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Government Careers: Getting a security clearance

Derrick Dortch : Good Morning, Good Morning! I hope you are all doing excellent. I just came from doing a phone interview with the National Treasury's Employee Union's (NTEU) President Colleen M. Kelly. We had an interesting discussion about NTEU's opposition to the Federal Career Internship Program (FCIP), their support for Merit System, and NTEU's opinion on new hiring reforms. Its an interesting interview that you can hear on my show on Federal News Radio this Friday at 12 Noon on 1500 AM or on FederalNewsRadio.com.

I am going to kick into the show right away because a number of questions are coming. So if you have any questions about Getting A Security Clearance, Getting A Federal Job, Moving UP the Federal Career Ladder, or Making a Military Transition then please ask.  Thanks for stopping by and enjoy the show!

– June 09, 2010 11:02 AM

Q. Active Clearance : Hello Mr. Dortch, I have an active TS/SCI that expires 10/2012, and I am seeking employment in accounting/finance. Do you know of any agencies doing direct hiring before my clearance expire. I have applied with a few agencies, but I'm afraid my clearance my expire before they get to my application. Any suggestions?

– June 09, 2010 10:13 AM

A. Derrick Dortch : Active Clearance, There are a few agencies who are doing Direct Hire. I know Health and Human Services (HHS) is doing direct hire for a number of positions in various agencies within the Department.  You may want look at them but also some of the Intelligence Agencies. Defense Intelligence Agency and National Geospatial Intelligence Agency have both been doing a number of hiring events. These events are where you post your resume and if you are asked to attend this event you are interviewed and you may recieve a conditional offer of employment on the spot or soon after if they like you. Monitor both DIA and NGA's websites for these events. You can also do a keyword search in USAJOBS under "DIRECT HIRE" and see what else comes up. I would also suggest you take a look at doing a search under the Federal Career Internship Program or FCIP. This program has been used to quick hire people as well. Also take a look at positions that are TERM and NTE (Not To Exceed). These positions a also sometimes designated as quick hire. One other suggest is to look for what are call Personnel Service Contractor (PSC) positions.  These PSC positions are used my some agencies like State Department and USAID to bring in people quickly to do critical work. Some of these jobs can be found at Global Corps, http:www.globalcorps.com. I could keep on going but last suggestion is that you look at sites like Clearancejobs.com and TechExpoUSA.com and IntelligenceCareers.com to post your resume and find jobs requiring clearances. There are a number of agencies and contractors looking for people with clearances. I hope this helps. Take care and I wish you much success.

– June 09, 2010 11:13 AM

Q. Security Slearance : Good morning derrick, is it worth putting on your resume that you held a secret clearance dec 2009? thx.

– June 09, 2010 11:02 AM Permalink

A. Derrick Dortch : I would say yes. 2009 was not that long ago and if your resume really shows that you are exceptionally qualified the fact that you have a recently expired clearance would be attractive to government contractor firms. They would look at it in a way that I have a clearable person who is in the system. If your information has not changed then you should be able to get a new secret, Top Secret or hire without too much of a problem.  The key is to make sure that you have a powerful resume that sells you and then have the part on there that shows you have a clearance that sells you even more. I hope that helps. Take care and I wish you much success.

– June 09, 2010 11:17 AM

Q. Using a clearance to increase salary: If one has a clearance and decides to leave in order to take a position with a private contractor, will the clearance automatically transfer? And will the contractor be required to keep me employed as long as I have the clearance?

– June 09, 2010 10:55 AM Permalink

A. Derrick Dortch : Hello and thanks for your question.  If a person has a clearance and they leave the government or military to go to a position where the same clearance is needed then yes the clearance will transfer over.  If a higher level clearance is needed then you will have to go through a background investigation and security clearance process again but based on your clearance level it may not take as long for you to get a higher clearance. Now to answer your question about a contractor being required to keep you. No, there is no requirement for a contractor to keep you. The fact is you can be fired at any time if the contractor is unhappy with your performance, or if you do something wrong, etc. You can also be laid off. This is sometimes the drawback of government contracting work. There are some benefits but some do not like the lack of stability if provides in comparison to working for the government or even being in the military. Your clearance does not protect you from being terminated or a lay off. I hope this answers  your questions. Take care and I wish you much success.

– June 09, 2010 11:24 AM

Q. Want a TS/SCI I won't talk about my clearance level : I love the company I work for. However I want to move up, get a TS/SCI and do the polygraph. My company has NO work that requires this level of clearance. Other people who have these clearances have "freelance" work where they perform annual ISO/CMMI management audits for other companies that have TS/SCI contracts. I want to do that sort of work and would do so for almost no money at all if the company could support me getting SCI. What are my options?

