Are you prepared to be security screened for a role in the security industry?
Whether starting out in security or moving roles, security screening is now a key part of the process of getting a new job.
These vital checks aim to assess whether you can be entrusted with the security of people and their property and, in some cases, whether your current circumstances make you vulnerable to coercion and therefore a potential risk, rather than an asset to the organisation.
To stay in business, it is often mandatory for organisations providing security products or services to security screen employees for them to maintain the accreditation or approval ratings needed to operate. So do not underestimate the importance of security screening in the path to your career success.
The level of security screening will depend on the role, but bear in mind the process takes 4-5 weeks on average, with a maximum of 12 weeks permitted. So you can help make this process as smooth and speedy as possible, and increase your chances of shining as a candidate, by making full preparations.
Your Career History
Keep a detailed record of your career history, in particular the most recent 5 years. You need to keep the start and end dates of the positions you have held on a day/month/year basis. As time passes, it is surprisingly easy to forget these details. One way to keep track is to ask each employer as you leave for an Employer Reference: just stating start and end dates, a brief comment on your performance, attendance and time keeping. Remember that an Employer’s Reference comes from the organisation and that a Character Reference comes from an individual who knows you on a personal basis, so you may like to ask your line manager or a colleague for a Character Reference too.
Periods of self-employment/owning your own company
If you have worked for yourself, having client trade references confirming the work completed including dates will assist in providing the required evidence. In addition, details of your accountant and bank will be useful.
Accounting for Gaps in your Career
It is important to be able to account for career gaps. Do not be unnecessarily worried about revealing periods of unemployment. This is a fast-moving world – redundancy happens to most people at some point. Indeed, claiming benefits during the periods of unemployment provides clear evidence to explain the gap.
There are many other legitimate reasons for career gaps, but if you have no documentary evidence for your day-to-day activities you may need to provide a character reference from someone who knows you and what you were doing – perhaps a neighbour or friend who has seen you regularly. For example, if you have been full-time caring for children, the elderly or infirm, you may need to provide verification for this time. If you have not claimed benefits and no other documentation is available, this will mean a character reference is needed.
Periods out of the country
When you travel or live abroad for long periods, keep a record of the dates and locations. Passport stamps will show where you have been. If you have been out of the country for more than 6 months, it will be necessary for a criminal records check to be made in the country where you resided, so accurate details of your time abroad will be needed. If possible, get a criminal disclosure check from the country you have resided in before you leave. This will speed up the security screening process.
If your most recent 5 years history includes attendance at school, college or university, you need accurate records of this. The screening process will ascertain if you were full-time or part-time, the dates between which you attended and whether there were any extended periods of absence.
Checking your credit
In all circumstances, checks will be made about your credit history – this is known as the Consumer Information Report (CIR). This is not the same as checking your credit worthiness by those lending you money: no trace of the CIR will be left and it will have no implications for other credit checks you have.
The CIR will examine the electoral role for your current and previous addresses of the most recent 5 years and who else lives at these addresses. In addition, it will check whether you have any outstanding County Court Judgments, whether you have filed for bankruptcy/insolvency and whether you have any outstanding debts of more than £10,000, individual voluntary arrangements (IVA) of more that £15,000 and debt relief under £15,000.
Police Checks – Disclosures
Depending on the role for which you are being security screened, varying levels of information held about you can be requested from the police – these are known as “disclosures”. This process is covered by the Rehabilitation of Offenders Act 1974, which defines when criminal offences are “spent”, or no longer disclosed. This depends on the sentence received for them, for example a minor offence resulting in a fine may be spent after 1 year has lapsed. A serious offence involving a long prison sentence will never be spent.
Be open about any previous convictions from the beginning, they will not necessarily rule you out of a job. However, if you have convictions for serious offences, there are certain roles you will never be able to take up.
In this modern world, security screening plays an important part in keeping us all safe.
You can make this easy for yourself and prospective employers by keeping your documents and certificates in a safe place and keeping simple records about your life and career. This means if you need to be security screened it is a straightforward task and gets you to the job you want quickly and efficiently.
Paul D Wallis, Managing Director
National Security Screening Agency