While I was building my company, one of my business partners and I divided up our responsibilities determining that he would be responsible for everything “inside the walls” (i.e. HR, Security, Finance, Accounting, IT, Facilities) and that I would be responsible for everything “outside the walls” (i.e. Profit and Loss, Business Development, Capture, Marketing, Communications, Customer Relations, etc.). I also was responsible for another important function to any business that relies on outstanding talent – recruiting. I will never forget when we were just ten people and after I did my day job of running the company’s operations, I hit the phones and the internet and I set about recruiting our next important hire. I spent hours screening resumes, assessing qualifications, and describing why my company was the best place for people to come to work. I could recite our benefits program in my sleep. But most interestingly, I also spent a lot of time answering questions. It became clear that people coming out of the military needed help since there is so much variance in transition assistance programs between the services and among different locations. Mine was “so so” and only later did I realize that I left a lot on the table. You live and you learn, but one thing I want to make sure you do is protect your security clearance (assuming you have one). It can be an outstanding asset and differentiator between you and another candidate.
For companies doing work in the intelligence community and many defense oriented firms, we need to hire people that come ready to go. Since we make our money by putting experts to work on hard problems, the sooner we can get someone “off the bench” and working with a customer the sooner we can begin earning money. This is especially important for smaller companies, but business of all sizes pay close attention to overhead costs – especially these days. Therefore, you could be the perfect person for the job and if a clearance is required and you don’t have things in order it will likely delay your hiring if not eliminate the opportunity all together.
Therefore, there are some things you can do BEFORE you leave the service to set yourself up for your post-military life.
1. As you get close to your ETS departure or retirement, ensure your Periodic Phased Review (PPR) is completed and current. This is your 5 year reinvestigation for Top Secret and 10 years for Secret reinvestigations. This is extremely important and required by any agency to adjudicate clearances. This is also true for any polygraphs you were scheduled to complete. Many just do not get them completed and if you take one you want to see it all the way through. Recently all intelligence agencies have required at least a Counter Intelligence (CI) Polygraph for any Special Compartmented Information (SCI) clearances. This is especially true if network access is required.
2. Retain your most recent SF 86/e-QIP records you have submitted for your security clearance. Keep this very personal information in safe place so you can access it when needed. This will help you update any future or new security clearance requests. Remember this is your clearance to manage and maintain. No one will do that any better than you.
3. Maintain a clean record when granted a security clearance. This sounds simple but many straddle the line. Know the thirteen adjudicated guidelines; http://extras.sltrib.com/Utah_Data_Center/security_clearance.pdf, abide by them if you wish to continue in a field that requires a national security clearance. When you are entrusted with a security clearance it is an important milestone in your career. Maintain the professionalism that is required for such trust by the people of United State of America, your families and the agencies granting you the access.
About the Authors: Craig Parisot is currently the Executive Vice President and Chief Strategy Officer of Altamira Technologies Corporation, a three-hundred person company headquartered in Mclean, VA. Since separating as a Captain, he has successfully help build and sell two companies and is very active in the not-for-profit and business community in the greater Washington DC metropolitan area. Follow Craig on Twitter @CraigParisot.
Marco D’Eredita is the Director of Security at Altamira Technologies Corporation. He is a retired United States Army Reserve Major and served over 35 years as a civilian in the Department of Defense with 15 years in security. He is often sought after by the company’s partners for advice in all matters of personnel, physical and information security.