I was once told that “luck” is defined as the point in time where opportunity presents itself to a person that has prepared through education and training to take on that opportunity. Further I can attest that the harder a person works, the luckier they seem to get.
Hard work we all get. It is that first one at the job, last to leave mentality. It is that drive where we seek to be productive, carry the heaviest load and see all of our tasks to the end. I have seen a tremendous number of individuals that are this person, and yet when it comes time for the job hunt they fail to execute on the very practices that will make them a great candidate for the job.
Planning and Preparation:
We do this every day in nearly every job and yet so often the only planning that goes into a job hunt is opening the classified section of a local newspaper in search of a specific position. Planning should begin with a definition and identification of your skills. You need to assess what you do well naturally, what you have been trained to do, what you have actually done, and how you can apply it to make you valuable in what potential positions. Once you have answered these questions you are well on your way to having some of the content for your resume as well as defining what positions you would be well suited for. The next piece of the planning stage is to identify who needs these skill sets and find out how to contact them. In the information age the “classified” section of the newspaper has been replaced in many instances by the on line job board. It is quick and that one stop shop for all of your employment needs, unless you are looking for a position that is niche in nature which is exactly what the bodyguard/EP/CP industry is. Yes by all means look at the major job boards for postings. Then seek out professional web pages, blogs, and groups having to do with the industry. Once you have done all of that it is time to start looking at companies and corporations. In some capacity every medium to large company will have a security department and the only place they may do their job postings may be on their own web site. This can be a long slow process, and you may have to remind yourself right before you give up that someone else just gave up which means that next place you look could be that perfect job, and you may be one of a small group that even found the posting. It Works! Now a little hint on job hunter trade craft, when you find a job with a company you would love to work for out on open source track it back to the company and possibly their HR department’s list of job postings. XYZ corp. may have widely distributed a specialist or management job posting and not the other three available jobs within the security department, and once you have tracked it down, it should go on a list of favorite sites to monitor, keeping an eye out for the one that is right for you. Keep a tablet beside you as you search or open a word document so you can take notes as to where you found information, what dates you checked a given site and the status of any position that you may have applied for.
Application and Resume:
Which brings us to the actual application process; you should start by taking a couple of the job postings and truly analyzing the job description, and requirements. They may be listed as bullet points. They may be in a run on paragraph of skills required. No matter the format, mark each aspect or specific skill and take the time to evaluate what skills you have or most closely fill the need or skill set that is required. Write this down and make sure it is incorporated in your resume. The outline of a resume you can find all over the internet, the real work is taking the relevant information requested by the employer and organizing it under headings of education, training, work experience, special skills and possibly introductions or closing that features your strongest skills or experience that will make you perfect for the position. These skills are not going to be required for every position, and in some cases you may include them, just not highlight them. I advocate never doing the same thing twice, so save every “Specialty Resume” you write and I have often taken the pieces of a given resume and copy and pasted them into one word document so that they can be easily accessed and reused in other resumes that you may need to create. Another suggestion is that many companies use an individual application process where you fill in this very information in a formatted way. Look at the format after you fill it in and use that as a model for your own resume.
Tracking and Follow Up:
This is a process, so be patient. I have seen companies take weeks from posting a position to the first time they actually contact anyone. Every company has a different policy on how they respond to potential candidates. Some have a stock email that goes out immediately thanking you and letting you know they will call you if you are a good fit. I think it is acceptable to send a follow up email and in some settings if you have a phone contact it is also acceptable to call. I would also suggest you keep a list of all of the positions that you apply for. The list should include the date of the job posting, the date you sent in your application/resume, any responses you have received. It is difficult to get real feedback on why you are considered, and why you were disqualified so you will have to try your best to do some self-evaluation. Is the resume/application presenting me at my best? Are my skills fulfilling the requirements for the position? Did I get better responses from a particular resume I am using and can I tell what is different about it that I can capitalize on and implement on other specialized resumes. Once again in all honesty researching, writing and maintaining a great resume is a job in and of itself. There is no quick fix beyond investment of time and self.
The interview starts the first time you hit send with a document you have prepared. Be aware if there are special instructions as to how to send your application or resume then follow them to the letter. I have heard of companies that throw out every applicant that did not put the correct reference word in the email they sent. Every phrase, skill and statement will be analyzed for value, content and organization. If you provide a contact phone number make sure you answer it professionally. “What up Dude?” Will definitely fall into the unprofessional category and reflect poorly on you. Please think of your answering machine message as well. It is a reflection of you. Potential employers do not want to listen to your favorite music star or adult cartoon character while they are waiting for you to answer and they definitely do not want to leave a message concerning a job opportunity in this business for someone that has an unprofessional message on their answering machine/service. Get a professional/basic email address for business use. DynomiteMan127@xyz, or 1coolkitty@xyz may play well on the social scene, but they will fail miserably in the professional world. The next hurdle is social media. More and more employers are taking a look at the online profile of applicants. If there are things that you would not want a potential employer to see make sure access is blocked or the content is sanitized. Even better would be to keep a separate account strictly as a reflection of your professional image. I recommend Linked in. It is the social media of the professional, and a great place to network.
Wow, I want to take a second to point out that there are at least four areas where you may have put forth an image that would eliminate you as a potential candidate for a position and you did not even realize you were in the interview process!!!
Be prepared to speak with someone that would potentially call to do an initial phone interview. Some companies like to make this very impromptu and informal, and others like to schedule a block of time and conduct a much more formal interview. Either way take the time to look up “job interview questions”, there are many resources so that you can see what are likely the questions you will be asked and understand what they are looking for in an answer. If possible role-play with a friend or family member or at the very least the person in the mirror so that you are prepared to field the potential question. If the interview is unscheduled and informal, the interviewer should ask if this is a good time. If it is not, be honest and let them know it is a bad time. Then suggest a time that would be better. You will not do a good job presenting yourself, and they will not want to listen if your children are playing loudly, or if you are in the grocery store. If you set a phone interview be prepared just like you are about to walk in their office. Have any reference material you may need close to hand, prepare any questions you may have about the job or company and I always keep a copy of the actual job posting as a reference as well. At that point relax and be yourself. You want to be prepared, but you want to let a little of your personality come through rather than just repeating the canned answers that your internet search produced. Finally you may be invited to come in for a face to face interview. Follow instructions, confirm a contact number for the interviewer, and write down the time and place. Get an address and confirm the location in the building or complex. Dress accordingly. A neat, clean appearance in professional attire is a must. Remember if you are applying for a position in this industry you are applying for a position of Trust. You must in every way look the part of the consummate professional that can be trusted with the lives and safety of those around them. Hold yourself to a higher standard than they will and you will be fine. The actual interview is no different than the phone interview; they just want to see who you are and how you represent yourself, and how you will represent them. Keep that in mind. How you handle social interaction and what is appropriate is what will often make the difference.
These concepts are simple and because in many cases we look for a job for a relatively short period and then we are employed for months and even years before we go on the hunt again it is easy to lose sight of how much of a full time JOB, job hunting is. We also forget that it is a process that requires planning preparation, active search and perseverance, follow up and execution. None of this will happen while sitting on the couch with a TV remote or Xbox controller in your hand. So we have come full circle. If my theory that “The harder you work the luckier you will get,” holds true, then I hope you are all very lucky in your present or future job hunting endeavors.
As a quick disclaimer, if you find a job posting for a company you are unfamiliar with you must engage in a little due diligence. Find out if the company exists, is it licensed, or incorporated in the state where the job op is. And most of all if it seems too good to be true it probably is. We plan to produce another article on this very process in the coming weeks.
Brandon J Delcamp