Following on from part 1 of this article I will now talk about what to expect once you have completed your Close Protection Training, and have received your Security Industry Authority (SIA) licence. This is a loose guide, as circumstances are always different, however it should give you an idea on what to expect. If you haven’t already read part 1 of this 2 part article then you can read it here: Bodyguard: The Reality – Part 1 of 2.
The first thing that you have to bare in mind is that you are now the new guy in a large industry. Regardless of what you did before, you are now at the bottom of the experience ladder, unless of course you were previously working within military or law enforcement close protection. So what does this mean to you, the operator? Well, unfortunately for you it means that you are unlikely to jump straight into a close protection detail, and although to some of you this may seem a bit hard to swallow, there are good reasons for it. Look at it from a client’s point of view. Would you rather have a “rookie” responsible for your security and that of your family, or would you rather have an experienced operator performing the same task? It’s obvious really when you think about it. Likewise a company is unlikely to hire you fresh out of training for a close protection task. These jobs are worth a lot of money to security companies and they want their best people on them. Of course there are exceptions to the rules, especially if you have completed one of the big recognised courses. Something else that you need to consider is that this is not the sort of industry where on the job training works. You need to know exactly what you’re doing and have the confidence to do it otherwise people may get hurt. Your job as a Close Protection Officer is to protect, which may mean putting yourself in harms way. So with all that in mind, you have to be prepared to do other work, as this is what will get you started in the security industry. Festival and event work, door work and residential security tasks are all things that can get you contacts and build up your CV.
Networking The Security Industry
Networking within the security industry is a must, particularly in Close Protection. A lot of work is not advertised on job‘s boards or the internet because it is important to know and trust the people you are working with. This creates a dilemma for the newly trained Close Protection Operator. You can’t apply for jobs if they’re not advertised, so what do you do? You network with fellow Close Protection Officers. The first way to do this is to stay in touch with everyone on your course. Remember these guys are in the same boat as you, and if they get a lucky break, they may just be able to throw some work your way too. Get yourself a professional looking email as well. Johnthebodyguard@hotmail.com or firstname.lastname@example.org are not suitable and will get your emails deleted before they are read. John.email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org are both acceptable and professional looking. Get some business cards professionally made, and hand them out to other operators you meet and potential clients, as one day these people might just be looking for someone to recruit. A point to note about this is to NEVER give out business cards on a job, unless you have permission from the person who is running the job or employing you. This industry is based on reputation and carding potential clients while working for someone else is a quick way to get a bad one! Join websites that talk about the industry and interact with people on there. Some of these websites hold networking functions: GO TO THEM! It’s a great place to meet like minded people in the same industry looking for work and when you start out in the security industry you need as many contacts as you can get.
The next thing to do should be to get your CV together; actually this should be happening alongside your networking attempts. Here are some key points about writing your CV and cover letter:
- You cover letter should NOT be generic. Alter a few lines each time to make it more personal to each and every company that you send it to. Yes it’s time consuming but you’re embarking on a career here, or at least trying to. This isn’t some get rich quick scheme. And do NOT, under any circumstances, make the cover letter chatty. Words such as mate, fella and the like have no place in a cover letter or CV, or in any professional correspondence at all for that matter
- Tailor your CV to the job specifics. What I mean by this is that if one of the prerequisites of the job you’re applying for is that you must speak French then have French near the top of your qualifications/abilities list. Keep the deep sea diver qualifications at the bottom, unless of course it’s needed for the job. Tailor your abilities list so that the most relevant are near the top.
- Make your CV stand out, but keep it professional. If you’re sending paper copies out then use a decent quality off white paper. How many people do you think send out their CV on plain white A4? A lot. Use a quality paper to make it stand out in the pile, and add some colour or shading to the CV. I’m not talking about adding pictures of flowers or anything here, but give your header a nice standard tone colour. Again this will make it stand out. Add a background shade or something of the sort, again, nothing too bright and keep it professional looking.
- Keep the details short and sweet. If you’re ex-military, you do not need to explain every last detail about how guard duty is performed, and stay away from acronyms.
- Keep it to two pages. This may seem like a hard task to some, but if you remember to keep the information relevant to the position you are applying for then this should not be a problem.
- Remember to always add your contact details. The amount of CV’s I have seen with no contact details on is shocking. You may be thinking “well I emailed it to them, so they have my email” well yes, but CV’s aren’t often read online. They are generally printed off and the paper copy is read so that notes can be made on it. The person going through the CV’s might not have access to the email account that they’re received into, meaning yours will likely be filed in that little round filing cabinet on the floor, aka the bin!
- And finally is to NEVER lie on your CV. You WILL be found out, eventually. This industry is a very close knit one, and you will find yourself constantly bumping into either old friends or people that know friends of yours.
These are just some basic points about CV and cover letter writing. To have your CV professionally written then head over to Security CV and drop them a line. Security CV do great work and offer some amazing advice. They also have packages available to custom write your Security CV for you if you feel it is too much of a daunting task to do it yourself. I have seen the work they do and it is very good. Their CV’s are very sharp looking and very professional, and would certainly stand out in any pile.
After you have your CV sorted and have started to network, the key is to not give up. It will be a long road due to the overcrowded security market, but it is not an impossible task to find work. Take any job you get offered to begin with as it is these jobs that will help you to build up your reputation and contacts. Be honest with employers when it comes to other tasks. If you end up booked on a job and get offered something else, politely decline stating that you’re currently on a job and explain that you won’t just walk off of it. This will show that you have integrity and are not going to just jump ship every time something better comes along. When Approaching companies for work, call them and ask to speak to someone in HR or recruiting. Check that they are recruiting and get a name: address your cover letter and CV to them directly. Do not send your CV to companies that have specifically said they are not recruiting and always double check a company’s website. There is nothing worse than receiving an email stating “I’m applying for your position advertised” when you know full well that your website states “not currently recruiting”. If you can, meet with the recruiters of these companies. Some, not many, will tell you to pop in for a coffee if you’re in the area. If it’s feasible, try and set this up. Meeting face to face is one of, if not the best, forms of communications there is.
Be prepared to deploy at the last minute. The shortest notice I have had for a job is a call at 15:00 with me needing to be an hour away by 19:00. Have a kit bag and a suit ready to go with basic kit such as a wash bag, spare underwear and clothes etc, etc. It will save you a lot of rushing around for last minute jobs. Something I always advise people to also do is to make sure you have some cash put to one side to buy required kit that you don’t yet have. For example I was once tasked with working at a corporate function for wealthy clients at a London hotel. The hotel staff wore black shirts as part of their uniform and the client wanted the security team to blend in as much as possible. This meant I had to go out and buy some black shirts last minute as I didn’t own any due to a black shirt generally being a no-no for corporate security and close protection work when wearing a suit. Likewise on a completely different task I have worked on I had to purchase black combat trousers the day before deploying for 5 weeks.
The Close Protection industry is very seasonal and this is something that you need to consider. During the winter periods there is a lot less work available.
Never stop networking. I keep in touch with guys I haven’t worked with for a few years because you never know what is around the corner. Networking really is the key to breaking this industry and as long as you work hard and stay truthful to yourself and to those around you then you should do well. Looking for Close Protection jobs is not easy. You may have already found through research, and as I have already mentioned that there are not a lot posted around the internet.