Let’s discuss how to successfully apply for close protection jobs by focussing on preparing your close protection CV.
The close protection sector is cut-throat and often described as ‘flooded’. Yet there is still a massive draw to the profession. Why? Perhaps the allure of the elusive high wages and luxury lifestyle promised by unscrupulous close protection training providers? Or maybe due to the influx of operatives returning from hostile work overseas, maritime security due to the ever-decreasing wages and work opportunities for ‘expensive’ UK nationals. Unfortunately, too many training companies are chasing a quick buck. They have no interest in maintaining high standards within the industry.
During the Covid-19 pandemic, many industries, including the private security industry, had a considerable decline in jobs. Many close protection operatives will have suffered and no doubt left the industry. However, many close protection operatives are ‘chomping at the bit’, eagerly awaiting the industry to regain momentum. The trend is to apply for every job vacancy that vaguely fits an operative’s skill set and experience.
According to the Security Industry Authority (SIA) statistics and as of June 2022, there were 15,446 UK close protection licence holders. Compare this to 14,670 in November 2020. That is over 5% more licensed operators during a global pandemic and national lockdown! Just think about that for a minute. Some of the recent increases may be down to lapsed renewals. However, newbies can not have received the same standard and level of training and experience as candidates on courses pre-lockdown. How could they when everywhere is closed, the streets and roads are empty? The competition for every job opportunity is incredibly high now more than ever. So, it is even more critical that an inexperienced operative makes every effort to stand out as suitable for an opportunity.
Many prudent and proactive close protection operatives will already have been ahead of the curve during the pandemic. They will have already taken stock of their employability. The professionals will have updated their CVs and conducted online CPD, as advised in our Covid-19 and the close protection industry article.
To stand out from the rest of the fifteen thousand other close protection operatives when applying for a job, applicants must first take a look at their CV. Their CV will be the first impression prospective employers have of them, and first impressions count! Studies have shown that recruiters decide whether or not to reject an application within 6-8 seconds of seeing a CV.
Many companies will use the initial application instructions for a vacancy as a ‘self-sifting’ process. A candidate not following the simplest of instructions when applying will mean they are instantly disregarded and classed as unsuitable. You only need to spend 2 minutes on LinkedIn to witness this with people simply writing “interested” or “contact me” on a detailed job post.
When a company requests a photograph of your head and shoulders, ensure that you include a headshot picture of yourself smartly dressed in a suit and tie. Failing to add any requested information or documents will result in a rejected application. It tells the employer that you have not read the basic instructions correctly, cannot follow orders, and have little or no attention to detail. As we all know, these are essential attributes for a close protection operative.
Do not include photographs of yourself in your shorts on the beach, in a gym, or worse still, a photograph with a previous celebrity client – it is not impressive and will not go in your favour.
Should you attach a photograph to every CP application as a default? There is no right or wrong way. It is down to personal preference. Some companies and recruiters may ask for more than one photograph, so have a couple of images saved. Keeping a full-length picture on file is always worthwhile as many companies and recruiters will ask to see a full-length photo of you. Again, you should wear smart business attire, and standing in front of a closed door gives them an idea of your height and width!
Create and save more than one CV. There is no one size fits all, so keep a template that you can adjust accordingly for each job application. The CV design should be simple, black and white, with a standard font type such as Times New Roman, Arial, or Calibri. Avoid bright colours, bold, and oversized fonts. A ‘jazzy’ colourful CV will likely be overlooked and seen as trying to mask something else. It certainly will not come across as professional. You are not applying to be a graphic designer!
Try not to overcomplicate the layout by filling the pages with boxes and lines separating each paragraph. Try to keep the overall CV length to two or three pages, less is more. You do not want to bore the reader by writing too much text or irrelevant information. Keep it succinct, sharp, and concise and use white space well.
Write your name clearly at the top. Drop the ‘Lord’ title your Mum bought you for Christmas. Ensure that your contact details, such as a telephone number and email address, are up to date. Include your SIA licence number. Make sure it is correct and up to date. Remember, if your CV falls into the wrong hands, someone may use all your personal information for criminal gains. So, do not include your home address. If asked to do so, list your region or county.
There is no right or wrong way but again, be wary of listing all your personal details. Most reputable security companies will need to see proof of specific documents and certificates for vetting once you have passed the first stage of recruitment. At this point, you should be able to share your details securely.
Carefully consider your email address. Many operatives fall foul of unprofessional and inappropriate email addresses such as [email protected] or [email protected] An amateur or even rude email address will certainly not favour you. It may put off a potential employer. The same goes for using a company email address.
When indicating your achievements, list the most recent and most relevant first. Show certificates as available upon request. There is no need to list your school achievements or cycling proficiency certificate. They are not applicable.
