How to apply for bodyguard work (and how not to).

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.

Resumes

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.

Unsolicited Resumes

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
jerry@IPGcompany.com

  • http://www.corporate-executive-protection.com Doc Rogers

    Dear Jerry: Excellent article. Picked up some great tips. I had to laugh about the “why haven’t I responded?” part. Keep safe.

  • Alonzo Gomez

    Yes, truly excellent stuff. Learning about the “face” thing eons ago in the service made me a believer: cover and resume are only “hooks” to get people to want to meet you, not complete life stories. You want to end up face-to-face because people hire people, not stats, client lists, or degrees.

    I’m nowhere near John’s position (just a working EP guy), but I interact with a lot of folks and sense a lot of frustration.

    One particular individual had been complaining for a long time about the unfairness of the business (“it’s who you know”), and asking why a pro with as much experience and a big name EP school diploma under his belt couldn’t get work. Was he “overqualified”?
    Eventually I agreed to look over his resume and found it poorly written and riddled with typos. To make things worse, the maths on his claimed total years of experience clearly didn’t add up.

    Another very green but squared away guy complained that he didn’t know where to look for work, so I gave him company lists, operations manager names, and coached him on how to apply. He soon scored a pleasant interview with a company owner. The man had to leave town, but told him he was interested.
    A short time later I asked the rookie whether he had followed up and he told me that what he really wanted was to be a police officer. He was not going to “chase” a job: he apparently expected people to roll out the red carpet for him and beg him to accept their offers…

    The market is what it is, and so is the business, but I bet that if people would just READ articles like John’s and USE the tips, we’d see a lot less disgruntled and unemployed bodyguards.

  • Alonzo Gomez

    Sorry, Jerry (not John), I apparently can’t read either! lol

  • Michael Batenga

    Great post. All too often I work with EP agents who embellish their resumes or is the “Been there Done That” guy. I would rather work with an entry level agent who is asks a bunch of questions and is eager to learn about the particular detail than an agent who CLAIMS that they have been on high level diginitary protection details all over the world but has no clue.

  • Boss Caleb

    Great tips for a person who has not trained yet!

  • Alex Bomberg

    My top tips for getting a job – have military service, do a course that people have heard of with a good company, not the cheapest option. Don’t just send companies emails with a cv attached, put some tim into the email. Network with people and don’t give up. Also most people gobbing off on forums don’t have a job either… You are only as good as your last job…

  • Tp Patriot

    GREAT stuff, Jerry. As usual. What’s the old saying about pearls? or wine skins?

  • Joe Nuskivicz

    Jerry, This is great advice! Thank you for taking your time to offer this valuable information. Do you offer resume “reviews” for us that have been out for awhile and want to get back into Personal Protection?

  • http://www.NGInvestigations.com Nathan G

    Great article Jerry. You covered many important points for new EP candidates seeking work in our field to take serious. One of the most annoying things is when I get unsolicited Resumes to my company for assignments we have. Unless, we post and the specific needs are listed, the “random” Resume is a waste of time for both parties, employer and EP job seeker.

  • Steve Bechtel

    Jerry, Excellent article really enjoyed reading it, I have done EP/PSD/PPS/CPP and worked with K9′s and have done some time in Iraq and Afghanistan and work here in the U.S. and a career Marine, but I still consider my self new in the field. Your article gave great advice and anyone that does not follow it, that is looking for a job, deserves not to get the job. I am in the process of looking for a job right now and got some great tips and advice from your article. I have a oral interview with the State Department next week for a Diplomatic Security Position. The information that you put out in your article was very helpful and gave me a lot to think about for my interview. I like to ask if you are not busy and have some free time I would like to talk with you for some advice. Any advice from a person of your stature would be greatly appreciated. You can contact me by e-mail —–@yahoo.com or my phone —725-0548. I look forward to talking with you and if I don’t get the chance. Great article and I am sure that it is going to help me out immensely when I go for my interview. Again thanks for putting out great information for all to follow.

  • Alonzo Gomez

    Re: unsolicited submissions, it did work for me once. Took a while and some finesse, but I landed a great job that way. Most times you’re met with deafening silence, but you can get lucky.
    In general, though, I agree that waiting for people to express an actual need is the way to go.

  • Larry007

    Two great points, It’s not what you know, but who you know, (then you better know). 2. And right person, right place and right time.

    You will never get the right place right time right person in front of your tv.

  • James

    I’m newer to the field than most and that was insightful.

    I do have to wonder how many miss the mark on what should be common knowledge but at the same time we ALL need a good reminder to keep us fresh.

    I am going to take another look at my resume designed for the Securities Industry and ensure that I have not missed any of the points mentioned in your article.

