Over the last 10 years, I have written a few hundred articles and granted interviews related to protective work within our industry. I have almost always addressed topics of interest from the perspective of a Close Protection Operative or directed advice or opinions toward the CPO.
As threats change with the times, the topics of discussion must change and occasionally we have to address an old topic from a fresh perspective. This article is directed to the security company Owner or Manager and addresses a more mundane yet equally important topic: INTEGRITY.
What many company owners and managers will tell you they are looking for when hiring someone to work for them (and represent their companies), is loyalty, dedication, hard-working, punctual, positive attitude, team player, ethical, honest, law abiding, professional. It shouldn’t be surprising but many employees are looking for the same qualities in a company’s top leaders.
Most of us as Managers, CEO’s, CFO’s, COO’s, or other Owners fail to remember that when our company is awarded a contract and we hire people to work for us, our organization’s integrity is judged by, and dependent upon our employees. So as important as they are to us, why did they suddenly resign?
Most successful protection organizations are managed by company Owners, Managers or CEOs who have been operatives at some point in their careers, so it should be hard to understand how they would neglect their employees, but it does happen all the times, and I do understand.
Below I will try to point out some issues that allow for a toxic work environment for both employers and employees which lead to turn over and poor loyalty.
Each company has its own vision and goal. The question is: are you as the creator or guardian of that vision as loyal to it today as you were on day one? Are you loyal to the people who work for you, to what your company represents, to the profession? Or are you ‘’bending’’ your own work ethic or clouding your company’s vision for that monthly check? Great operatives sometimes work for organizations that have cut corners, lagged behind in paying their employees, failed to support their employees, siding instead with the client, and forcing employees to quit before it was time to give them a raise. If you think that your employees won’t quit and inform everyone they know (including your competitors), about your conduct, you are wrong.
Are you on time with your responsibilities toward the people that work for you? Are they getting paid for their working hours/days expenses and benefits on time? “I HAVEN’T BEEN PAID BY THE CLIENT YET” is not an excuse for not paying your operatives on time. Operating a business and hiring people means you have a specific amount of capitol you must set aside to insure payroll. Failing to achieve payroll independence probably means you are mismanaging your profits and maybe your company. Do you return phone calls promptly? Do you promise performance raises at 6 months of employment and then wait for the employee to beg you for it at 7 months?
Are you honest regarding employment contracts? There are companies who practice “Shadow Contracting”, which uses two sets of terms: one for the clients and one for the operatives. The difference between the two are the services promised to the client within the terms of service and what the operative believes they are signing up for in pay, working conditions, risk and support. In most cases, the client is unaware of this.
Additionally, when you hire a CPO, you informed them about the initial threat assessment, so until they get their foot in the door and deal in real time with the client and his environment and do their own assessment they have to rely on what you know. As we know, in our line of work, the threat level is, in part, what sets the cost for our services. Some organizations will not inform an operative of the real threat level in order to pay the operative less.
Are you a law abiding professional? Unfortunately we have seen people with criminal records running security businesses or Managers who don’t mind hiring employees who have prior problems with the law or regulatory authorities, who add them to their company administration or to their CP teams.
These decisions initially affect the CP effort but quickly destroy the trust and loyalty in the organization as a whole and eventually the Client relationship.
Are you a team player? I have heard the phrase “I want you to see our company as your family”, many times. This is a hollow statement because:
- They already have a family.
- They are usually under a contract with a time limit
- They will never feel like family when your family and friends are in all of the key positions or in charge of the operations.
As a business owner, manager or CEO you have to think ahead and take care of your people. Some contracts require assignments in distant cities or other countries. Those people, who work for you, protect your client and basically make money for you and are away from their homes and families, possibly in a different culture, unfriendly country or in a domestic environment which tests their patience, fidelity, fitness and temperament. Are you focusing on what the CP needs to succeed 20 or 30 or 60 or 90 days into their assignment? Are you watching for complacency and prepared to replace or rotate your CPO’s if complacency or boredom becomes apparent? Did you remember to add this possibility in the client’s contract and explain that the CPO the client starts with may not be the one they end up with?
Do you regularly check to insure that your CPO’s do not exceed 10 hours a day in service and that they receive proper time for rest or rehabilitation or training or fitness? Did you put these terms into the contract? Did you secure a retainer?
Recently, I was made aware of a female CPO that took an assignment in a country she had not worked in before. She took the assignment with a signed contract which she was awarded because of her experience working with and protecting children. She was promised a weekly bi-weekly paycheck, time off, 10 hour days, clothing, food, lodging, travel and other allowance “reimbursements” and was furnished equipment. Within 30 days, she was behind 2 paychecks, out of personal money due to not being reimbursed, was working 18 hours a day, was being berated daily by the client’s wife, not allowed to discipline or correct a spoiled child and was not accustomed to the local exotic diet which was her only source of food, resulting in her being sick and under nourished much of the time she was in the country. Additionally, she was not able to leave once she decided to do so and had to work an additional 4 months before finally being paid an adequate amount of money to allow her to “escape”. She has not yet been paid the balance of what is owed her and has no legal means of demanding or recovering her earnings. The company is still in business and continues its practices. It has no loyalty and the internet is now peppered with negative comments about it.