– June 08, 2010 11:17 PM

A. Derrick Dortch : Honestly, you have three options. 1. Wait for your company to get new contracts requiring a SCI clearance and then make sure you are put on it. 2. Get a Federal Position or join the military and be in a job that requires a TS/SCI. 3. Find another contractor job that will give clear you to that level. Outside of those three options there is really nothing you can do. If you love the company you work for and you see continued growth with them you may want to hang in there and find out what is coming in terms of contracts that require SCI clearance they are bidding on and may have a good chance of winning in the future. If you have displayed loyalty and good work then they may reward you with getting on the new project and getting you cleared at the SCI level with a poly. If not I would suggest you begin looking at options 2 and 3 and start with option 2. I hope this helps. Take care and I wish you much success

. – June 09, 2010 11:31 AM

Q. Where to start looking: I am a (pretty newly minted) attorney, currently working as a contractor with a federal agency. Because of this position, I have obtained a security clearance. The contract will be up in a few months and I would like to start looking for other work and I have no idea where to begin because this job is my first non private sector job (and it is not in my field as its not legal). I went through the whole process of getting a clearance so ideally I would like to find a place where it will be relevant or desired. Do you have any suggestions for where to begin looking?

– June 09, 2010 9:55 AM Permalink

A. Derrick Dortch : Hello Where to start looking: I could give you a lot of different options but my first and best advice would be that you begin with thinking about seeing a career counselor who knows the Federal Government and can guide you the right way.  This would help a person like you alot because it would help you in exploring various options. You are at a point in your life where you want to start thinking about a career rather than jumping to the next job so you want to work with someone to help you do that. Now that I have said that I would want you to determine if you are interested in going back to do legal work or are you open to many different paths.  If you do want to do legal work then you may want to look at DOJ, DOD, DHS, the Intelligence Community and others. Each of them have legal positions that require clearances. You may also want to look at positions with other government contractors. An attorney with a clearance who has both legal and other experience may be valued highly. It really just depends on what you bring to the table. Its difficult to answer this in detail without knowing your background more. But breaking it down step by step I would say:

1. Self Assess and figure what you want to do with your career

2. Explore and gegin developing a list of Target agencies, companies and positions based on your wants, needs and qualifications.

3. Begin developing targeted materials that will truly sell you to the agencies, companies and positions of your interest. I would definitely recommend looking at seeing a counselor who knows this market and they can get to know you and guide you more. I hope this helps, take care and I wish you much success.

– June 09, 2010 11:41 AM

Q. Public School Teacher Searching to gov't job: I am a 15 year experienced public school teacher with a master and working towards a doctoral degree at a major university. I would like to transition to a government job but most required a security clearance before therefore I cannot apply. Please advise.

– June 08, 2010 3:20 PM Permalink

A. Derrick Dortch : Hello Public School Teacher, First let me thank you for your service in educating our young people. Teachers are one of the foundations of our society and they need to always be respected and honored. Now let me clear something up with you that is false. YOU DO NOT NEED A SECURITY CLEARANCE to apply to a Federal Job. Again you do not need a clearance.  Federal agencies will tell you for some positions that you will be required to get a clearance but its not required for you to have to get a Federal position. You can apply to Federal positions without a clearance and be hired and if a clearance is required the Government will clear you. The only positions that require clearances are positions with Government Contracting firms. These are private companies who have won government contracts and in order to begin doing certain work they need to have cleared individuals who are able to work in that agency and their secure environment. Contractors can sponsor you for a clearance but they would rather have a cleared person start working right away so they can begin billing the government for their work. So please apply to Federal positions. Do a search on USAJOBS.gov, AVUECENTRAL.com, Indeed.com and also on the actual agencies you have an interest in websites.  There is no one place to find all government jobs so you have to look in multiple locations. The ones I just gave you should help you identify the majority. I hope this helps. Take care and I wish you much success.

– June 09, 2010 11:50 AM

Q. SF - 50: Good morning Mr. Dortch, How can I get a copy of my SF-50? It's been almost 4 years since I left the Govt. and I am now trying to re-enter the Government. In a follow up, how much does previous service to the Government figure into the hireing process.Thanks.

