Be More Effective
The close protection industry can be a difficult industry to establish yourself in, especially if you have limited commercial security experience.
In the last five years the industry has changed a lot especially when it comes to employment and there have been a number of factors why, really based around business supply and demand. There has been a reduction in close protection roles in areas like Iraq and Afghanistan with an increase in the use of local nationals to conduct these fewer roles. Countries have preferred to start using their own teams managed by companies that originate from that country. This seems to makes sense from a political point of view but maybe not from a security perspective. We've experienced some of the hardest economic times in recent decades and often one of the first resources to go, or at least be reduced, is security. So there has been a reduction in security roles available but at the same time the Army has reduced its numbers drastically. Therefore there has been an influx of personnel into the employment market whose skill set is ideal to start off in the security industry. The term a lot of people will be familiar with is that the market is flooded with operators.
The reason why a lot of operators find it difficult to establish themselves in the industry is that their CV is never read. On average only 10% of CV's are read in detail. With it being such a difficult industry to enter, it takes so much more than just a CV to make your applications as effective as possible. You've got to use a multilayered approach to finding employment or progressing your career, and the more elements of this jig saw that you use, the more likely you are to be successful. It's no good having a great CV if you don't know who to send it to. It's no good knowing who to send your CV to if they aren't recruiting. Or it's no good having a great CV, knowing who is recruiting, but them not employing people with your skill set and level of experience. So by using a multilayered approach and targeting who you apply to it will dramatically increases your chances of being successful finding employment rather than trying to send your CV off to everyone.
When using a multilayered approach it makes sense to start with your CV as this will form the basis on which to build your application. At the big companies such as Aegis and Olive, they receive hundreds of CV's every week and there just isn't enough time in the day to read them all thoroughly. Therefore the only way to get through the CV's is to skim read them. The process is actually quite brutal and realistically no more than 20 seconds is spent on a CV trying to establish whether it should be read in more detail. With there being a huge influx of operators onto the market at the moment and the Army about to make more people redundant, this process of skim reading CV's in the first instance will continue for the foreseeable future. When writing your CV you should think of it from the perspective of not being read in detail initially, but being skim read so the reader can determine whether they want to read it in more detail later. Therefore when someone picks up your CV it must look inviting to read and easy to extract information from, and the information that they are trying to extract is what was required in the job description. If you pick up a CV and it's over two pages in length then it's going to be hard to skim read in under twenty seconds so it's unlikely someone will try. If you start to read a CV and the use of English language is poor then it's unlikely to be skim readable. If the CV doesn't capture your attention immediately, for example if it hasn't been tailored it to a job description and isn't outlining the information the reader is looking for, then again it goes onto the shredding pile. One of the best pieces of CV advice is that a well written profile at the start of your CV outlining everything required in the job description can be enough to get your CV into the pile to be read in detail without having to skim read any further into it.
Once you have finalised your CV you need to structure the way you go about using it in order to find employment. You're not going to get anywhere by posting 'giz a job' on the forums, no matter how many times you post it! When you are out of work your full time job becomes finding employment and you should structure it that way. It is important that from the start you set out your aims and ultimate goal, then use your structured week in such a way to help you achieve this. Your structure can be as basic or complicated as you want. Some might opt for a school timetable style, breaking the day down into hourly periods of what they want to achieve that week. Some may prefer just to list items they want to achieve that day and tick them off when complete. But whichever method you use you need to structure your week in a logical order to aid you finding work. The vast majority people look for work in exactly the same way, by sitting in front of the computer, trawling the same internet sites and sending the same untailored CV. Therefore as most people are using the same methods to find employment they are actually making it harder for themselves as the competition for roles found in this way is much greater. Instead by structuring your day and week into the different elements of the jig saw to help you find employment it will make your applications much more effective.
When it comes to who to send your CV to most operators use a quantity approach over quality and if you take anything away from this article then try and change that mindset and use a quality over quantity approach. There are so many operational companies in the security industry that you have to be smart about how you go about this and use your time wisely. It's no good establishing a long list from the internet and trying to approach them all. You need to work out which companies deal with the area of protective services that you want to gain employment in. Then think about which of these companies employ personnel with your skill set and level of experience. Then only send your CV off to companies that are actually recruiting. So by narrowing your search to companies operating in the areas of protective security you want to gain employment in, that employ operators with your skill set and that are actually recruiting, it allows you to focus on those that meet that specification. Therefore you spend quality time on the application process to the companies that you have narrowed down to meet your criteria. Rather than using a quantity approach and trying to apply to everyone, but doing it badly.