List your previous career history in reverse chronological order. So start from your last or current placement and work backwards. Recruiters want to see what you are currently doing and what you have most recently been doing. They do not want to read what you did ten years ago first. Each career history should be a short paragraph. Highlight critical points, including the job description, duties, and responsibilities, how long you were employed and your job title. Do not leave any gaps in the timeline. Such intervals only raise questions about why there is a break between jobs. Fill it with the truth, be it a career break or a period of unemployment.
Unfortunately, many close protection operatives will have found themselves with little or no work during the global pandemic. As a result, they may have taken on a non-security-related role to make ends meet. Taking other work is nothing to be ashamed of during those difficult unprecedented times. It would be best to list the positions you took during the quiet periods as this shows initiative and a willingness to work.
If you served in the military or emergency services, remember that your potential recruiter may not have done. So, they may not understand acronyms often used by the military and police, so do not use them. Especially true if you apply for an executive, corporate, or celebrity protection role.
Be honest with the information on your CV do not ‘Walt’ or bloat. A reputable security company will check you out. Expect to be vetted and have your background checked to verify if you indeed were a member of the special forces or if you think you saw them drive past once on exercise when you were on patrol/stagging on.
Do not mention any job roles that are ‘classified’. If they genuinely are classified, then do not mention them. List any security clearance you may have, such as Developed Vetting (DV), if it is relevant to the job vacancy.
Be truthful about your previous experiences. Do not claim to be an A-list celebrity bodyguard when you simply happened to work a particular event and helped to escort a celebrity to their car once. That does not make you their personal bodyguard, even if you were caught on camera. Nor does it make you vastly experienced in the celebrity protection sector.
Contrary to popular belief, it would be best if you did not name drop. Listing your previous principals or clients will ensure that your application is filed in the bin. Listing your previous clients proves that you lack integrity and confidentiality, which are key attributes of a professional close protection operative. You could be deemed a security risk. Many recruiters will try to obtain this information from you during the interview, and you should prepare your responses. Suppose you divulge too much personal information about your previous employers. In that case, it indicates that you may well do the same with a new employer/principal.
Concentrate on how you will validate your experience. Recruiters will ask for references. So, ensure that your referees are credible. Reputable employers will use your references as part of due diligence to validate your expertise and truthfulness. It is also helpful to ensure that your referee knows you have nominated them to give a reference for the vacancy. Do not underestimate the value of credible and viable references in an industry where confidentiality is vital. It is often a good reference that gets you a foot in the door.
Once you are satisfied that your CV is complete, check it for spelling and grammar, and save it as a template so you can alter it as and when required. Make sure that all your paragraphs align, that spacing is correct, and you do not leave any blank pages anywhere within your CV.
Before sending your CV to your prospective new employer, save it as a PDF version watermarked with your name. Watermarking adds to the presentation, and a watermarked document is less likely to suffer tampering. If your software allows it, save the file with security settings that prevent editing. Choose a file name as something relevant. For example, use your full name, CV, and then employer’s company name.pdf. Using underscores instead of spaces prevents ugly codes such as %20 from replacing the spaces in some email clients. John_Smith_CV_Westminster_Security.pdf looks so much better than gen%20bodyguarding%20CV%20(3).docx’. The latter does not look professional and suggests a previous fake CV, with numerous versions. Sending a file as a Word document makes it easy to alter and less likely to arrive as it may be filtered out as potentially insecure spam.
Many apps allow users to swiftly send their CV from their mobile phone or device but require the recipients to download the app. A potential recruiter will not want to download an app just to open your CV. So, please keep it simple and send your CV as a PDF document unless the recruiter has requested a specific file format. Of course, suppose a particular configuration is asked for. In that case, it may be testing your ability to pay attention to detail and follow instructions. Failing to do this will result in your application suffering immediate rejection.
Many recruiters will ask you for a short bio’ too. As with your CV, you can hire a CV writer to write your Bio’, but both will cost you money. Of course, you have to speculate to accumulate and having your CV or Bio’ professionally written will pay dividends in the long run. However, be careful to tweak them to suit the job vacancy.
If you have never written a CV or Bio’ before, go online and look at examples, there are also many templates available for you to use. You should write your bio in the third person. For example, ‘Joe Bloggs is a professional close protection operative with ten years of executive protection experience. Joe has worked as a key team member within a private household…’, highlighting your primary skills and achievements.
Your Bio’ should be brief and straight to the point but keep it accurate and honest. Consider attaching your head & shoulders picture at the top of the page and your full name and contact details.
We hope you found this article helpful. If you think your experience and CV are up to par, complete our online application to join our database. Best of luck in your job search!
Westminster Security provides professional close protection security services in London, the UK, and worldwide.