– June 09, 2010 11:28 AM

A. Derrick Dortch : Two options. Your former agencies HR Office or the National Archives.  Here what the National Archives says: An SF-50 is the Standard Federal form for Notification of Personnel Action. If you are a current or former Federal employee, you must include a copy of your latest SF-50 with your application as proof of your Federal service and civil service status.  If you are a current Federal employee, you may obtain a copy of your latest SF-50 from your agency's human resources office. If you are a former Federal employee, you may obtain it by contacting us at the following address:

National Personnel Records Center

111 Winnebago Street

St. Louis, MO 63118-4126

Phone:    314-801-9250

E-mail:    cpr.center@nara.gov

To your second question. It could make you very competitive and more competitive than those without. I am not sure what you did as a government employee but what I do know is that many people do not really know how to sell what they have done in their career. You need to make sure you show the substance of the work you did with the agency you worked with. Show them what regulations you worked with, show them the situations you handled, the actions you took, show who you worked with if they were senior level, show who you supported, show what success you had in terms of results. Botttomline show your success stories and show that you made an impact at this agency and you can do it again. I hope this helps. Take care and I wish you much success.

– June 09, 2010 11:57 AM

Q. N eed a DOD clearance : Except for Army CCF all the other DOD CAFS are moving to Fort Meade. Army CCF is already located there. Morale at DOD CAFS is at an all time low. Very few adjudicators want to move there. Longer commute etc. It will hit the DOD CAFS that adjudicate contractor clearances even harder. Except for the small staff at DOHA Arlington the are located in Columbus. OH and over 90% are not making the move. Many are very upset that they can't tell commute but the DOHA department counsels and administrative judges are allowed to work from home 5 days a week. Expect big time delays that will grow. – June 09, 2010 11:12 AM

A. Derrick Dortch : Thanks for the comment and insight my friend.

– June 09, 2010 11:57 AM

Q. Washington, DC: Hi Derrick, I work in a federal office where most of the employees are excepted service, and our small agency has been 0 funded for 2010-2011 and we officially close on September 30th. There seem to be slim pickings in the federal jobs arena right now, especially in the agencys that do similar work that we did-mainly HHS, DOED, DOL. Can we expect to see more jobs come online as we get closer to the end/beginning of the fiscal year? A lot of us are the equivilant of GS 13's and we are either resarch, program or management analysists. thanks so much

– June 09, 2010 11:18 AM

A. Derrick Dortch : Hello DC, Sorry to hear about your office closing but there are a number of positions out there and many agencies will be hiring up until this fiscal year ends. I reeently ran a career fair that had a number of Federal agencies there. Several of them mentioned that they would hiring hundreds of workers between now and going into 2011. Some of the agencies who I know are or will be hiring are National Science Foundation, US Marshals Service, FBI, CIA, Social Security Administration, NAVAIR, TSA, Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC), USAID, State Department, Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA), Department of Homeland Security (DHS HQ), Health and Human Services, etc. Do not limit your job search to USAJOBS. Its a great place to find government jobs but just like your agency is excepted service there are other excepted services agencies who do not post jobs on USAJOBS but either post on their own site or elsewhwere.  I would suggest you not be passive about your search but you have to be very aggressive about your search and you begin both a targeted application strategy where you are targeting a targeted list of agencies and positions and putting in packages. Next I would say thay you need to do a targeted networking strategy where you are networking with people in various agencies and utilizing your network to help you get another position. Be aggressive and get help if you need it. There are positions out there I can guarantee that. You may just have to find them. I hope this helps. Take care and I wish you much success.

– June 09, 2010 12:08 PM

Q. Govt Job:I need feedback/help with my govt resume. i have created a 5 page resume that i have been using to apply for govt job but i am not getting any feedback from the agencies. how do i obtain your firm's help in revamping my resume? thx.

– June 09, 2010 11:13 AM

A. Derrick Dortch: My company runs a service call Federal Career Services. You can reach it by going to www.federalcareerservices.com. I would suggest you look at the critique service. That would be helpful in your case. I hope this helps. Take care and I wish you much success.

– June 09, 2010 12:09 PM

Q. College Park, MD- Contractors Hi Derrick, What do you see as the long-term prospects for contractors in the government system. I work at an intelligence agency that is rumbling about wanting to migrate many contractor positions back to government employee jobs. Do you think this is likely in the near future? Do you think that reducing contractor positions is a goal of the current administration? Thanks!

– June 09, 2010 11:12 AM

A. Derrick Dortch : Hello College Park, MD, There is much talk about insourcing and this administration has seemed dedicated to doing so. With the intelligence community I think this will happen to a degree but the pace of this will very much depend on the new leader of the ODNI and how much he pushes this after confirmed. I do know that this is a goal. Right now the use of contractors has become so great that I dont know if we can fully shut down the use of contractors in the IC. I do not see that the government is going to want to grow to that size of full time permanent workers.  So I see it always being both Federal workers and government contractors working in the Intelligence Community.

