Obtaining a security clearance can be a real boon to your career. You not only qualify for jobs that would be off-limits without the clearance, but you can make an estimated additional $5,000- 15,000 in your annual salary as well. This means it's important to do what you can to qualify for and hold onto your security clearance. If you are in the process of getting qualified for a security clearance, or you already have one and it's up for renewal soon, it's critical to avoid the following three mistakes:
Getting Into Major Debt
Having a manageable amount of debt, such as a mortgage and a credit card you always pay on time, most likely won't jeopardize your security clearance. On the other hand, should your debt become unmanageable and excessive, this could definitely put your security clearance at risk. Not only does excessive debt show your potential to make bad decisions, but in the eyes of the security clearance board, financial desperation also makes you more likely to accept bribes and engage in other corrupt behavior once you have access to confidential information.
Current Substance Abuse
Having a drug or alcohol problem in your past won't necessarily disqualify you from getting a security clearance. The key is to be candid and forthright about the issue, and explain how you overcame it. If you are currently abusing alcohol or drugs, however, you should focus on becoming sober and taking care of your health before you apply for a security clearance. They will find out about your problem, and it will affect the process since the government doesn't want someone who is under the influence of drugs and alcohol to have access to confidential information.
While in the non-cleared professional world, there is usually a strict line between your personal and work life, that is not the case when it comes to jobs requiring a security clearance. Adultery can lower your chances of getting or keeping a security clearance because it shows lack of judgment and lack of honesty, as well as a potential to get distracted by personal drama. The best thing to do is work on your marriage, perhaps with the help of couple's counseling, instead of succumbing to the temptation to cheat on your spouse.
By avoiding these three mistakes, you will help safeguard your security clearance, and safeguard your career prospects at the same time.