Updated: Mar 29
Once you have completed your online training and are in a position to secure continuous employment, it is a crucial time to really analyze the skills and personal traits that will ensure your longevity in the security field, as well as give you the opportunity for increases in pay and career advancement in the industry.
Below is a list of important skills for individuals who aspire to be very good security guards and grow their careers. You may not have all the skills listed below at this time in your career, however all of them are skills that can be developed if you are willing to pay attention to them and put in the time for self improvement. Sometimes it can be hard to know if we are honestly good at these skills or not. If you're not sure, talk to your supervisor, coworkers and friends who are willing to be honest with you.
1. Master written and verbal communication
There will be many times when your ability to communicate effectively and clearly is needed on the job. Security guards often fill out reports, give verbal descriptions of situations they may have witnessed and assist and direct patrons in the areas they are working.
In terms of written communication, the first rule is to take your time and be precise in your information. Using strong descriptive language will always enhance a written report. Words like “first” and “next” are good, but it’s even better to say “at 11:05 am (something occurred) and at 11:08 am we received a request for help from (person A)”. Take notes of situations at work right after they occur to help you recall the events accurately. Reference those notes in your verbal descriptions when asked to recall a situation with your supervisor.
Make sure to use good grammar, and that your spelling is correct. Perhaps the most important thing is to proofread everything before you submit. Ask yourself, if I was reading this for the first time, would I be able to completely understand the situation?
As for verbal communication, you must develop a process to deliver key information. Start at the beginning, highlight and perhaps repeat some of the key information.
Do not rush
Clarify if needed
Do not assume that people understand exactly what you are trying to say
If English is not your first language, make efforts to improve during your free time. You can take classes or read books and magazines out loud to someone, so they can challenge you to be better in your delivery. There are also all kinds of free apps and resources available to help you improve your speaking and understanding skills.
2. Polish your people skills
We all know someone who is great to be around. They make us feel relaxed, and we enjoy talking to them. Your job as a security guard is to give this same feeling to the people around you – both other security guards and the public at your worksite.
When you develop great interpersonal (people) skills, you will come across as competent and professional and you will earn people's trust. You may get better situational information from them, and you can also defuse tense situations better.
A security guard’s best tool is their presence, demeanor, and calm control in difficult moments – these all come from developing your interpersonal skills and empathy with those around you.
For example, if you are stationed at a worksite, and someone comes there every day to cause small mischief, you may be tempted to scold them and assert your authority. However, if you can talk to this person and create some understanding between you and them, they may start to naturally trust you and respect the area you are guarding. You will transition from an opposing force to a trusted acquaintance that they enjoy talking to. This is one way that people skills can make your job easier, and make a positive impact on the area you are tasked to protect.
3. Know the expectations and procedures
Every job has expectations and procedures. Sign the paper, clock in on time, keep your uniform tidy – they may seem like small details, but they are expectations for a reason.
Rules and procedures are usually created to help everyone avoid problems and to work as effectively and safely as possible. Especially in the security industry, guards must be aware of all the procedures outlined in their employee handbook and training manuals – many years of experience have gone into refining these procedures, to ensure that guards remain safe and effective on the job.
Know your emergency policies and procedures - they help you know what to do to stay safe and help you keep others safe too. For example, if you don’t know how to respond to a threat or a potentially dangerous situation at work, you could be injured or cause injury to someone else.
4. Maintain focused situational awareness
As a security guard, you are tasked with maintaining a safe and secure environment at your work site. This can mean reacting to problems and situations as they happen, but more importantly it means having the situational awareness to recognize and deter potential problems before they turn into real problems.
An example of good situational awareness is when you see someone potentially walking near merchandise that is frequently stolen. You have no reason to believe this person will steal anything, but you casually maintain a short distance between yourself and their location. You do not need to intervene, speak to them, or block their access to the merchandise – they have done nothing wrong, and you don’t want to give them a negative impression. However, because of your situational awareness, you are also lowering the chance that something will occur. Your presence is respected, and the property maintains a high degree of security.
5. Take care of your mental and physical wellness
You have probably heard that some cars require regular fuel, and some require premium (high octane) fuel to operate. The types of cars that require premium fuel are usually high performance vehicles, with high performance engines.
Your body is very similar to a high performance engine. When you consume nutritious food, get enough sleep, and exercise regularly, your body will operate at a high level.
To be effective as a security guard, you must often be operating at a high level, both physically and mentally. Whether you are conducting perimeter rounds, or monitoring surveillance footage, your body and mind must be in top condition to perform.
Everyone is different, and there is no “one-size-fits-all” approach to wellness, but you must determine what you can do to ensure you maintain physical wellness both on- and off-the-job so you can get the results you want from your mind and body. Don’t push yourself to your breaking point – if you do, you will not be able to function properly which can affect your performance at work. Get the rest and nutrition you need to recover and be ready to perform your job.
If you consider the 5 tips to becoming a better security guard as a path to growing your career, you will likely find success in the security industry. What’s even better, is that the above 5 tips will also help you overall in life outside of your career as well.
The job of a security guard can be demanding, but those who prepare properly and conduct themselves at a high level will be able to grow and develop their career and personal lives.