Being out of work for a long time is every security professionals nightmare. 90% of men and women on the protection circuit have experienced periods with a shortage of work and it certainly isn’t a pleasant experience. With Iraq and Afghanistan ramping down, Marsec (Maritime Security) gigs are few and far between, it seems the circuit is becoming tougher and tougher industry to get work in. Many are literally craving for employment, competition is fierce and salaries have dropped dramatically.
Companies are out there to make money, and some are so ruthless they would rather employ inexperienced operators from third-world and Eastern European countries who are willing to work for 100$/day rather than more experienced personnel who can provide the right service and who have spent thousands of pounds on adequate frontline training.
At the same time that I am writing this article, there are thousands currently out of work and doing all they can to either get back into employment or get their foot in the door.
Appearing desperate, begging for work on social media outlets such as Facebook and LinkedIn, spamming the internet and security companies for work has never helped anyone find employment. That way of doing things actually has a reverse effect and puts people off, potentially damaging your reputation in the process.
Searching for employment is not to be taken lightly and it should all be planned like a military operation. You need to start as you mean to go on, and when searching for employment you should act the same way as you would when you are on task. Discipline, careful planning, carrying out prior intelligence and due diligence, motivation, and keeping your head up even when the going gets tough are just a few things you will need to make it and get employment. Use these search tactics for out of work security professionals for guidance to help keep your process organised and improve your chances of success.
Be harsh on yourself and don’t leave any room for amateurism. The more time and effort you put into your job search, the greater your chances of being employed quickly. You should view the job search as a competition and you should wake up every morning without feeling depressed and instead like a fighter who intends to win the competition.
How and where do I start?
- First of all, plan ahead and study the industry you want to work in Close Protection (CP), Maritime Security (Marsec) etc..
- What is your background? Are you former military or civilian?
- What qualifications do you have and do you have the necessary qualifications to enter the CP/Marsec industry?
- Study and assess your own profile, for example, if you have no military background do you really have enough qualifications and knowledge to target working in the Hostile Environment CP industry? Would it not be better to try and break into the UK CP market or European based CP jobs for instance?
- If you have no military background, bare in mind that the other operators applying for the HE jobs often have 10 years+ military experience, having completed tours in Iraq and Afghanistan.
- The aim is to get yourself into employment quickly, dreaming of something that isn’t going to happen will waste yours and also the recruiter’s time.
- A few exceptions have been known, where Close Protection Operators (CPO’s) with non-military backgrounds have made it and succeeded in Hostile Environment (HE) work, however, they are in the minority and, I would suggest, it is better sticking to realistic goals if you want to be employed fast.
- Always try and be realistic, and before starting your job search make sure you have the right qualifications as sending a CV without sufficient qualifications is the first step towards getting a bad reputation. This approach will lead to your CV being binned, your email address getting blocked, and you will be known as a person who can’t follow simple instructions, as most job offers give clear indications on the qualifications needed in order to apply.
- Once you have realistically defined where your profile, background and qualifications are best aligned, you should now plan accordingly and it is much easier to search when you know what you are looking for.
Contact all Companies
Once you know what type of work you can do and where you can do it, you need to start your research. You can easily create a list of companies by using Google. A simple search term like “close protection companies” can bring up hundreds of results. You can target the location you would like to work in, using the search term “Close Protection companies Iraq”, for example, will help you find specific companies operating in Iraq.
Another great way of searching for companies is to join the Asset Protection Index (Aprodex). They have quite a large database of companies.
They have large lists of companies providing CP, Marsec, Surveillance, Technical Surveillance Counter-Measures (TSCM), Security Management and other security-related services.
Open a word or Excel document to list every single company you come across. This isn’t pleasant and it is hard work but it helps a lot. In the document, write down the name of each company you are interested in applying to, list their email address, phone number, website, and a few details such as the history of the company, name of the CEO, year the company was formed and places it has operated in. Then Google the company for research purposes and get a general feel for its reputation. The last thing you want is to find yourself working in a remote location for a brand new company headed by ‘Walter Mity’s’ who have not paid you and are no longer answering your calls. Or worse still, finding yourself in a Papua New Guinea jail without any support or assistance.
Send your CV to each company, remembering to include a cover letter. Do not forget to mention various things about the company you are writing to, this shows you carried out research before applying for the job and will present you as a diligent candidate.
Follow up a few days later with a phone call. This can also be done the other way around by phoning the company, to begin with, and politely asking if you can send them your CV. Ask for the name of the person you speak with so that you’re able to refer to the phone conversation when you follow up by email, this will make your email seem less ‘out of the blue’.
WARNING: Do not CC 500 different security companies into a single email. I have seen this done before, it lacks respect and your CV will be ‘binned’ immediately, blacklisting yourself in the process. It takes time but you will need to contact each company individually. Tip: Use your excel document to record the companies you have contacted, make note of when you follow up, write what their response was and list the date you need to contact them again if they ask you to resend your CV a few months down the line.
