Getting Work in the Security industry

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Getting the “good”  jobs in the security industry

The security industry right now is in a strange position. There are more licences in circulation than there are security roles yet there is still a shortage of staff in the industry. The problem isn’t quantity for employers it’s quality. Hiring a person is easy, hiring the right person is something else entirely. We could argue all day long about employers paying low wages and poor conditions etc but let’s face it moaning about it on here isn’t going to change that. It also brushes over the fact that there are good employers both in-house and contract out there who do treat employees well and have great teams working for them. This article not about employers though. It’s about employees and how you can go about getting “good” work in the industry. I’ve been on both sides of that equation so here’s my views on the subjec

 Two sides to every coin

While it’s true that there are good employers and bad employers the same is true for employees. If you are one of those good operatives who is either seeking employment or seeking to move employer the onus is on you to find the right employer. As above, finding a job is easy, finding a good job is much more difficult. Bearing in mind that those good jobs are few, are in high demand and are competed for by the best candidates then you need to stand out from the crowd in order to be successful.

Before you start

Before even thinking about going out and looking for work I recommend that you ask yourself a simple question.
“Why do I want to be a security operative or door supervisor?”
If the answer to this question involves getting into fights, putting people out of the venue,impressing people with acts of heroism or meeting good looking people to spend romantic evenings in the back seat of a car then I suggest you find a gym or dating agency and not a job. The modern  security industry needs people working in it who want to make it a profession. There are many people who aspire to be a security operative or door supervisor for all of the wrong reasons and this usually ends up with negative results. Overly aggressive wannabe’s end up either injuring a patron or even worse causing a team member to be hurt because of their actions. The wannabe who just wants to impress potential love interest is usually nowhere to be seen when a crisis occurs. On top of this they both usually make themselves miserable working in a job that obviously isn’t for them. None of these outcomes are positive for the individuals involved or for the industry.
The  security industry needs professionals. You may not want to be in the industry for your whole life but you do need to want to improve the industry while you are in it. So I ask you to please ask yourself that question before looking for a job.

Where to look

While you may find, classified ads looking for security this is usually not the best place to start looking. In my experience, it is the last resort for venues to advertise here and speaks of a venues lack of care for the security position to just put an ad in the local paper. Reputable venues and security companies prefer to recruit through word of mouth and recommendation. The security position is one that can have a huge impact on your venue if done incorrectly so it is always preferable to have somebody who has been vouched for by a member of staff who you trust. So the starting point is to go to places where you will meet security  professional. This might include local gyms, martial arts venues or sports teams or venues or even to the local supermarket where they work. After that its about finding the venues that are hiring and making the right impression.
 I’ve compiled a list of do’s and don’ts below when it comes to gaining work in the industry.

Do’s

  1.  If there are legal licencing requirements to go through prior to working in the industry the have this completed prior to looking for work . Nobody is going to wait for you to start so be prepared.
  2. Call a venue during the day (late afternoon and early evening are usually good times) and ask if they are hiring. Ask to speak to a manager and enquire as to what would be a good time to come in person and speak to whomever hires security staff. Get a first name if possible.
  3. If you are calling to a venue call early in the afternoon/night (if it’s a bar/club) and ask for the person you wish to speak to.
  4. Dress professionally and present yourself as if you were going to work.
  5. Bring an up to date CV with you but also try to get an email address to send a digital copy. I know from experience that a CV handed to me at the door is very lucky to make it through the night and to the office for a follow up. Similarly a CV handed into a busy reception area will rarely make it to the right desk.
  6. If you know somebody who works there and who is willing to vouch for you then mention it. Always mention this to your friend first.

Donts:

  1. Don’t show up at a venue at rush hour when the place is in full swing and the  security are busy and then ask to speak to the head of security. It just isn’t going to happen and it shows a complete lack of understanding of the industry.
  2. If your looking for work on a door dont  go looking for work while on a night out with your mates while you are having a few drinks. From experience, there is nothing more annoying than the guy after a few drinks who hangs around the door talking to door supervisors and then asks for a job.
  3. Don’t get involved or try to help out if you see an issue to try to impress the security team. Believe it or not this happens so let me tell you how it looks. If I am removing/arresting/de-escalating somebody and another patrons attempts to get involved he/she will be treated as a risk until I’m satisfied that they aren’t. If you are seen to be getting involved in a conflict situation you will be removed and you are your job prospects will be left on the footpath.
  4. Don’t embellish or falsify your CV. The security industry is close knit and a Head of Security in a good venue will know people all over a local town or city and will have connections even further afield. Even if they don’t your lack of experience will be obvious once you start work.

Going for interviews

If you are going for interviews all the above will still apply. Interviews for the security
industry are like any other. Be prepared, be professional and be yourself and you will be fine. Some tips below:
  1. I mentioned it above but dress as you would expect to see a security operative. The interviewer needs to be able to visualise how you will look representing their venue so help them showing up in some shirt and trousers and a pair of shoes. Showing up in jeans and a t-shirt makes you look like a patron or customer.
  2. Do your research. Look at the social media sites. Why do staff and customers go there? Have they any  events are coming up? What interesting things  they done previously? Is the customer  profile obvious?
  3. Take a walk around the venue of you can and make yourself familiar with it. You may be asked about the venue so the more you know the more comfortable you will be to talk about it.
  4.  Make sure your CV is up to date and suited to the  security industry. If you have done some form of training in the industry tell them who it was with. This is just as important as the training itself.
  5. Try to be yourself. How your personality fits with the culture and group dynamic is important. I have people with excellent skill sets not do well in a venue simply because their personality doesn’t fit with the customers or the staff. Not that this is intentional but it just makes the work environment more difficult and the employment is usually Short lived.
  6. Leave your ego at the door. Nobody is looking to hire a tough guy. Trying to look or act tough will not get you hired. It will almost certainly have the opposite effect. Confidence is good, ego isn’t.
  7. Be prepared to start immediately. Most venues are quite reactive when it comes to hiring.
 

CV’s

Take a good look at your CV. Download a template such as the one from our resources page and fill it out carefully. Make it specific to the job you want. Don’t just print a pile of generic CV’s and hand them out. Employers will notice and you won’t stand out. Nothing says I dont care like an [insert job name] mistake on your CV or cover letter.  Whether you’re  actively seeking a new role or not its always a good idea to keep your CV up to date. You never know when opportunity may come knocking.

Summary

There are different grades of jobs just as there are different grades of security operatives. If you think you are in the top bracket you owe it to yourself to look for the best job possible not just the one which is available. If you are struggling to find work its probably one of 3 three things. Either your CV needs work, your approach or interview technique needs work or you haven’t done the right research to find the right role. All 3 can be fixed with a little work. The key thing is to not sell yourself short and put the work in. It might be easier to get a job when your in a job but if that job is unsafe and damaging your reputation or morale then is it really worth it?

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