On the Job

To Some, Security Clearance Weighs More Than Experience

By Kenneth Bredemeier
Special to washingtonpost.com
Friday, July 18, 2008; 5:26 PM

Sometimes workers come to the realization that they are just not cut out to do what they have signed on to do -- sales, in this worker's case.

Yet this employee has a security clearance, a very valuable credential. So how does that play out in the job marketplace?

I'm tired of losing my job over non-pushy sales tactics. I cannot stand badgering people to buy from me. I guess I wasn't cut out for sales. I have a clearance and know that it can be valuable to potential employers. I was wondering if anyone knows the best way to find jobs needing a clearance and the best way to approach an employer with the idea that you are ready for a career change. Are there employers out there that are willing to take a risk on an entry-level employee with little to no experience in their field?

Evan Lesser, director of ClearanceJobs.com, which lists 5,000 jobs that require security clearances, says that numerous employers have told his company that they are eager to employ those with security clearances, even if they may not have the specific skills they are looking for to fill a job.

He quotes one hiring agent as saying, " 'I don't care if they have the skills if they have a clearance. I can train them in three to six months.' "

Or as another hiring agent put it, Lesser recalls, " 'If they have a pulse and the correct clearance,' " confidential, secret or top secret, they are definite employment possibilities.

Lesser says that employers find that it is cheaper to hire someone with a clearance and train the employee rather than waiting the typical 12 months for the worker with no clearance to secure one.

He says this worker ought to explore his options with a variety of firms where he might fit in and see what jobs might be available. Some possibilities would include openings for service technicians to repair computers and security operations to control access to federal buildings or to do security audits.

Kenneth Bredemeier has six years of experience writing about the workplace. On the Job, a column addressing real worker questions about office relationships, corporate policies and workplace law, is written exclusively for washingtonpost.com.

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