Your own contacts
Let all your contacts know you are out of work, including past employers (where you left on good terms), and past training providers also. Ex-military operators usually have a better chance of finding employment using this method as they will naturally know many friends/acquaintances, who they served with, working in the CP or Marsec industry who would be willing to put them forward for positions.
Facebook can be a good way to keep in touch with your contacts and also used to find employment. Make sure you have the right security settings on your Facebook profile so only your trusted contacts can view your page and see what you write on it. Many security operators who use Facebook will share job vacancies, and they typically talk about work, their employer and perhaps even the contract they’re working on, which will give you early warning of vacancies before they’re advertised. If you have a lot of ex-military contacts then Facebook can be a good way to find a job. Many companies will have their own Facebook page and will use social media to advertise positions and search for candidates.
Of all the social media platforms, LinkedIn is perhaps the best for finding employment. You can connect with the top security companies, HR staff and other operators. You will be able to view job vacancies as they are posted, create a professional looking profile for yourself, and even upload your CV and list the relevant skills you possess. People you’re connected to can then write recommendations for you on your profile, endorse you, and you will be able to join various groups dedicated to CP, Marsec, Surveillance and anything else you are interested in.
Job vacancies sites
Add job vacancies websites to your favourites tab on your PC so that you can navigate to them quickly and browse them each morning after you wake up. Wake early and prioritise your search, as it really is a case of “First come first served”. Many vacancies are often filled in 24 hours so apply fast and always be ready to deploy on short notice.
Here is a list of some popular sites which list vacancies in the security industry:
I have bought memberships with many associations and spent a small fortune. The only membership I renew year in year out is with the British Bodyguard Association. It is my 5th year as a member and during the past 5 years I have found jobs, made a few very good contacts, and I have learnt a lot through the BBA forum as well as through the articles on the Circuit Magazine.
Keep up-to-date with the industry by reading magazines
Keeping in sync and up to date is very important when you are looking for employment, our industry is constantly changing and things move very fast. I remember the days when the FAAW (First Aid at Work) was all the medical qualification that was required. These days, the standards for medical qualification have certainly changed and without the FPOS-I it seems your chances of finding employment are very low indeed.
Make sure you get every issue of the Circuit magazine, it is written by security operators from all areas of the industry so you get up-to-date and accurate information on the current happenings throughout the industry, qualification requirements, new equipment etc.…
Forums are probably one of the best ways to find employment. You can make good contacts by joining forums, you will get daily industry news, you can chat with other operators that work in various parts of the globe, daily job vacancies. Information travels very fast on forums, you can get quick advice and responses to any of your questions, you can get help on various issues and the greatest thing about forums is that you can be in the UK and in a matter of seconds you can get an answer to what is going on in Libya from an operator that is on the ground and right in the thick of things!
Close Protection World is a forum that has been going for a few years now, job vacancies are posted daily, there is some good information to take from it, but the downside to CPW is that it has no security measures in place and anyone can join the forum making it easy for people with bad intentions to infiltrate it.
Close Protection Domain is a new forum. This forum is professional and members have to be vetted in order to gain full forum access. It is the most secure CP/Marsec/Surveillance forum out there and threads are not open source. Job Vacancies are posted daily and threads are interesting. The downside to it is that it is still fairly new and there aren’t a large number of members on it.
There is a US based forum called SOCNET, which isn’t too bad also. No security measures in place and all posts are open source, but some good information can be taken from it.
Gathering intelligence is of high importance when you are looking for employment. Various websites can help you gather intel which puts you one step ahead in your job search. I particularly like Intelligence Online which often provides intel on contracts the big security companies have.
This means you can send your CV to the company before the information on the contracts even gets out and about. Various US Gov websites also have up to date information on DoS and DoD contracts around the world and which companies are on these particular contracts.
Private Military is also a good website to gather intelligence.
David Isenberg from the Huffington post also writes many interesting articles
A List of security-related blogs & sites with good information on employment:
Networking in person
Try to attend networking meetings organised through the British Bodyguard Association (BBA) or other associations, and look to attend annual industry events such as the Counter Terror expo.
Be professional at all times, never give up the job search and remain highly motivated each day. Always seek to help others along the way, apart from it being ‘a good thing to do’, reciprocity is one of the best ways to get others to help you. Pay close attention to your appearance, CV & cover letter – first appearances really do matter.
I won’t wish you the best of luck as finding employment isn’t based on luck, it is based on how much time and effort you are willing to put in!
I genuinely hope this article will help fellow operators and those looking to break into the security industry, it’s a fantastic environment to work in and very rewarding. See you on the Circuit!
Close Protection Specialist