Why It's Critical to Leave a Job on Good Terms

Most people have left at least one job on bad terms in their life. After all, you would be hard-pressed to find somebody who’s never had a boss they didn’t love. Sometimes, a company hires someone with poor leadership skills to manage people and they are horrible at the job. As a bad boss, this individual yells, screams, belittles his or her juniors, and has very poor control – it happens and a bad boss is not the employees’ fault.

If you worked for a bad boss or if that bad boss fired you once upon a time and now you’re applying for security clearance, you could be thinking to yourself, “Is there any way the investigator is going to contact my bad boss and ask them about me?”

Or, maybe you didn’t have a terrible boss, but you were let go for some reason and the experience doesn’t reflect positively on your employment history, and now you’re wondering if it’s going to hinder you from receiving security clearance.

The Standard Form (SF) 86

The Standard Form (SF) 86 asks the applicant a number of questions about their employment history. It requires the applicant to list the last 10 years of work experience, and it asks if they were fired, if they quit, or if they quit after they were notified they were going to be fired, or if they have been reprimanded or received written warnings.

If you have ever left a job because something negative happened, it’s going to be addressed in the SF 86. If you’re thinking about leaving that part out, don’t. If you do not disclose it, we assure you, it’s going to come up during the interview. If it comes up on the interview and you failed to disclose it on the SF 86, now your integrity is in question, which could lead to a security clearance denial.

Is a Bad Experience a Deal Breaker?

Lots of people have left a job under a cloud before so that in itself isn’t a deal-breaker unless you were fired because you stole something, had a substance abuse problem, or because you assaulted a co-worker or a customer.

The fact that you left on bad terms will be scrutinized for sure, and that bad boss may be contacted for an interview. However, investigators know applicants are human and people make mistakes. People are not perfect, but you will have an easier time of it if you are honest and forthright on the SF 86.

Our advice is to use the eQIP form, and in a concise way, explain why you left or were asked to leave the job in question. Provide some background information about what happened on the form and to whoever interviews you. Honesty is the best policy, and if you think that bad boss is going to say negative things about you, say it, but do it in a diplomatic way.