this US Air Force security expiration commentary) will require a full investigation.
You'll have to start over from scratch, which means investigating those close to you and processing information at the back of the queue with every other contractor, federal employee and military service-member--keeping in mind that new military personnel and federal employees are pumped into the security clearance pipeline with every graduating high school and college class.
Your clearance will have the added investigation requirements of searching through your past clearance activities. Where did you work? What did you have access to? Was anything compromised during your service? Small incidents that could have been admitted and passed as simple mistakes may be under more scrutiny, and could delay your clearance. Not to mention how bad it may make you look in front of a new employer.
Renewing Your Clearance Is As Simple As Getting A Job Now
Security clearance jobs are one of the hottest tickets on the job market, even during economic downturn. It's something that you have, but many others don't, and with higher clearance levels you can find some job that simply needs your clearance for compliance.
Remember the pipeline of high school and college students entering the security clearance world every year? There's a smaller pipeline of cleared federal employees and military veterans who enter the job market every day, and cleared jobs employers know how to handle your paperwork properly.
There may be some competition for the perfect job at the top of certain industries, but if you're just trying to renew your clearance, employers can make a deal with you that works out well for all parties involved. Even a temporary contract requiring a clearance is enough to push for a renewal. A renewal isn't an extension or grace period; your renewal resets the clearance timer and gives you more time to work with your qualification.
Contact a security clearance jobs professional to discuss the cleared jobs market and opportunities for you to renew your clearance--or, if it's been over 24 months, a chance to start over.