A few years ago, at the beginning of the Covid pandemic, I came back to the Netherlands after working abroad for more than ten years at two fabless semiconductor startups. Since my return, I’ve done some short projects, but I haven’t been able to find an interesting position on a permanent contract. Currently, I don’t have a job at all. There just don’t appear to be many opportunities here for someone with my specialization.
To my surprise, I recently came into contact with not one but two interesting companies, each of which has now sent me an offer. Both contracts require a certificate of conduct and one also contains the resolutive condition that I get a NATO clearance. Because of the content of the work and the company’s reputation, the latter job has my preference, even though it comes with a lower salary.
Unfortunately, the hiring manager for my position of choice has gone on holiday for three weeks, with limited access to his email. I know that it may take even longer to obtain NATO clearance. Still, the wait feels uncomfortable. I’ve had clearance in the past, but there’s always a chance that I won’t get it again, disqualifying me from the contract. Meanwhile, I run the risk of not getting the other job either.
I’m now thinking of signing both contracts, but I’m afraid that will be considered unethical or even get me into legal trouble. If I tell the other company of my preference, they’ll probably move forward with someone else. What should I do?
The headhunter answers:
It’s not unethical to sign two employment contracts if they both contain a resolutive condition. In addition, both only take effect in a month and a half and have a subsequent probationary period of one month. All the while, either party may terminate the agreement without giving any reason. So I also don’t foresee any legal problems. However, as you can’t join both companies, at some point, you’ll have to turn down one of them.
Obtaining a NATO clearance is contingent on several factors, including the nature of the work and the degree of confidentiality of the information you’re going to work with. The procedure starts with filling out a questionnaire about your marital status, your partner, your family relationships and your place of residence, but it also looks into your financial situation, judicial data and personal behavior. The security investigation is carried out by the General Intelligence and Security Service (AIVD) or the Military Intelligence and Security Service (MIVD).
The duration of the examination is determined by the complexity of the application and can vary from a few weeks to several months. Your previous clearance may work in your favor here, depending on how long ago it expired and the reason for expiry. I recommend you contact the organization responsible for your application about the requirements specific to your situation. Knowing these may help you speed up the investigation.
Once you’ve obtained the clearance, you must adhere to the rules that apply to working with confidential information. Violation of these rules can lead to the loss of the clearance and possibly criminal prosecution.