Security clearance isn’t just for international men of mystery. Plenty of jobs — particularly those in the government or military — require security clearance. But what does that involve, really?
In this guide, we’ll discuss when you should (and shouldn’t) disclose security clearance on your resume and show you examples of how to do it. Before that, though, let’s take a look at the different types of security clearance and what it all means.
What is security clearance?
In short, security clearance is a tiered system used in jobs that involve classified information or matters of national security. This often applies to military and government positions but can also cover civilian contractors and jobs in the private sector.
Security clearance isn’t just for people in high-ranking positions. Any job that involves interacting with classified information or high-security settings may require security clearance, from CEOs to administrative and janitorial staff. To gain security clearance, you’ll need to go through a thorough background check as well as other steps depending on the specific level of clearance.
Exactly what’s involved in security clearance will depend on your role, sector, and level of clearance. Different clearance levels also depend on what industry you’re in — clearance levels used by private companies may not be the same as those used by government agencies.
This guide aims to address people who have — or need — security clearance at any level, regardless of sector.
How to list security clearance on your resume (including examples)
There are a few different ways you can choose to list security clearance on your resume:
- In your resume header
- In your resume summary
- In your work experience bullet points
- In an additional section
Let’s take a look at some examples of what each of those should look like.
As a subheader
If you’re applying for a position where security clearance is essential, it can be best to put that information front and center. To emphasize that you have current security clearance, simply add a line underneath your name but above your contact details that says “Security Clearance.”
In a resume summary
If you’re using a resume summary, that can be the perfect place to mention your current security clearance. This doesn’t have to take up a lot of space — at the end of your resume summary, simply add a line that says “active security clearance” (or, optionally, specify your level of clearance).
In your work experience section
If you don’t feel like adding extra sections — or if working with classified information was a major part of your job — you can also add it to your bullet point accomplishments. Toward the end of your accomplishments, add a bullet point that says something like “maintained active security clearance.” To really drive home your ability to work discreetly with sensitive information, you can include accomplishments relating to your work on confidential projects — without violating any NDAs, of course.
In an additional information section
If you want to get specific about your active (or inactive) security clearance, you can add an additional section toward the end of your resume. This could be a separate “Clearance” section or a “Security Clearance” subheading within an all-purpose “Additional Information” section. In this section, specify your level of security clearance, when you held it, and whether it’s currently active or expired.
If you’re wondering what else, like security clearance, should or shouldn’t be included on your resume, upload it to the tool below to get a detailed review with suggestions on what you need to add or remove from your resume.
When to disclose security clearance on your resume
Now that you know how to disclose security clearance on your resume — should you?
The short answer is: Only if it’s relevant. Here are some situations when it can be helpful to list security clearance on your resume:
- You’re applying to a job that needs the same type of security clearance you already have — for example, if you’re transferring from one military or government position to another. This can indicate that there’s no need for additional background checks and speed up the process.
- You’re applying for a job that requires a different type of security clearance than you currently hold. In this situation, you’ll still need to go through the process again, but having held any type of security clearance can reassure a potential employer that this will go smoothly.
- You have inactive or expired security clearance. Even if your clearance has expired, it can be helpful to indicate that you’ve held it previously.
- You’re applying for a job that doesn’t require official security clearance but does involve handling sensitive or confidential information.
Security clearance on a resume: Dos and Don’ts
Not sure how much information you should disclose when listing security clearance on your resume? Here’s what information you should include — and what you should hold back.
- Whether your security clearance is currently active
- Your level of security clearance
- The dates you held security clearance
- The names of classified projects you’ve worked on
- Specific details of your work under security clearance
- The names of any classified tools or programs you’ve used
- Any classified information — this may include your employer, location, department, job title, and supervisor