Career Advice – Top Secret vs Top Secret SSBI

Most employers see a difference between ‘Top Secret’ and ‘Top Secret SSBI’.

It helps to know more about your security clearance. Does JPAS list your clearance as ‘SCI-eligible’? If so then that is important information that an employer should know about.

Also, with background investigations and periodic review (PR) updates being more behind than ever, then including your last investigation date on your resume can be an incentive for employers to consider you.


— Security Clearance: Top Secret – SSBI, JPAS: SCI-eligible, PR: 2014

Got career questions?

Bill Golden

Got a resume? Will be glad to share with DoD and IC employers

Got a resume?

Writing an Anonymous Resume — Bill Golden sez

Anonymous ResumesWriting an anonymous resume means more than just removing your name and contact information from a resume.

There are usually two reasons that you would create such a resume:

  • #1 – to keep your current employer from recognizing that you are looking.
  • #2 – to protect your identity from those that may wish you ill or harm.

To truly protect your identity then you must avoid creating a chronological resume — although for many industries it is absolutely essential that you have a chronological resume! You just will not get employer contacts unless you do.

Below is my recommended format for creating an effective anonymous resume. Commentary on included items will be provided in (comments).


Bill / Anonymous Resume (1)

Northern Virginia (2) (3)

Current Certifications

— CISSP, MCSE, Top Secret/SSBI (4)

Skillset Keywords

— I have current expertise in the following: Create a list of keywords and/or keyword phrases that describe your knowledge, skills, and abilities (KSA). These could be the names of equipment, projects, locations, tools or software that you are adept at wielding that could benefit your next employer. Since you wish to be anonymous then ONLY INCLUDE things for which you have done or used within the last five years.

Experience / Last 12 Months

— What is the general scope and scale of what you have done over the last 12 months? Example: My role has been Senior-Level Network Engineer and NOC Shift Manager for a 35 member cybersecurity team responsible for enterprise systems within the mid-Atlantic region. (5)

Experience / Last 5 Years

— Broadly outline your experience of the last five years just as you did for the last 12 months above.

Experience / Last 10 Years

— Broadly outline your experience that is older than the last five years but less than ten years.

— Your experience probably included different experiences, locations, equipment and systems, etc, for your employment of more than five years ago. So once again, appropriate to the time period (5+ years ago), outline your expertise in the following: Create a list of keywords and/or keyword phrases that describe your knowledge, skills, and abilities (KSA). These could be the names of equipment, projects, locations, tools or software that you are adept at wielding your KSAs to benefit your next employer.

Education (6)

AA (1997), BA (2003)



1 – Give recruiters a first name to call you. It doesn’t need to be your real name. Pick something simple and common. Interaction requires some level of one-on-one.  A faux first name is much better than a recruiter feeling awkward contacting you via ‘Dear Anonymous’. You can give your real name once you are comfortable with the person that contacts you.

2 – Yes, you need an email address. Some websites automatically create a forwarding email address for you even if you are not anonymous. However, if you wish to truly be anonymous then create a separate email address. Get something from GMail or Hotmail and have emails forwarded to your regular email — so you don’t overlook checking. Anonymous resumes do not get a high response rate from recruiters and you may get tired of checking your special email account unless you are getting regular traffic.

3 – Yes, you need a location. Your location does not have to be exact. Recruiters are seldom interested in chatting with candidates that require relocation. So give them something to assist them in understanding your geospatial location. You could just use your city name or using a metropolitan area name. Examples: Richmond VA; Metro Washington DC; Baltimore, MD area; Northwest Florida; Southern California; Colorado Springs area, etc.

4 – If you have certifications then put that information up front. Certifications are often more valuable than formal degreed education. On an anonymous resume, certifications could be the one thing that encourages a recruiter or program manager to contact you. Anonymous resumes have very low contact rates so this is a major advertiser for why they should contact you.

5 – There is no need to mention the name of your employers. Be consistent: leave out the names of your employers. Whom you worked for can be important for you to get your next job — but since you want to be anonymous then naming employers can also expose your identity.

6 – There is no need to give the names of the schools that you went to. You could include the expertise area of your degree (if relevant to the job) if you wish, or you can just list the level of degree received. Naming schools can compromise your identity.

Before creating an anonymous resume, ask yourself why you are doing it. Such resumes have abysmally low response rates. For some individuals it is essential to have an anonymous resume. Please do not create an anonymous resume because you believe that it will give you a mystique factor — this only works for the most unique of individuals, and they probably aren’t looking for a job.

by Bill Golden

Career Advice / I match qualifications. Why aren’t recruiters responding?


I recently sent my resume in for an invitational career event. I checked my resume against the requirements and would appear to be a good match. Why aren’t recruiters responding?


Thank you for sending your resume along with your question.

=^( … I do not expect that you will hear from the recruiters that you applied to, or from other similar recruiters. Federal contract corporate recruiters generally only respond to resumes that they want to seriously follow up on (a quirk, but a bureaucratic one due to OFCCP rules).

Recruiters probably will not follow up because of two reasons: Your five year update expires in September 2014 (today’s date is August 2014). There is generally a minimal 90 day window for them to be able to get your security clearance up and running again if update paperwork is involved. There is not 90 days left before your PR will expire.

Secondly, it appears that you last used your clearance in 2012. There is a 24 month rule: regardless of how much time is left on your five year periodic review (5 Year PR) update, your clearance usually ages off in the clearance database used by contractors at the 24 month mark from the date of last usage. Depending upon what month you last used your clearance then it has or will shortly expire.

My recommendation is to look locally for a company that will appreciate your skillset and has a place in the firm that does not require a security clearance. This will give them the chance to do the paperwork to get your 5 Year PR updated. Another quirk: companies cannot submit the update paperwork unless they actually hire you. If they hire you then they cannot collect money from the Gov unless they show that you are working against a valid billet. If the only available billet requires a clearance … then we are in a Catch 22 situation.

BTW – You have a great resume. You do generally match all of the advertised requirements … except your security clearance has challenges.

Best regards,
Bill Golden /

Career Advice / New MA Graduate / No Security Clearance / What is a Think Tank?


I recently came across your site while trying to get my foot in the door to the intelligence community. I am a MA graduate in War Studies from a major university and have several years of work experience in unrelated fields.

Unfortunately, I do not have a security clearance. This has been a major stumbling block for me though my job search. Do you have any advice on how best to get myself in this field with this in mind?


The security clearance will remain a huge hurdle for you so my recommendation is that you should go in a different but parallel direction.

You need to become a consultant with organizations that think about doctrine, scenarios and policy.

One such organization is the Institute for Defense Analyses,, a not-for-profit corporation that operates three Federally Funded Research and Development Centers (FFRDCs) in the public interest: the Systems and Analyses Center, the Science and Technology Policy Institute, and the Center for Communications and Computing. IDA exists to promote national security, preserve the public welfare, and advance scientific learning by analyzing, evaluating, and reporting on matters of interest to the United States Government.

Rarely is a security clearance needed.

The IDA falls within the category of ‘Defense Policy Think Tank’. Here is more information on this category of employers and career opportunities:

Often you can get hired on with one of these organizations: starting at the bottom, or not too far therefrom, as an information research analyst supporting a team of analysts. Where you go from there depends upon your innovativeness in proposing solutions to tough problems and then presenting the data behind your recommendations.

Best regards,

Bill Golden