– June 09, 2010 12:14 PM

Q. DOD Due Process There is a move by some in the DOD security world to take the Statement of Reason(SOR) writing and final denial/revocation decision away from WHS. Army CCF, DONCAF, AFCAF and DIA and let the Defense Office of Hearing and Appeals write all the SORs and prosecute/persecute the case before a hearing officer. Currently DOHA only handles DOD contractor clearances. This will hurt DOD military and civilian employees who get a fairer hearing from their respective CAFs and the appeal process will change when it centralized at DOHA where their Appeal Board functions like a US Appeals Court. This not a good move. DOD could save tens of millions of dollars if it changed the EO and put contractors under the same de process as DOD civilian and military members.

– June 09, 2010 11:49 AM

A. Derrick Dortch : Thanks for the comments and insight.

– June 09, 2010 12:15 PM

Q. Political affiliations? I am an aging boomer, who recently received a security clearance. Previously, I thought there was no chance I would be given a clearance because I was opposed to the Vietnam war and supported George McGovern. I was pleased to discover that being a Democrat is not regarded as a security risk. How did I get those beliefs? My whole life, Republican politicians have always said that the Dems were unpatriotic, or worse. I am glad to know that those who rate security risks are not swayed by that bigotry.

– June 09, 2010 11:05 AM

A. Derrick Dortch : Congrats on your clearance.  Everyone should know that getting a security clearance is not based on religion, political beliefs, and things like that. What it is based on is the whole person and if you are suitable to have a clearance. I dont think any of us want racists or anyone who holds negative viewpoints about others working for our government but we all may have some different beliefs that we agree to disagree on. Political beliefs are not looked at in the clearance process unless something comes out about something extreme you were involved in outside of that there is no question on any security form that asks if you are a democrat, republican, independent, etc. Thanks for the comments and congratulations on your clearance. – June 09, 2010 12:20 PM

Q. Applying for federal jobs: Dear Derrick, Thanks for doing these chats. I have two questions: 1. I am applying for similarly-named positions within the same agency. These positions have the exact same duties listed under each announcement. I just received back my rating score from OPM, and I scored 97. I am considering using my essays from this at-this-point-successful application in subsequent ones. Is that allowed? Advisable? I don't see the point in rewriting essays for the exact same questions if I don't have to. 2. Now that I got the notice from OPM of my rating, what happens now? Thanks.

– June 09, 2010 11:12 AM

A. Derrick Dortch : Hello Applying, Yes, use the application you have developed over and over again if it is applicable to the positions you are applying for. There is nothing wrong with that I very much so advise it. You dont want to rewrite essays over and over again for each position. What you want to do is develop some strong materials that meet the consistent qualifications for the positions you are applying for over and over again.  Since you did get a 97 you know that you can do some improvement to get 100. Find out what you need to improve. Maybe look your essay responses again and see if there is anything you can improve upon. You never know! The OPM rating of 97 usually will mean that you are among the qualified and possibly under the best qualified. If 50 people go 98 - 100 then you will not be in the best qualified group.  Everything just depends on a number of variables. This is why I suggest you shoot to making your application the best it can be and work to getting 100. Depending on what you were ranked or what category you were put in your application will be headed to the hiring manager if you were deemed best qualified. If not you will get a letter saying they were interested in you but you were not deemed as best qualified. I hope this helps. Take care and I wish you much success.

– June 09, 2010 12:30 PM

Q. Feds cutting back?: I read this week that agencies are being asked to cut non-mission critical programs. How do you think that will affect federal hiring? Thank you.

– June 09, 2010 11:06 AM

A. Derrick Dortch : Yes, this is true this has been reported. There is a focus on cutting costs. This will definitely affect some agencies negatively but some agencies budgets will grow because they are deemed as mission critical and need more manpower and resources. So with that being said I still see Federal hiring being positive going into 2011.

– June 09, 2010 12:38 PM

Derrick Dortch : I unfortunately have to close but I want to thank everyone so very much for stopping by.  I will be back in two weeks for another great show and with more information to provide on Federal Hiring. As usual I want to thank my Producer Sakina for all of her great work. Till the next time please be safe and enjoy your summer and know that I wish each of you much success in your career, work and life. Take care!!!! Derrick T. Dortch –

June 09, 2010 12:42 PM

 
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