Getting a security clearance is a long and frustrating process. You are going to have your background investigated, you might need to waive your HIPAA rights so that investigators can look at your mental health records and contact your doctors, and you will have to provide a list of friends that the investigators can call. Here are some tips for making the security clearance process go as smoothly as possible.

1. Tell Your Friends and Coworkers That You Need to Put Them Down As Contacts

In order to get a security clearance, you will need to provide contacts for investigators to call to verify that you live where you've claimed for the past ten years and that you've worked where you claimed for the past ten years. It is not going to be enough that you say that you lived with your mom during a certain time and put her name down because they prefer that you don't put down close family relatives. However, it is going to be jarring for your friends and coworkers if you don't tell them ahead of time and they might refuse to speak to the investigator, which can slow down your clearance. To keep this from happening, make sure that you call them all ahead of time and ask for their permission to put their names down. This will let them feel that they have a choice and will give them advanced warning.

2. Keep a Copy of Your Work and Residency Timelines Yourself

Next, be sure that you keep a copy of your work and residency timelines. You are going to have to go through all of your security clearance paperwork with a federal investigator multiple times in person and you want to be sure that you don't contradict yourself. The investigators know that it's hard to keep all of the information straight in your head and won't harass you if you're off by a few months, but you will feel more confident if you have a timeline that you can refer to.

3. Don't Stress About Failing a Polygraph Test

Finally, don't stress out should you fail your first polygraph test. You are likely nervous and don't know exactly what's going to happen. Although the person administering the test will try to adjust for your body's response to your anxiety, the adjustments might not be able to fully compensate. If you've made it far enough to take a polygraph test, there's a good chance that your clearance process is going well and that you will be able to take it another time or two.

For more information, talk to your investigator before applying for security clearance jobs.

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