If you see fallacies in your corporate hiring and management practices or are experiencing a high turnover in CPO’s or your management staff, spend some money on a private consultant. They can evaluate your practices for far less than what you are losing in lost contracts and overtime or training costs due to employee turn-over. Having the right people working for your company and stay with you for a long time is the best investment you can do.
End f the day, while you are running your own security firm take some time to remember where you came from and guard your reputation within the industry.
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What do you expect?
Some helpful hints to getting your foot in the door.
By Jason Collins
CPS, Security Consultant, CP Instructor
You have taken the time to go through one of the many Executive Protection schools around the world. You’ve sacrificed time and money for this training. You’ve learned the core fundamentals to becoming a bodyguard. Now you are ready to break out and start working in the industry.
How do I do this? First off, begin marketing yourself…..from this point on, YOU make or break YOUR future.
- Network, network, network…..get to know potential clients, fellow operators, job opportunities. The internet and today’s technologies, brings everything you need to begin, right to your fingertips. So utilize it…… your instructors, fellow students and former graduates are always a great place to start.
- Due diligence and following instructions- if you are on a job board site and see a job that interests you, DO NOT just apply for it….thoroughly read the post….if it says “in need of a Spanish speaking operator with 2 years experience in south America”, do not apply if this is your first attempt at finding work, you only speak your native language and you have never left your country. Find out all the facts before jumping into something you have no idea about. Know beforehand, what it is you’re getting into.
- Be professional…..again, you make or break your future. You will most certainly be overlooked if you respond to a job bid or post with poor grammar and an obvious lack of professionalism. Sell yourself.
- Know what you’re looking for … whether you want to go the celebrity, corporate, local or corporate warrior route, due your research. Utilize the resources out there for finding work in that specific niche. Start small. Make yourself known to local LEO agencies, state and municipal government agencies. Your local mayor, political campaigns, domestic abuse centers and currier services and strike work details are all good starting points.
- KEEP TRAINING. I cannot emphasize this enough. Just because you’ve gone through a “bodyguard” school does not mean you’re ready to take on the world…..It is just the beginning….train often. Keep your skill set fresh and evolving. The more you train, the better you become.
- And finally……apply with multiple agencies, multiple positions and multiple jobs. Always be on “a list” . more often than not, things don’t “just happen”. Things (jobs/contracts) take time. Logistics and regulations have to be met and followed through. So be on the list so when and if it does happen, you’re there. If you bank everything on one job, you’re going to get discouraged regularly when that job fails to take place.
Hopefully, this can get you on the right track to finding work….always ask questions, be professional, have integrity and don’t burn bridges.
From Georgios Liakouras
Anti-Terrorism Specialist Agent, CPS
About your Resume: It is what it is. Even if it is only 1 page, don’t ever lie about your qualifications or the personal information you are mentioning within the resume. It is not professional to lie because if a potential employer does their due diligence and researches your qualifications, and finds out you have lied in your resume, that’s a sure way to NEVER be hired by that employer. Most times clients who are well informed can know if you have worked for that ‘client’’ or not. In the past I have dealt with people who claimed to be working in one famous actor’s personal close protection team. When I asked to see his recommendation letter I saw that he was working as a statistic security guard employed by a security company. Learning this, I did not want to proceed and hire this person.
If you have to, attach another document for your analytic “Professional Education & Training” where you are mentioning the exact training you have taken, by which organizations, the dates and the places.
About the color in the Resume: Be sure you are using the right words in your resume and that is in a nice format. Take the place of a CEO that needs to hire a bodyguard for protection. Why should someone reject a resume because a line is blue and not black? Could this difference in text color replace all CP’ knowledge and skills for his protection? Also, the colors, underlines, bolt, numbers make the text more clear and easier/faster to spot the lines that he is interesting in. A red car is not better than a white car but is more bright and visible but the white car is better in the hot weather. Every color has something to tell us. Make your resume as simple and easy to read and understand.
About Hiring a Personal Protection Specialist Agent: The potential client, that needs protection will not just read your Resume within 2 minutes and decide to hire you as the person that will protect his life. Give him the time to have a good look at it, to ‘’study’’ it. He has to read your information without even thinking about the time and he has to understand all of your qualifications prior to decide. If an agency is flooded with resumes and CV’s, they will all be looked over. The person going over your resume will thoroughly look through it. It is a life or death decision. If you don’t read you cannot learn and if you don’t read you cannot know. So keep your resume simple and tailored to that specific client. You want all the information contained to be easy to read and understand without overwhelming the client with language that’s to complex or filled with “operator specific” jargon that the client won’t recognize or understand.
