Who can we Trust?

Carolyn KinardThe federal government is on the lookout for good, trustworthy, and reliable citizens who are seeking employment. All federal job applicants are required to pass a general background check before any job offer can be made. This background check should not be taken lightly, because the government is serious about hiring reliable citizens who can be trusted with national security secrets.

Most people may not know what this background check entails. It is a thorough probe into the overall lifestyle of a person which includes criminal and credit histories, to determine if he or she is trustworthy, has good conduct, and has demonstrated allegiance to the United States of America. If the job requires access to classified information, a security clearance is also necessary. Obtaining security clearance involves a more strenuous background examination to determine if an individual is eligible to have access classified information.

All security clearance applicants are required to submit proof of United States citizenship (passport, birth certificate or naturalization certificate) at the time of the application. The federal government will only grant security clearance to an individual once the vetting process, including a detailed background investigation and criminal history check, is completed.

National security material that requires safeguards against unauthorized leaks are classified at one of the following three basic levels:

  • Confidential Clearance
    This is the lowest level of clearance. If information at this level is passed on to an illicit source, the damage caused, most likely would not be devastating.
  • Secret Clearance
    If information at this level is released to an unfriendly source, the damage caused to our national security could be serious.
  • Top Secret Clearance
    Top secret clearance refers to information that could cause extremely serious and permanent damage to our national security if it is leaked to an unfriendly source.

Needless to say, in order to provide the best candidate for the job, background checks have become necessary rather than optional. Further information for job seekers can be found at Privacy Rights Clearinghouse.

Carolyn Kennard is a Regional Facilitator for Workforce Solutions in the Houston – Galveston area. She conducts job search skills seminars throughout the 13 county Gulf Coast region. Before embarking on a career in workforce development, Carolyn achieved success in marketing and training with a major oil company. Carolyn holds a B.A. degree from Virginia State University and an M.A. degree from Prairie View A&M University.



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