What will land you an outstanding applicant?
It is true that the person that can really muck it up is you, as either the hiring person or applicant. Reasons are varied, but in most instances this is down to miscommunication of the role, unrealistic expectations of skills, misunderstanding of the purpose of the role and underestimation as to what the role can achieve.
In many situations, the people in security are not valued as the business managers that many are. Traditionally, people from formal backgrounds have seen the corporate and industry sectors as their preserve, but increasingly, security talent is grown by the sectors they are employed in.
MBA and MSc qualifications are getting to be the norm as applicants focus on security as a career choice and see the opportunities the world of security can offer. But this is against a backdrop where many employers have little to offer in job satisfaction?
As a global recruitment practice, we see what a diverse client base has to offer; it could be managing a consultancy in Mexico, Brand Protection in Hong Kong, Supply Chain security in Shanghai, Loss Prevention in Spain, high value security in Singapore, Risk Manager in Algeria, Regional Security Director in Moscow, Cyber Security Manager in Manchester, high net worth clients security in the City of London, or the requirement of the day.
Finding the right person
Finding the right person is hard. Even at the basic levels many employers struggle to find internal security team applicants with the temperament and willingness to take charge in situations of crisis, that, whilst rare, are no less monumental and critical to their colleague safety.
We would certainly suggest for such roles that clients consider assessment centres where you can replicate teamwork, stressful role play, analytical skills and certainly temperament; key components in the profession of security.
It certainly seems many organisations confuse experience with capability. Before Age Discrimination legislation, “must have held a senior management role for 5 years” would be carried in advertising jobs boards as if communicating a subtle skill only shared by several hundred applicants, rather than articulate what were the skills you would have expected to have developed. Good copy writers should be able to articulate the salient traits so that applicants without the skills can deselect themselves from the application process.
Recruiting talent into an organisation provides many challenges. Security management roles with a portfolio as wide as property to brand and reputational protection, fraud prevention, risk mitigation and loss investigation, information assurance and cyber security can be especially challenging in an organisation where there may be a limited number of specialists in this discipline.
Making the right decision
In many sectors, the risks and threats are fast paced, which can make an organisation vulnerable if the specialist in place is not being kept informed and educated through professional associations, like the City of London Crime Prevention Association. We do observe knowledge gaps when recruiting additional or replacement staffing; for example, an incumbent may have been in place for 5-7 years, they have a lack of professional exposure but have the confidence of the organisation, so they may choose the applicant with the least challenge to them rather than the best person for the role.
When organisations come to the job market they can also be confused, as many roles have developed rapidly in the past 5 years. In some circumstances roles have become a hybrid between two sectors. This is explained in part by convergence but in most organisations this equates to cost saving; rather, as we believe, it should mean “Knowledge Alignment”. For instance, is cyber security getting rid of problems or resolving and preventing them? With online fraud now one of fastest growing sectors of criminality, organisations are facing the fact that most crimes are initiated through “social engineered insiders”. Hence many organisations beef up the firewall without understanding that the threat is statistically already inside, which leads to disproportionate effort and resource, some 80% of spending being focussed outside the organisation.
The security profession offers a wide range of opportunities. In the vender sector there is estimated to be 500,000 employed, from licensed guards, investigators and engineers to those working in sales organisations.
Many clients rely on vendors to provide whole sways of services in outsourced models, making them the knowledge providers of tomorrow. The industry has traditionally offered opportunities for management talent to be developed, but in recent times, with shrinking operational margins, management functions have disappeared because of client cost cutting, leaving an inferior service that clients mistake for poor delivery, without realising that they are the architects of their own downfall.
In the corporate sector there are opportunities, but skills and qualifiable experience are required and the need to speak the language of business becomes a priority to many hiring organisations, regardless of the level of hire.
Peter French MBE CPP FSyl