About experience: We know that if you have experience it is probably to get a higher salary and if less experience it is probably to get a less salary. I say probably because the CEO will decide the level and kind of experience he needs (No more no less) and the money to afford. The same thing is for the level and variety of knowledge/education. In the market we have Executive Protection, Personal Protection, Diplomatic Protection, Celebrities Protection, Estate Protection, Vessel Security, PSD Operator that needs different level and kind of experience, knowledge, education and other way to perform the system of protection and social status/character. So, in saying this…..if you are not currently working, TRAIN! Train often and train hard. Learn and grow in your craft. The more knowledge and skill you possess, the better the chances of landing the job.
About the active role of Bodyguard/PSD Operator/Vessel Security:
There are many people who work in security industry and they have a background from Special Forces, law enforcement, private investigations, etc. The training is good and prepares you mentally, controls fear, physically and use of weapons, but it does not make you automatically an Executive Personal Protection Specialist Agents without a specific certified Bodyguard training. A Bodyguard does not make look for confrontation but protects his/her client and goes for an avenue of escape. He does not have heavy weapons and cloths and nor any other army/aerial/navy support. He cannot utilize his martial arts in the street or take his gun and start to shoot as we do in the combat. He will lose his job and the CEO will pay a high liability. Have in mind that in England and many other countries we cannot use weapons.
PSD Operator: A PSD Operator is a civilian and not an active soldier. He is not there to be the aggressor, but , like the bodyguard, he will protect and escape with the client. No army support no heavy cloths no many and heavy weapons and ammunitions as a Marine. Even in Iraq as a PSD Operator you cannot shoot anyone with no reason (PSD Operators court case of Armor Group in Iraq assault).
Vessel/Maritime Security & Escort: They compose of 4 to 5 people on the ship. Some of them with no weapons against pirates, who usually have many and heavy weapons. The military training and war methods cannot be applied on the ship.
About your Experience & Education/Training : If you have 10 years experience and this is also hypothetic (The client will judge it according his needs). Also, if you have 10 years someone else will have 15 and if you have 15 years someone else will have 25 e.t.c….So, if they want to hire someone with the MAX of years experience then not many people will be available and what about the others with less years (No work places?).If you finish a Police Academy you cannot start working as an officer? Do you need experience for that?. What about the training? Is it not an experience? In this case why do they send the marines after their training in Iraq to make real war? Where is their experience? But as we know the training is experience!!
The knowledge is power and not anymore the weapons and muscles. We know that many marines and Special Forces lost their lives in Iraq and Afghanistan from simple people with just a simple weapon. Where is their experience? Nothing is really guaranteed or experience or knowledge in the real war but the bodyguard is not in the war nor is he a soldier.
Working as a Bodyguard or PSD Operator or Vessel/Maritime Security, very important is the preparation and execution of the security plan and to perform a complete plan, you need a vast and various knowledge/education/training/life experience/maturity. Weapons are the last resort and in some countries you do not even have this last resort. You can use a pistol but not rifles/ machine-guns/grenades/rockets in many countries so the training in the army will not be applicable.
So, when you start to study and training you will understand that the education of the different fields such as: Security, Investigation, and Homeland security, Anti-terrorism, Security management and many others as you will mention in your documents is a powerful combination and create a powerful weapon called “knowledge”.
According to the statistics 95% and up the bodyguards was dead after an organized ambush.
Many of them had no time to draw their guns and if they have guns. The key is the preparation to avoid the ambush and/or escape and to make it happen you need knowledge to the subject.
You cannot find people in the market that have many years experience with deadly ambush, but you can find some people with the knowledge to avoid them.
A bodyguard/PSD Operator/Vessel Security cannot and must not react as a Police officer or Soldier and many of the military or police training and experience cannot be applicable. You are a civilian! Only if you work as mercenary you can react as soldier.
About Muscular Size and Martial Arts: Some clients ignore the real role of a bodyguard and look to hire muscular people or people with a black belt in a specialized martial art. This is not a guarantee. What about if the killer/terrorist/assassin is more than one? What about if they know martial arts too? What about if they are muscular? What about if they had Special Forces training? What about if they have weapons and the bodyguard does not? Can a single bodyguard be against them? In the movies, yes but not in reality. The muscles, weapons and martial arts are just some last tools to use in some cases.
About EX Secret Service/FBI/Police Officers: Some clients prefer to hire retired agents because they have good training and knowledge and think that they can protect them as the president but they are wrong. One, they are civilians, two, they do not have the support of their organization (Equipments and Agents), and three, they can only use pistols or nothing according to the law of the country. So, they can offer protection like any other bodyguard.
About Night Club Security and People of the Night: These people are simple security guards with a better salary because they work at night and for a club and with some tips. From my experience as security club in Belgium, I have noticed they are usually big guys or regular but with knowledge of self-defense. They do not have any knowledge and qualification to be Personal Protection Agents. These people are able to protect someone from an attack of “wallet thief’s”, drunken people or ex-wife/ex-husband attack and keep far the journalists. Their salary must not be the same or above the salary of a Professional Personal Protection Agent that must do everything against every kind of threats nationally and internationally.