    Thanks again and look forward to the next article!

    Keep them coming.

    James.

  • Jonathan C. Havens

    Jerry,
    I think it would be good to expand upon the “face time” aspect.

    It’s easier for Detail Leaders or Company Owners to vette prospective applicants if they have exposure to that person’s personality or if they come with good referrals from trusted sources. (At times, it is who you know, and who knows you.)
    A protective team can fall apart or be extremely painful if you have the wrong personalities working together.

  • http://www.campbellpersonaldefense.com Bruce Campbell

    This is a good article for those of us who are new to the EP world and also some reminders for those who have been around a while.

  • Deborah Zsarko

    Great article!! Thank you for explaining a little about the “other side”. I am new to the EP world and looking for a break. Networking is definitely a key component.

  • K. Berry Sr

    Solid, pertinent information!

  • Peter N Stanojkovic, CCPO

    Thanks Mr Heying,

    Great advice! I am pretty new to the business, and “beeing in the right place at the right time”, and “got to know the right person” worked for
    me a coulpe of times but I agree on to stay humble, having a good CV/ resume and not to give up the struggle to want to offer our protective services and protect the persons in need..
    Unfortunately the lying “EPA’s/CPO’s” gets the jobs while we (the honest ones) has to fight harder to get into the EP business.. Sad.
    So guys and gals… Code of ethics!
    Great reading and good inputs!

    Keep up the good work and keep it coming!
    Great reading and good inputs from the others!

    Keep up the good work, and keep it coming!

  • Bob Tucker

    Jerry, just now read the article, well done, to the point. I have been in the “Business” for over 30 years, although I haven’t work a huge number of details over the years due to my primary job and it’s restrictions, every EP detail that I did work, with the exception of TWO, were the result of personal contacts with the likes of Dennis , John , and Tom (thanks guys). I completely agree that face time is much more valuable then just a piece of paper, no matter how impressive it may be.

    Again, good article!

  • Bob Tucker

    LOL, Sorry guys, I just realized that Dennis, John, and Tom (and Shelia) will now be getting hundreds of “blind resumes”.

  • http://www.austinscg.com Hucky

    Hey Bob, I thought of that as well, so I removed there last names.

  • http://www.excelsecuritysolutions.ch Benjamin

    Excellent article Jerry, I guess my professional colleagues have said it all so I’ll just narrate a personal experience to buttress the importance of face time as articulated in this article and hope it would help others as it helped me.

    As an example, prior to physically meeting Jerry and some other seasoned professionals like Elijah Shaw, i would say we only knew each other on paper (CV/RESUME if you will) or in cyber space. The truth is that without the face time we would have remained cyber friends and nothing more. Over time I saw the value of physically creating the opportunity to connect with seasoned professionals globally and boy was it worth the effort.

    Today i can confidently say the physical face time did pay off finally to the extent that i can confidently trust these professionals with my six any day, time and place. Hopefully they feel the same way.

    So after the resume/CV I would advice all to heed Jerry’s advice to make the extra effort to create the opportunity for some face time within every individuals limits and there are countless ways of creating these opportunities for face time just mention a few:

    1. PSC conference
    2. International Executive Protection Conference (ESI)
    3. EPIC conference (EPI)
    4. Training opportunity
    5. Socials event and many more
    6. Volunteering to assist reputable professional colleagues when time permits to create more exposure especially during high profile events and many more ways i may not have listed above.

    So to all my professional cyber colleagues that i am yet to physically meet, watch out you may be next in my face time agenda list lol

  • http://www.austinscg.com Hucky

    Benjamin well said

  • David Greaves

    As always a great read Jerry I thank you for sharing your knowledge with the new and not so new (older) of the Ep business.We all need reminders of the proper way to look for work especially in these economic times .

  • Chef

    Great information Jerry

    Thanks again for all you and John did to get me up and running in a new career for me. Especially with a face like mine ….. lol

    I love my job and my employers, I do my job PLUS and they appriciate it. You mentioned in your class that 90 % of this job is attitude ….

    Thanks again
    Chef

  • Alonzo Gomez

    Just call it your “war face”, Chef! :)

    By “face”, I think that most people here mean physical presence, as in the way we carry and express ourselves, the way we’re groomed, the way we project professionalism, the shape we’re in, etc. All the stuff you have to be in presence of the other person to see.
    If it was about being “pretty”, most of us wouldn’t work much! lol

  • http://www.etsinvestigate.com David Ratkovich

    So…Jerry.
    Can I have a job or what? :)
    Thanks for the article, it really made me laugh as I have experienced similiar folks…

    If your ever in Chicago, let me know.
    Thanks, David