Once you have narrowed down which operational companies you are going to apply to, you need to identify who to send your CV to within that company. Again It's no good having a great CV, knowing which companies are recruiting operators with your skill set and then sending it to the wrong person. You need to be specific, and make sure you get the contact details of the person who has the ability to offer you employment within the company you are sending it to. In companies such as Control Risks for example it will be whoever runs there Middle East or Iraq / Afghanistan desk if you want to work in hostile environments.
Networking is a term used all the time, but what does it actually mean, and how many people are doing it effectively? Networking In its most basic form is use of the various professional and social media streams such as LinkedIn, facebook or Close Protection World. But it's no good just amassing a long friends list, you need to actually contact these people and establish a professional working relationship with them. Work out who within your social media network works for the companies you are applying to. Then ask them what the company looks for in a CV, from format to wording for example so you can tailor your CV accordingly before you send it to the company. By establishing a professional relationship with those in your social media network then they are more likely to give you information when a job has become available. The majority of jobs are never advertised so you need to use your network effectively so you become one of those operators who are informed about a vacancy when it becomes available and therefore have a realistic chance of applying for it.
The intermediate network level is actually getting out there and meeting those individuals in the security industry who will have a direct impact on you gaining employment. When at networking events don't stay in your comfort zone walking round with, and talking to individuals you already know. If you go as a group spend a period of time on your own, walk up to people and introduce yourself. Talk to them on a personal level, find out something about them and what they do, but equally work out what you could do that would benefit them.
The most advanced network though is 100% reliant on you as an operator and the way you conduct yourself whilst on task. The vast majority of companies use a small core of personnel for each task as they know they are reliable and trustworthy so your aim has got to be becoming part of this core that companies ring first whenever they have an availability on task. Therefore it's all down to your professionalism and standard of work whilst conducting the job. This will be seen through your preparation such as profiling the client before you arrive on task, ensuring your kit is appropriate for the role and that you are presented perfectly at all times. During the task are you flexible and adaptable to the changing itinerary. Do you put yourself forward for extra work where others want to rest. Have you established a good rapport with the principal and your fellow team members. Make yourself more employable by going above and beyond what everyone else is doing, this is standing out from the crowd, but it's actually standing out from the crowd and not just doing it on paper.
When it comes to networking the best piece of advice is to get out there and meet the companies that you are applying to so they can put a face to a name when you send them your CV. However, even though this piece of advice is offered all the time, the majority of people don't do it. On average less than 5% of people actually follow up a CV with a phone call, or ask to meet someone in a company for an informal coffee to discuss potential employment opportunities. If an employer has two similar CV's in front of them, one of whom they've met the week previous for a coffee and they've shown themselves to be an amicable person, then that's the person they are going to put on task.
Social media is becoming an ever more important tool in helping people find employment. Companies like G4S actively use Twitter to advertise jobs. There is a whole myriad of facebook groups based around employment in the security industry and it's probably the most hotly discussed topic on the forums. LinkedIn provides a great opportunity for you to showcase your e-CV so you should spend time on it to ensure it is absolutely perfect as you have with your written CV. You can use Twitter to direct people to your LinkedIn profile or establish a relationship with someone within a company which you're aiming to apply to and then send your CV direct to them before building up to meet them in person.
But sometimes If you are using social media to find work then you may have to sacrifice what might be the more social side of social media. First impressions really do count and your first impressions on social media can be just as important as your first impression at an interview. You wouldn't walk into an interview wearing jeans and a t-shirt, so be very careful about how you come across and other peoples perception of you on social media. When started threads, or commenting on posts, try to stay neutral and professional rather than descending into political views or using offensive language. Make sure that what you are writing is balanced, spelt correctly and has good use of English language. It's always worth after writing a thread, or commenting on a post, just pausing before you publish it and asking would i employ someone who posted information like this? Remember only 1% of people signed up to social networking groups actually play an active role. The majority just like to view the information available, therefore it is this other 99% who you also need to keep onside as you never know when you might be asking them for employment. Work hard on your social media, don't just amass a list of friends or contacts but actually spend some time getting to know those who could help you find employment.
By using this multilayered approach it will allow you to ensure your CV is absolutely faultless before sending it off. It will add structure to the way you go about finding employment rather than using the same methods every day. It will allow you to focus on jobs that are suitable to you, with companies that are recruiting and ensure that when you do send your CV off that it goes to the right person. The industry isn't going to get any easier to find employment in so the more effective that you can make your applications, the more likely you are to land your first job or that next role to progress your career.
The Security Advisor
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