From Policing to Private Security – A Career Transition by Sharon Haye

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BEGINNING AT THE END

Coming to the end of a policing career either as a mid-service leaver or retiree, regardless of the amount of service at the point of leaving, officers need to be mindful and give serious consideration to what they would like to do next. The job market changes constantly and has been seriously impacted by Covid as has many others. If you have a personal hobby/interest or business idea that you have ready to roll out, all well and good. If not, then the Private Security industry lies ready to welcome you!  Utilising core skills and experience attained in Policing, Private Security is seen by some as a ‘natural route of progression’ as many of the operational practices are similar and require identical skillsets. 

Private Security is well placed as a subsequent career to Policing because it has a range of roles perfectly suited to former serving officers already accustomed to things like; a disciplined working structure, process adherence, legal compliance, observation skills, communications skills, uniformed / formal environment, dealing with confidential matters and information, incident investigation and report writing, acting in a gate-keeping capacity, conflict management, the calmness required to carry out certain roles in potentially violent, conflict and dynamic environments, thinking quickly, decisively and with confidence. Being security minded is already ingrained in Police Officers as a given.

What did the author of this piece do after Policing and did they make it into Private Security? Well after Policing I progressed through roles in Loss Prevention, Investigations & Security Management in a range of industries, building merchants, retail, FMCG, and then into Private Security (amongst other amazing opportunities) as a Close Protection and Surveillance Operative and over the following 7 years, I gained invaluable additional experience based on skills and training gained within Policing.

So, what is the chase, how do we cut to it? What are the roles that comprise a Private Security career?  The main sectors are the ones that require compulsory licensing through the S.I.A. (Security Industry Authority) and include Close Protection, Door Supervision, Dog Handlers and Manned Guarding. Other roles such as private investigators and security consultants do not yet need licensing but more than likely, will do eventually.  Of course, as an officer you retain your SC clearance for up to 10 years after leaving the service and so this alone can open up particular avenues for employment in the Cyber and Investigatory fields.

GETTING YOUR MIND RIGHT

For those embarking on that journey, to increase their chances of a successful transition, one needs to think about the mental health aspect, something extremely personal to each of us. Before joining the Police service, you are a member of the public who is then given specific powers that are only given to those that hold the warrant card and when you give that  up and are no longer able to exercise those powers or retain certain autonomy any longer, that is a one major adjustment – some work through that very well, but others not so. 

Be prepared to not always being in command of situations and not having the overall position of authority and autonomy. 

Be prepared, you will find yourself in organisations and roles where you are not the head honcho, if I can put it like that.  Trust me, although an intangible feeling to have to qualify, it is quite an adjustment to make and a psychological impact and change that should not be underestimated.

LEVERAGING PREVOUS EXPERIENCE

It is extremely important to identify and acknowledge your skill set, what you can bring to your next role, and encouragingly there are many post service organisations that support all service leavers, not just from the military and they can help you establish what those skills are, identify where the opportunities are and how best to secure your next role within the industry.  Key organisations specialising in assisting officers embarking on a career transition are Blue Line Leavers, Ex-Job Recruitment, and Emergency Services Career Transition, all three are founded by former serving officers who offer support, advice, potential job leads, CV advice and can walk the talk in terms of what it’s like to embark upon that career transition outside the world of policing.

The list of transferable skills an officer can take into the private security industry is substantial and valuable and a few were mentioned earlier in this article.  There is no room for ‘I was just’, you don’t get to be just a police officer. EVER !

And of course, having a stellar jargon free CV (although courtesy of Line of Duty, everyone now knows what CHIS means don’t they!) will be your one of your best assets.  Your CV is your career billboard, the document designed to get you sat in front of that hiring manager and ultimately conclude the conversation with a firm elbow bump ands onto that career within private security industry.

NURTURING YOUR NETWORK

Fortunately, the transition from Policing to Private Security is a well-trodden path, there are many former officers that have gone on to successful careers out there with plenty of advice for those considering entering the world of Private Security.  Other sources of advice are current and also past colleagues who have already made the leap to the other side.

Many roles within the close protection and asset protection sectors for example, are filled on a referral basis, by knowing the right people who can nominate or put you forward, can speak to your character and experience as being someone capable of carrying out that particular role (on top of any licensing and certifications requirements) and fitting into an extended team and environment.

Social media forums are constantly evolving as excellent locations to source and establish new professional networks and connections. LinkedIn and even Facebook will have pages with great sources of job leads and contacts, news and information that can be used to further one’s private security career.  I obtained my first role with an UHNW private family on a residential security detail through Facebook.  An SOS had gone out on a page looking for a female operative and although I was not part of that group forum, I contacted the poster of the ad and asked to send my cv and details through anyway.  I consider myself fortunate because this was very much a case of being in the right place at the right time.  The working relationship with this private client family, lasted for more than 4 years and provided a professional launch pad for other tasks that I would not have otherwise had access to. 

The rest, as they say, is history.

Nurturing that network is absolutely the No.1 thing you must do, relationship building in the security industry is king and pays enormous dividends going forward.  People will remember you and be happy to help out in the future, but they need to know WHO YOU ARE. so, network like your life depends on it !!

So, once the decision has been made, you are confident going forward and you start to actively seek roles within the private security industry, the next important step is to seek out your own network  and most definitely set about establishing a professional industry related one.  The aim of a network is to get you exposure to companies, hiring managers and specialist recruitment agencies who have the knowledge and experience of this industry. They will value your previous experience and know how to harness the value of what it can bring to their organisations.

Sharon Haye

Sharon Haye

Sharon has a wide ranging and distinguished background commencing in Policing, and moving to physical security management in both corporate and public sectors (NHS), later progressing through to close protection, private households, UHNW and private families.

With over 20 years high level experience in the security industry, Sharon is currently looking for the next exciting opportunity within physical security management.