Some job applications specify a grade C in Maths, others perhaps need demonstrable evidence of a particular skill, but arguably one of the trickiest requirements is obtaining Developed Vetting (DV) security clearance.
What is DV clearance? For those of you that aren't familiar, it's a process which determines an individual’s suitability for access to sensitive government information or other valuable assets, and is the highest level of clearance. It's commonly required in the defence & aerospace and IT sectors. As you might expect, obtaining this level of security clearance takes time and effort, but for those who make the grade, doors can open to some of the most rewarding and challenging projects - and a career to be envied.
Here’s some expert guidance on how to get DV clearance, what DV clearance involves and what to expect of the process - plus our consultants' top tips, to make your life a little bit easier!
How do I get DV security clearance?
Firstly, you need a sponsor, as individuals can’t ask for a security clearance unless they are sponsored. Even then, you can only be sponsored if your employer (or you, if you’re a consultant) is contracted, or is in the process of being contracted, to work on Ministry of Defence (MoD)- classified projects.
If the company is LIST X (a British-based commercial site that is approved to hold UK government information marked ‘confidential’ or higher), it will be able to sponsor the clearance itself. If you are employed by a company that is subcontracted by a LIST X main contractor, the LIST X firm will also be able to sponsor you. If there is no LIST X sponsor, the MoD authority responsible for placing the contract will sponsor the clearance.
Your sponsor requests your clearance, applying to the Government’s vetting provider, UK Security Vetting (UKSV). They are obliged to explain why you need clearance and to notify them when you no longer require it. Before they can do this, you must have undergone the Baseline Personnel Security Standard (BPSS).
What should I expect from the process?
The UKSV website itself describes DV as ‘the most thorough method of security clearance’, and the process involves undertaking criminal record, credit reference and security service record checks. They’ll double check everything, either in writing or by interviewing those who supplied the references.
The UKSV will ask for access to your medical records and ask you to complete a financial questionnaire, which may extend to your partner’s financial affairs. You’ll also be asked to attend an interview, too. As we said, it’s a long and involved process.
The DV clearance interview
Most people dread interviews and this one is no exception. The UKSV says it can, in some cases, go on for up to three hours. The aim is to build as full a picture of your life as possible, to determine your character.
Naturally, as a DV cleared individual, you’ll have access to extremely sensitive information, so establishing traits like honesty, loyalty and discretion is very important. The body is keen to point out, however, that it’s not an interrogation but a decision will be made based on the information that you have provided. Usually your sponsor will advise whether or not you have been successful.
More information about this can be found on the UKSV site.
In some cases you may be able to transfer your clearance to a new employer or to a new role, providing the required clearance is of the same or a lower level. Your sponsor would need to submit a request. There is no guarantee that this will be approved, though and several criteria need to be met.
Top tips for gaining DV clearance
- Honesty is the best policy: Be completely truthful and transparent throughout the entire process. Clearance will be refused if it’s discovered that you supplied false information or omitted details.
- Be prepared to disclose all your secrets: The interview can get a little probing, for obvious reasons. You’ll need to unleash any skeletons from that you’ve hidden away. Rest assured that vetting officers are experienced and unshockable; they’ve heard it all before, so don’t worry.
- Have patience: Due to the thorough nature of the process, it isn’t quick. Each case is individual so there is no way to prescribe a given timeframe. However, in our experience, you should expect it to take a minimum of three months and certainly no longer than 12 months.
- Stay out of trouble: keeping your DV clearance status depends entirely on your behaviour going forward, so don’t be tempted to do anything silly! Also, some changes in circumstance can warrant a retraction, or at least a re-evaluation, so bear that in mind.
Which jobs require DV clearance?
A wide variety of professions necessitate different levels of security clearance - from engineering and IT, to military and surveillance roles. Within certain organisations, clearance might be required for otherwise ‘ordinary’ roles, like sales, admin or human resources.
To see what DV cleared jobs we have on offer right now, visit arm.co.uk.
How long is DV clearance valid for?
One of the most frequently asked questions on this subject is: 'How long does security clearance last?' The answer, of course, depends on the role you're doing, the employer or agency you're working for and whether there is a need. Broadly speaking, it may last for five to ten years before needing to be reviewed. Sounds vague, but each circumstance is different. For instance Government contractors may need their clearance reviewed after five years, when permanent employees are good for ten. Ask during the interview process for a better idea for your own case.
If you’d like more advice on gaining clearance, please get in touch. Our experts have years of experience in this field and are more than happy to talk to you about the process.