An active security clearance is a benefit to job seekers searching for employment with a civilian company that requires cleared employees. Government agencies, in particular the Department of Defense, have a preference for hiring companies employing ex-military personnel with the necessary clearance. Even if your security clearance has lapsed, hiring you may still be advantageous to an employer requiring cleared employees because reactivating your lapsed clearance will most likely be less costly and faster than having to gain a security clearance for new employee for the first time.
Federal Investigative Services
If your job duties require that you have access to classified national security information, regardless of whether you work for a government agency or a private company, the Federal Investigative Services division of the U.S. Office of Personnel Management will conduct a background investigation to determine if you should be given clearance. The length of time and cost for the investigation will depend on the type of clearance you need and your background.
After you have received your first security clearance, you will be re-investigated on a periodic basis of five-, 10- or 15-year intervals, depending on your clearance level. This is assuming that your need for a clearance continues during that time period. If your need for clearance ceases, such as a change in employment or job duties, your clearance is automatically removed and becomes inactive.
No Individual Application for Clearance
There is no procedure within the Office of Personnel Management for you to apply on an individual basis for an initial security clearance or to reactivate a lapsed security clearance. Only when a request is made by a federal agency or government contractor for clearance of an employee for a specific job position will an initial investigation or reactivation be conducted.
Reactivation Upon Hiring
If you are offered employment that requires a security clearance, your new employer will obtain an application from you for reactivation of your security clearance and submit it to the Federal Investigative Services for approval. Your clearance can be re-activated within 24 months of it having lapsed, if your re-evaluation period did not pass. If the job you apply for requires an active security clearance as a prerequisite for employment, your only recourse on this requirement is to ask the employer to consider hiring you contingent on reactivation of your clearance.