Security means different things for different people. Ultimately, all (okay, nearly all) definitions are correct because the sense of security is personal: where I feel secure, someone else may not and vice versa. As many definitions as there are for security there are different roles in frontline security. Event security, corporate security, alarm response in mobile units, and security in healthcare setting all have their own realities, challenges, upsides and issues – and these are just a few.
You are reading this because you are part of the security community. Below is some food for thought as you consider your spot in the security world. If you have decided to be a part of it, it is important to understand where you fit, what you do, and how that contributes to the overall security plan of where you are assigned. The function you are filling means that people or other assets will be secure, but you are not alone: you have tools and you contribute value.
Maybe becoming a security professional is not your goal. Maybe you are “working security” because you like events, people, flexible schedules, working alone, being part of a team, etc. Maybe it is a “side hustle”, something common in the new gig economy, as you are pursuing your dream career in a field completely different but are just not yet established to do that full time.
It is tough, near impossible, to say security role X is the best, or ultimate one, or “the one to do” because the one that is best for one person may be the worst for another. It is precisely for this reason that it is important to understand what your persona is when looking for a role in security- be it the one you are currently in, or the next one that you plan to move on to. Key questions for this persona understanding include, among others:
- What sort of training do you want/need?
- What does risk mean for you?
- What is your tolerance to risk?
- Do you like interacting with people?
- Would you rather work alone?
- Where do you want to go?
- Are you a football fan and want to be part of the event world (note – you do not get paid to watch the game!)
Answering these questions about yourself will help point you in the direction of a role that makes sense for you. It goes without saying that if you are in the right role, you will perform better.
Security services today is so much more than a staffing service. With the evolution of the definition of the ‘rights’, it is now more critical than ever to get the right person, at the right time, at the right place, and doing the right things. On this note, it is important for frontline service providers to understand the application of technology and how it helps you bring more value to what you do.
Nowadays, the expectations are different. The company that you work for is expected to deliver more than “just a person at a site”; all incidents are expected to be reported in real-time and to the right person in the client organization, etc. The point here is that you- the frontline person- are essential in delivering on these expectations, and this entails that understanding how the data that you enter is used to support in security functions and resource allocation is important. Behind the scenes, your data intake actually gets tabulated (in software) for situation analysis which drive decision-making. Likewise, understanding that cameras are placed in certain locations that are tied directly to vulnerabilities and/or assets is crucial to your role too.
As you are spotting your next role – ask yourself and ask your recruiter what the technology stack looks like. Essentially, you want to know: will you have the tools to do the job properly? Think of it this way: would a carpenter show up to work without a tape measurer, plans, etc.? Just like onsite tools are required to properly deliver service, ask them the following questions too: How will you be scheduled? How do you go about finding what work is available? How can you match as closely as possible the desired hours that you want to work with your actual hours worked?
Don’t be alarmed: you do not need to know all the “how” behind the technology, but only the “what” and the “why” as this will help you understand your contribution within the bigger picture.
Now that you are more aware of what sort of role is the right fit for you and what the tools of the trade are, consider thinking about what new information you need to learn to secure or even progress in your current position:
- Are there technical abilities that you need (i.e. first aid, physical security information management systems)?
- Where can you get that knowledge? Is the training offered “on the job”? If so, is it structured?
- Do you get some sort of acknowledgement/certificate once it is complete?
- Does the company value me having that knowledge? If yes, then you just helped yourself and them add more value to what they are delivering to the client
- The ultimate question is: is the knowledge transferable? Are the skills that I am learning applicable and useable for other clients, sites, or sectors?
Looking back, early in my career in operations management for Pinkerton – then based in Vancouver, BC- it was suggested that I should learn the business, which I did, in part by joining ASIS International. My original training/academic background was in business but via ASIS International it became obvious that certification was the route for me to become a security professional. Today, there are many more certifications than “just” the CPP (Certified Protection Professional), among them: the PSP (Physical Security Professional), the PCI (Professional Certified Investigator), and the APP (Association Protection Professional) which is brand new and perfect for those new to the field of security.
If becoming a security professional is your goal, then be on the lookout for learning opportunities and explore the plethora of roles that exist in the sector. Key players, as are associations, are everywhere, and are an excellent resource for you to consult. In the UK particularly, the Security Commonwealth is a good place to start for information and insight.
As an industry there are numerous opportunities that can be tailored to fit your needs. In order to come up with a clear professional roadmap, it is worth contemplating whether you are in it for a limited time or for a long time? The answer to that question and how you optimise your time accordingly, are both up to you.
Be clear about what you want to do, understand the environment, what motivates you and take the opportunities that come up.
Mark Folmer, CPP, MSyI – Vice President, Security and Industry TrackTik