Dear Lifehacker, Can employment agencies make it a requirement of an applicant to have a security clearance? I'm looking for work at the moment, but a lot of the jobs that I'm actually qualified in state that already having a security clearance is essential. My understanding is that I need to actually get sponsored by an employer to get one. Whenever I've stated that I don't have a clearance but would be willing to apply for one, I get the automated email response that I'm not successful.
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So I tried not mentioning it in my applications. As a result, I've started getting replies from recruiters showing that they're interested, only to have them immediately change their mind once they find out I don't have a clearance. So how could this be allowed? I can't get one if they don't sponsor me, but they won't hire me unless I already have one. Thanks, Code Meh
Companies that work closely with the Australian Government as well as government agencies themselves may require security clearances from employees. To get the clearance, however, you'll have to get one of the government agencies to agree to sponsor you. The agency will then request a clearance on your behalf, which goes through the Australian Government Security Vetting Agency (AGSVA).
It is not possible to apply for clearance on your own. A prerequisite of getting a security clearance is that you must be an Australian citizen unless you can get a waiver from the government. If you're applying for a job, your potential employer will let you know whether you need to be vetted for the position and what level of clearance you require.
There are four levels of security vetting and as you move further up, you will be subjected to a more rigorous checking process which then becomes more expensive, time consuming and intrusive. The level of clearance you need to obtain will be dependent on the type of classified information you'll need to access in your job and is not based on rank or seniority.
Here's how the AGSVA describes each level:
- Baseline Vetting: permits access to classified information/resources up to and including PROTECTED.
- Negative Vetting Level 1: permits access to classified information/resources up to and including SECRET.
- Negative Vetting Level 2: permits access to classified information/resources up to and including TOP SECRET.
- Positive Vetting: permits access to resources at all classification levels, including certain types of caveated and codeword information.
If a government agency does agree to sponsor you, then the process is fairly straight forward. You start off by completing an online questionnaire for the AGSVA. You will then be required to send in supporting documents and depending on the level of clearance you're applying for the AGSVA may need to interview you and the referees you have listed down in your application.
While it can be a bit of a pain to apply for a security clearance in the first place, unfortunately it's unavoidable for certain jobs. Your best bet is to ask for prospective employers to kick off the vetting process for you. Government agencies that do require security clearance will likely pay for the whole process as well, so you won't be left out of pocket.
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