Strategies for developing your security career during the COVID-19 pandemic
Are you doing the job you want? Seize the opportunities afforded by the pandemic and develop a career strategy that will give you a sense of autonomy and ownership of your future.
“Never let a good crisis go to waste” – famously uttered by Winston Churchill, just after the Second World War – rings true to this day. Just as the war did, the COVID-19 pandemic has undoubtedly thrown the world into a state of crisis. We do not fully know, nor can we fully control, the outcome. Yet, we are slowly starting to adapt to this new normal and its challenges.
One major challenge in times of crisis is to uphold security on every level: individual, organisational and societal. The private security industry shoulders some of these responsibilities and a global pandemic adds emphasis to the role played by the private security industry in general, and its individuals in particular.
Maintain your skills and knowledge
So, what can the individuals working in the private security sector do to not let this crisis go to waste? From a career perspective there are many opportunities to not only maintain but also develop, with the knowledge that increased demand for security services also toughens competition. It is, therefore, important to maintain whatever knowledge, skills and behaviours that you have acquired in the position that you are in. From there, the next step is obviously to capitalise on the crisis- induced opportunities and develop your career further.
Create a career strategy
If you are looking for career development that is personally rewarding, that makes you better at what you do, and that provides purpose, doing something that has meaning and is important: create a career development strategy. This will give you a sense of where you are, where you want to go, and the opportunities and challenges you may face. A well-crafted strategy will allow you to focus on your aspirations and keep you on track, the latter facilitated by integrating SMART targets to your strategy. Throughout your career there are many choices. Some lead to achievements, others to setbacks. Having a clear strategy will not only help you make better decisions, but also allow you to recover more quickly when things do not go as planned.
Using a pre-set strategy
Now, designing a suitable strategy, let alone implementing it, can pose a significant challenge. One solution can be to go for one of the pre-existing strategies for career development, embodied through a number of different industry certifications. These will not only provide you with new skills and knowledge but will also be a recognition of your acumen within the industry. Further, the seal of quality conveyed by many certifications is increasingly becoming a requirement for advancement. The benefits of following such a pre-set path is that you come out of it with solidified competencies and a strengthened position in terms of career opportunities within the security sector.
If you are working within infosec and want to expand your responsibilities and move towards managemen, the Certified Information Security Manager [CISM] certification provided by ISACA may be the right route for you.
Moreover, if security management is what you strive for and you already have a few years of experience, then the Certified Protection Professional [CPP] by ASIS may often be the gold standard. Conversely, if you are new to the industry, obtaining the Basic Private Security Officer certification followed by becoming a Certified Protection Officer, both provided by the International Foundation for Protection Officers [IFPO], can be an excellent starting point.
Weighing the options
The examples mentioned are by far not the only ones out there and choosing the most appropriate require some consideration. Think about the ideal career scenario, and then do some research into what qualifications would facilitate reaching that. Reflect on your personal attributes, including current skills, experience, knowledge and qualifications. Include everything from both your job and your outside interests. Then discuss these with your friends and colleagues for their views. As things become more clear, start developing your career development strategy, outlining a plan to achieve this scenario. This should include your overall aims and objectives, the goals and milestones along the way. Then devise the steps you need to take in the short, medium and long term.
In the UK there are several industry organisations that can offer advice and support to your career development strategy. There are local actors, including the Security Institute and Guild of Security Industry Professionals. Some of the major global organisations, such as ASIS International and ISACA, have local chapters in the UK. Recently, the IFPO also opened a local chapter in the UK, dedicated to enhancing the career potential of security practitioners. Reach out to any of these and you will get help to realise your ambitions in a strategy for career development.
As everyone in the security industry should know, ‘preparatus supervivet’ (the prepared survive), and in terms of preparedness to advance your career, doing nothing will get you nowhere. Use this moment in time to develop a career strategy that will give you a sense of autonomy and ownership of your future. If you already do – great, if you do not – start grafting, and remember that if the best day to start was yesterday, the second best is today.
Dr Peter Stiernstedt CPP, CISM
Disclosure: While the author is a member of the IFPO UK Advisory board, any and all views and opinions presented are proprietary and do not officially represent any organisation or affiliation.