Have you been denied a job or lost a bid on a contract because of security clearance issues? And you’re not sure why since you’ve never been in trouble with the law, other than a parking ticket maybe? With some discussions with security experts and some research, we have found out there are many different factors that are considered in giving a person security clearance.

Here are some factors that are taken into consideration. Being cognizant of these factors may help you know how to get clearance next time, or if you’ll ever be able to.

The Procedure

First, you will need to complete some paperwork – a lot of paperwork actually. And you’ll have to give your permission for a comprehensive background check. You and any individual that is associated with you for the job or the project will be interviewed.

If there is concern about anyone who is interviewed, that person will be sent a letter stating the reasons of concern. One common example is a person’s financial security. Every declined applicant will be given the opportunity to respond.

On occasion, an applicant may be given a polygraph if there are lifestyle issues that cause concern, such as a counterintelligence risk. Once this process is complete, a final decision is provided and recorded.

Areas That Cause Concern

When an individual is being considered for security clearance, there are multiple categories that the investigators will consider:

The Data

After 9/11, the United States began to take security clearances more seriously. The number of applicants seeking security clearance jumped up from just a few hundred in 2001 to almost 1,600 in 2011. Less than 40% of the applicants received clearance. The most common issues in order were:

In 2014, over 750 applicants were denied clearance due to financial reasons, over 300 for personal conduct, and one for outside activities. There were over 190 denied because of foreign preference, three for mental issues, and over 20 for sexual conduct, and over 110 because of drug abuse. Other issues were alcohol abuse – 43 applicants denied, six denied for security violations, over 80 for criminal conduct, and a dozen for information technology reasons.

In 2008, the law that allowed the U.S. Department of Defense to deny a person security clearance due to previous jail time was repealed. No longer can anyone, including a person that served time for murder, be automatically denied.

The Take Away

If you are applying for a job or bidding on a contract that will require a security clearance, take the time to learn what data will be considered. Then know where you stand with each factor that is scrutinized.