How to change jobs in security
The security industry is finally returning to a stage where the demand for good security operatives is outstripping the supply. That’s not to say that there aren’t enough security staff out there but there certainly is a shortage of professional security staff out there who are becoming sought after. Those who have placed themselves well in a market are now in position to bargain with both current and prospective employers. That may not be the case for every employer and there are those out there who will replace you in a heartbeat with somebody who costs less. The good employers however, know the value of talent and there is a push among the better companies to retain that talent. In this article I want to talk about how security staff can make themselves a valuable commodity for employers who are in the market for talent.
The Security Market
Take a look around social media this week and you will see a range of what I would consider to be good security employers seeking staff. They are holding open days and recruitment drives and incentives for staff . Some are ding this out of a desire to attracts quality staff as part of a quality process. Others are doing it because of pressure from clients. Many of the larger corporate companies just simply will not accept sub standard security operatives from their providers and they aren’t afraid to pay for quality. In turn providers have to live up to these expectations and provide top quality security staff. The market for high end professional security staff who see this as a career does exist. It’s not easy to access and it’s not large but it’s there and it’s up to you to get yourself there.
Don’t undervalue yourself
If you feel like your worth €11.35 per hour then that’s what your worth. If you go to your employer and ask for a raise (if you genuinely deserve it) and are told no then what have to lose by looking elsewhere.
That being said there are a significant amount of chancers and wafflers out there as well. Guys who think they are worth more than they are paid and that they are God’s gift to security. In reality they have done nothing to show that they deserve more money or responsibility. They shout about 4, 5, 10, 15 years experience as if it automatically should mean something but it doesn’t. Those who truly are worth more money develop themselves to a stage where they are truly worth the money.
Don’t overvalue yourself
Just because you have always dreamed of being the global Head of Security for a multinational corporation doesn’t mean your ready for the role. Be honest with your own capability. If you are not qualified or experienced enough yet that is fine. Go get qualified and experienced. Just because you aren’t ready now doesn’t mean you can’t get ready very quickly. There is no point with an out of date CV containing just a leaving cert result and a licencing course in applying for a more senior job or even a better paying job at the same level. You wont get it and will get demoralised very quickly. There is no problem with going through 3 jobs changes over a few years with a small pay increase (or even none) each time to get experience in different areas.
Keep your CV up to date
Your CV should always be up to date. It’s should be current and professional. Even if you aren’t actively looking for work this should be the case. It’s no harm to have a professional look over your CV even if this costs a few euro. If you don’t want the expense I have a CV template in the resources section on the website and a guide to filling it out. Regardless of what template you use make sure your CV contains all of the relevant material to show potential employers your experience and caliber as a security professional.
Keep a Continuous Development Plan
Every security operative who values themselves should be keeping a Personal Development and Training Plan. Its used to keep track of all of the training and upskilling you do to develop yourself as well as your future plans. Its for your own use only (although you can use it at interview if you like) and should be used to keep your CV up to date. To develop in this industry you need to be constantly learning and doing new things. I aim to do at least 2 accredited courses a year and at least one other learning or development experience per month. That could be going to a conference, webinar, online course or reading a book . They don’t have to expensive and many are free but is is essential. Log all of this training on your development plan and once a month use it to update your CV if necessary. It takes a half hour once a month to do but it sets you apart from the competition when it comes to job seeking.
Get on Linkedin
LinkedIn for those of you not familiar is a professional networking site. It is a great place to meet, interact and share information with your peers in the security industry. Its also full of recruiters who vary greatly in quality so exercise some caution here. I personally think the security community on LinkedIn is amazing. There are some really experienced and knowledgeable people in this industry all of whom are willing to share knowledge and support others. Go on Youtube and search for ‘LinkedIn profile tutorial’ and make sure you set up your profile correctly and with all of the right information. Then get out there and introduce your self to people you wish to connect with. It also allows people you have worked with to endorse you for skills or recommend your work. I’m on there as well and always happy to help so connect with me here if you wish.
Physical networking is very under rated. Don’t be afraid to walk up and introduce yourself to security managers in your local or chosen area. You don’t have to be actively looking for a job. Just a quick introduction to who you are and tell them you might send them a LinkedIn request later. The more people you know (and most importantly who know you) the better when you are seeking new employment. Go to local security meetings or even organise one yourself. Showing initiative like that gets your name out there.
Not all security companies are created equal. We all know this . There are some really great employers out there who are relatively unknown but who are great to work for. Research your potential future employers. See what is said about them and what kind of benefits they offer. Sometimes it will be a pay increase that is offered and other times it will be other factors they can offer such as contracts close to your home or other benefits. Take some time to research each company and decide which ones you would like to work for.
One of the greatest headaches for security employers is the need to do full background screening for new employees. One way to make yourself more employable is to help them out with that before you start looking for work. Have written references from previous employers on headed paper ready to go. If you are already working for a security company then ask for a copy of your screening that you can just bring with you to the next employer. This is something that all security providers have to have done and they must give you a copy of it. It will make you a lot more employable because you can save new employers time and effort and you can start immediately.
Don’t be shy
The last point I will make is not to be shy. We suffer from chronic low confidence in ourselves as an industry. For too long we have been seen and indeed seen ourselves as a job not a career and we are shy about putting ourselves forward. The modern security operative is a professional and you can present yourself as such. Put yourself out there as much as you can in meetings, appraisals and on LinkedIn. Don’t be afraid to ask for a pay increase if you feel you deserve it. Don’t be afraid to look elsewhere if you aren’t getting what you feel you deserve. Don’t be worried about moving jobs to get experience. Sitting and stagnating in a job because you are worried that if you ask for a rise then your hours will be cut is pointless. Go out there and get what you need to develop as a security professional. Don’t let anybody tell you what your worth. You define your worth through your work, your experience and your qualifications. The employment market will let you know what that worth is very quickly.
Changing jobs is a big move and one which hopefully you only have to do a few times in your life. For me its important to keep moving forward in this industry. That means putting yourself out there and making yourself the most employable person who walks through the door. Even if you aren’t actively considering changing jobs right now you should always be prepared just in case. CV and LinkedIn profile up to date and your name out there in the industry as somebody who is going places. Make your name and face the first thing in the mind of a potential employer when they begin thinking about recruiting.