Updated: Apr 27, 2021
As someone who is entering the security industry, or wanting to move to a different company, how can you set yourself apart from all the other applicants and increase your chances of getting that job you want?
The availability of jobs in the security industry, like many others, is largely dependent on the current, local economic situation. Sometimes times are tough and companies have to be diligent and strategic about how many resources they can hire or keep. Sometimes the economy is booming and it's easy to get one of the many jobs available. So how can you set yourself apart, so that regardless of the economy, you can position yourself well to get a job?
Well, we decided to do some research and find out for you! We chose a few leading security companies of different sizes what they look for in a highly-employable candidate and we compiled their answers into a simple list. We are excited to share with you below what they told us.
One small disclaimer: this list will likely increase your chances of getting a job but it will not guarantee you a job. In addition, most positions within companies will have specific requirements which are determined by the role, site, and/or client. We recommend checking the job description itself for these particular requirements.
Qualifications that set you apart
We've broken this list into three components to make it clear and easy to understand:
Personal qualities and skills
Training and education
As you go through this list, take an honest mental inventory of what you have/are good at, and what areas you need to work on or get more experience in. If you're not sure, ask someone who knows you well how you do in these areas.
1. Personal Qualities and Skills
Integrity refers to having a strong moral compass. It's important to live out qualities such as: reliability, trustworthiness, responsibility, maturity and professionalism, and to do it consistently. When you work as a security guard, you are the face of the company. You represent the company you work for, and likely a client that hired your company. People are depending on you to protect the physical assets and people that are in your area (depending on your role) and this must be taken seriously. As such, it's important to understand the consequences of the good or poor work that you do and take responsibility for your actions. Part of this also includes being willing to align with and practice the values of the company.
You don't have to be a supervisor of people to be a leader. Leadership starts with leading yourself first, and the ability to positively influence those around you even in entry-level positions. Self-leadership includes motivating yourself, being organized and punctual, and the ability to take initiative, such as knowing when to take action without prodding by management.
Teamwork and Interpersonal Skills
Teamwork is important, even if the role requires you to work alone. You will still need to interact with your shift supervisor, other guards you relieve or relieve you, and potentially the client's staff. It's also important to be able to collaborate and get along with a variety of different types of personalities, even ones that may be difficult to work with.
Having a positive attitude, regardless of the circumstances, is crucial to success in any industry. Working in security can be a challenging field, so no matter what happens on the job, it's important to always be professional and positive. Plus, employers want to know that you want this job - that you are enthusiastic and excited about it.
Another foundational skill is the ability to communicate effectively, clearly, professionally, and timely. It's important to be able to lead conversations with an empathetic and customer service (not blunt force) approach for patrons or clients who you serve. You must also know how to work through a conflict with someone who is emotional or aggressive. Communication also includes good written skills for report-writing purposes. Perfect english isn't expected but you should be able to describe all the key elements of an incident verbally and in written format. If you need some help with these skills, here are some courses that can help you develop your conflict management and tactical communication skills.
Thinking and Problem Solving Skills
The ability to recognize problems, and determine and propose creative solutions is also key. People who are constantly thinking of new ways to accomplish tasks add value to the team. It's also vital to be able to critically think and make decisions based on common sense and good judgement.
Always being eager to grow is key to success, whether it's through formal training, learning from your experiences, or receiving constructive feedback. It's important to be willing to learn and understand the company's policies and procedures. You'll need to know why certain protocols and procedures in place, and ask questions when you don't understand them or you don't think it makes sense to use them. Asking questions is vital in situations where you don't fully understand so you can make better decisions and grow in your knowledge of the industry.
Highly suggested qualities that may or may not apply for a specific position:
If you are applying for a position that includes shift work, there should be a gratitude for and a willingness to take every shift that's given to you, where possible. This may include having to work nights, split shifts, or other arrangements. Usually the more more work you take, the more work will be given to you. Someone who is picky with their shift will not be offered more shifts, or will not stay in the position long.
Adaptability and flexibility
Unless the position you are applying for is for a fixed site and client, you may be asked to work in different roles, for different clients and locations. If your security company has a contract to work at a site and that contract ends, you will likely be moved to another site. As such, it's important to be willing to adapt as your role changes, and as the company changes.
Ability to work in a fast-paced, high-pressure environment
Not all jobs are in a fast-paced or high-pressure environment, so look into the specifics of the job you're applying for to see if it applies. These are often reserved for more experienced staff, but there may be situations where you may be faced with this. Examples could be working at an event or festival, or where the client requires a heightened level of diligence.
Desire to grow in your security career
Generally, this is a highly-desirable trait and more applicable for those applying for non-casual or non-seasonal positions. (Casual or seasonal positions are temporary by nature, and are often filled by those with full-time jobs in other industries as a way to make some extra money.) Employers are more willing to hire and invest into staff who communicate that they want to grow in the company and develop their security career. This demonstrates a level of seriousness that you are taking with the position. Loyalty is important and an employer will choose someone who is committed to the company rather than someone who prefers to jump around to different companies or who want to leave the industry shortly.
Depending on the position you apply for, you may be spending your entire shift on your feet while you man a station or patrol an area. If you have a difficult time doing this now, spend some time to increase your body's strength and endurance. Of course, always check with your healthcare provider and take their guidance on this first.
2. Training and Education
Security Services licence
The first and most obvious one is: you must have a current, valid Security Services license in the province you want to get a job in. If you don't have one, or it's expired, you need to get that done first. If you are in Alberta, Tip of Spear is happy to walk you through this process starting with the Alberta Basic Security Training course.
Other security-related training
The position you are applying for may or may not need additional certifications. However, if you can take the initiative and complete additional training proactively on your own time, it demonstrates to the employer that you are serious and dedicated about wanting to enter the industry.
Other common certifications in the security industry include:
Standard First Aid
Other training which may be an asset would be those related to mental health, cultural sensitivity, diversity and inclusion, self-defence, communications and others such as this. A degree, diploma or any kind of higher education is not required, however, a time and/or financial commitment does demonstrate that you are willing to invest into your education and future, and that you are serious about your decisions.
If you have no experience
If you are entering the security industry, you may not yet have experience, and that's okay. The next best type of experience is in customer service, since a significant part of any security position is customer service.
It's also important to have an understanding of the security industry, and have reasonable expectations as to what to expect. This includes an understanding of shiftwork, service, and many of the qualities listed in the above section. If you have never worked in the industry before, we encourage you to do some research and ask people who are already working in the industry what it's like. If you don't know anyone who works in security, ask the people you know if they know anyone, or go onto LinkedIn and make some new connections.
If you have experience
If you have experience already in the security industry, that's great. Make sure it's on your resume and you can clearly articulate what you did in your role in an interview.
We would like to deeply thank those who contributed content to this article. Namely, Lionel Morrill from Quadreal, Robert Cardinal from River Cree Resort, and Shaziya Hasnain from GardaWorld. Your time and effort will help and inspire those newest to the security industry to be the best new applicants for yours and all other companies who hire security staff.
Final disclaimer: Please note that the content from this article are the opinions of the contributors themselves and not necessarily official information from the companies they work for.