By Jerry Heying
You’re new to executive protection and bodyguarding or you’ve been working in it for a while and you’re out of work, how do you find work? That’s a question asked by so many in this field. There is no magical answer but I can give you some sound advice.
As the owner of a security company who employs protection professionals, and as an Instructor at the Executive Protection Institute (EPI), I am often asked to help people find assignments or full time employment.
Let’s start with your resume. Your resume consists of paper with a bunch of words on it, sometimes lies. It’s estimated that over 50% of resumes contain lies, or misrepresentations. So first point; be truthful. Integrity is so vital to our industry that it starts with your resume.
Don’t overstate your experience or qualifications. You’re entry level? That’s ok. It’s the honest truth. One page is best, two maximum.
You can prepare a CV which stands for curriculum vitae, which is latin for; “course of life” (also resume). Hey, isn’t that the same thing? Generally, a resume is a brief and concise one or two page summary of your skills, experience, and education. A CV is more detailed and longer.
You can list just about everything you have ever done on a CV, but a resume should be limited to the assignment at hand. If you are applying for bodyguard work, then your resume should basically be only about your bodyguard skills, experience, and education. If it doesn’t fit on one or two pages, it’s too much information. Again, one page is best, two at the most.
One of my employees (who shall remain nameless) came in and gave me a 14 page CV. I never got past page 3 (I hired him anyway), which brings up another point: Resumes don’t get you assignments. Your face gets you assignments! Let me repeat that; your face gets you work, not your resume (I’ll cover this in more depth later)!
I literally get thousands of resumes a year. I have a stack of them in my office 12 inches high. When I run an ad for a protection specialist, I will get sometimes over 200 resumes within 2 weeks. Of these 200, about 150 are immediately thrown out as unqualified.
Here’s another clue; if I ask for a 1-2 page resume, and you send me 10 pages with every certificate you ever got including the boy scouts, how do you think I respond? Unqualified; cannot read, understand, or follow instructions. Sounds harsh? That’s the way it is. You have to follow given instructions.
Of the 50 resumes I deem qualified, we will usually call to discuss working the assignment (no details given out at this time, just basic obscure information). About 30 people will disqualify themselves on the phone just by their attitude and demeanor. Ego, attitude, and bravado play a big part here.
Don’t puff out your chest and pound on it saying how great you are. I’m looking for a professional who is looking for their next assignment, not the World’s Best Bodyguard (besides, that would be me).
We then meet with who we deem qualified and are a square peg for a square hole. That usually narrows it down to 4-5 candidates. If you are not selected, it doesn’t mean you are a bad person; just not right for that assignment. I get a lot of professionals who bemoan the fact I don’t give them every assignment I get. Not every assignment is for you.
If you are a square peg and I need a round peg, I am not going to take a chance and pound you into the hole and see if it works, sorry. Don’t take it personally. Professionals understand this and will not put themselves in contention for an assignment that they know they are not suit for, or they recognize that there are other qualified candidates in the market place and you don’t get every assignment you apply for.
Every week, I get resumes emailed to me, unsolicited. This means, I didn’t ask for them, but people are just sending me one anyway. That’s ok, but so is buying a lotto ticket. “Hey, you never know”, right? Rolling the dice. In all honesty, the chances of getting an assignment from me like this are very slim.
Here’s my favorite; I get an email that’s address to 20 or so others, and it says, please find my resume enclosed. No name, And the resume is attached as “resume”. So I’m getting a resume I didn’t ask for and it’s also being sent to 20 others, and it’s completely generic like being addressed, “To Whom It May Concern”. Not very personable.
And now I have to download this resume, and I don’t know what name to give it (resume 23,050?). Not my favorite email. I call it the shotgun approach. Just fire it off in some direction and see it I hit anything (Kevin Costner in the Bodyguard, shooting with his eyes closed-I love it).
Here’s another example: I get a FedEx package, I open it and find a resume. Nice folder, cover letter, photos. Cool. I looked it over and it’s from a recent graduate from an EP school. Minimal experience, so I place it with all the resumes and continue on with my work.
About a week later I receive and email asking if I received the package. Well, here’s another clue; as a company owner, I get over 200 emails a day, and about 50 phone calls, of which I can only handle a small percentage, so I didn’t answer his email (and I might not answer yours either, sorry). About a week later, I get another email that has somewhat of a nasty tone; I sent you my resume, you can see from my resume I’m highly qualified, I sent you an email, why haven’t I responded?
Well, I like helping entry level folks, so I called him up and I let him go on for a while and I finally stopped him and said, time out; your resume was unsolicited, it was weak, I put it with all the rest of the resumes, and why do you think I’m obligated to respond to your emails?
He was young, and he responded to my points of view, so I spent some time with him on what went wrong with his strategy. The reason I’m sharing this is it’s important to consider the right way to send a resume and the wrong way.
Your Face, not your Resume
I’m a strong believer in this, that it is not your resume that get’s you work, it’s your face! Let me repeat myself, it’s not your resume, it’s your face that counts! I will more often than not, hire someone because I have met them, then from just a resume. For me it’s a fact.
I do hire as I outlined before from resumes when I’m running an ad or looking for a specific type of person, but more often than not, I will hire someone whom I have personally met, before someone I have not, especially for entry level individuals. I’m not sure if this is just me, but I have discussed this with other people who hire for EP work, and generally they feel the same.
So what is more important; your resume or your face? I strongly recommend that if you are looking for work, get out and meet people that hire. Where? Conferences, Trade shows, local ASIS luncheons, etc. And when you meet people that hire, don’t immediately press a resume into their hands (remember unsolicited?).
Here is another clue; there is something about meeting the right person at the right time at the right place. It can happen by accident (and sometimes that’s how people get jobs), or it can happen because you knew who the right person was, you met him at the right time and place. Which has better odds? You have to find out who is the right person to meet. Then you have to study when the right time is and where is the right place. Then you have to put yourself there at that time.
Let me ask you this; you live in East Cupcake New Jersey and you want to go to Chicago; do you just walk out of your house and start walking north? Your research airfare versus driving, you check routes on maps, you use MapQuest and Kayak and other tools, and you figure out which is the best option based on your available cash, right? Why do so many people just send out there resumes and hope it gets to the right person?
Do your homework, ask around. Meet other EP Professionals and ask their advice. Ask someone with experience to look over your resume. Be humble and don’t be afraid to seek the advice of the more experienced. Write an honest resume and be straightforward with your answers. And for God’s sake, get out and meet the people who hire others. Your odds of getting work will drastically improve. I hope this helps and Good Luck!
Jerry Heying, CPP, PPS, CST
President and CEO International Protection Group, LLC