Military veterans transition seamlessly into virtually all types of careers and sectors, but as a U.S. Navy veteran and talent acquisition professional for America’s leading physical security services company, I believe that the physical security industry can be a match made in heaven for transitioning veterans. Despite a recessionary climate, which makes getting started in many industries challenging, the need for security officer services is rising dramatically. “Demand for security officer and patrol services is forecast to rise at an annual rate of 4.6 percent through 2014 to $25 billion,” states the Freedonia Group Private Security Servicesreport. “The number of officers employed by private security firms is expected to increase 2.6 percent per year to 740,000 in 2014.”
The following are my top 10 reasons why military veterans are ideal recruits for the physical security sector:
1. Talent for Technology –Physical security has entered the 21st century with increasingly high-tech assignments. Look at the physical security world today and you’ll see security personnel experienced with video analytics, access control and biometric technologies. Military transitioning to civilian jobs have in-demand, high-tech experience with sophisticated systems and software.
2. Train for Success – Veterans understand the importance of training and crave continual learning. My company, which recently announced the completion of its millionth online training course, actively promotes personal growth and development. Proactive employees who seek continual improvement reach out daily for the next rung on the education ladder. Security leaders recognize that training is key to their employees’ success. Military veterans, who train to survive the rigors of war, understand better than anyone that continual training is part of a successful mission whether it is in Afghanistan or at the corporate headquarters of a Fortune 500 company.
3. Commitment to Advancement – If you have ambition and drive, the physical security sector is full of many opportunities. The security sector boasts many leaders who start their careers as security officers and are promoted to site supervisor, district manager and vice president positions. Advancing in the physical security sector demands many of the qualities military veterans are known for, including their battle-tested real world experience, trainability, adaptability, dependability and ability to deliver quality work in pressure cooker situations.
4. Clear to Report to Duty –“Over 90 percent of those in the military have had extensive background checks for various levels of security clearances,” reports VetJobs.com. Physical security companies value the background checks that military veterans have already undergone. While many companies will follow their standard procedure and conduct their own background checks, knowing these high quality candidates have already passed rigorous screenings is a plus.
5. No Military to Civilian Decoder Needed – Veterans often need a ‘military to civilian decoder’ system to help explain the significance of their military skills and how they translate to the general employment landscape. The physical security sector, however, has experience hiring military personnel and better understands the language of the military resume.
6. Adaptability –In any security program, challenges and changes can be expected daily, and the security staff must be able to respond and adapt quickly. Military personnel are skilled at adapting to evolving circumstances and can transition quickly from one assignment or focus to another. When security needs change or a situation suddenly escalates, a trained military veteran can be an incredible resource.
7. Leadership Qualities –By the nature of their position, security officers must be strong leaders. The expectation for leadership is especially critical in a time of crisis as building occupants and visitors will quickly look to security officers for assistance and instruction. Military training breeds leadership, and these individuals know how to command authority while still maintaining proper protocol.
8. Commitment to Service –To operate in a very public-facing position, provide excellent customer service and lead others to adhere to security procedures requires a great commitment to service. A security officer is often undervalued by the public despite the fact that their mission is to keep those same individuals safe. Military personnel face similar challenges and make personal sacrifices in order to serve with pride and honor. That level of dedication translates well to the security services industry.
9. Dependability –A quality security team must be on-site when assigned, on-time and prepared to perform. Military personnel are dependable and reliable. Not only will they be on the job, but they will complete assignments beyond expectations and proactively seek out improvement opportunities.
10. Honored to Hire Veterans –While some businesses talk the talk about why military veterans are important hires, the physical security sector actually walks the walk. By way of example, my company hired Christopher Hahn, a wounded warrior and retired Marine, who started his career with us as a security officer and within six months, was promoted to Site Supervisor. We honored Hahn at a Military Appreciation/Law Enforcement Day Luncheon at ASIS 2012. The physical security sector appreciates the sacrifices made by our nations’ military.
Our company-wide military hiring program, Hire Our Heroes, is an essential part of our recruiting strategy, and I’m proud to say that my company hired 10,000 veterans in just the first nine months of 2012. Veterans generally enter the workforce with identifiable skills that can be transferred to the physical security world and are often skilled in technical trends pertinent to business and industry. And what veterans don’t know, they are eager to learn – making them receptive and ready hires in physical security environments that value ongoing learning and training.
This article was previously published in the print magazine as "Raising Your Rank: Physical Security Sector’s Mission to Hire Veterans."