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The growing threat to businesses coupled with the world getting smaller, means that more businesses are recognising the value of a business-aligned security/investigative professional. Undoubtably, recent high-profile incidents and the prevalence of social media has brought the importance of a strong security function to the attention of the board, who recognise the impact of a high profile incident on their share price. Recruitment processes for security management roles as a result now have more stakeholders than ever, not just Human Resources and the CSO/Functional Head.

Back in the day most companies would work with multiple recruiters on a vacancy and it would be a case of first come, first served so there was certainly an element of ‘throwing CVs at a wall and seeing what sticks’.

Nowadays I think hiring companies are more sensible in their approach.  They will often work with one or maybe two recruiters, agreeing specific timelines so the recruiters can find the best people; not just those they spoke to first.  If firms do use multiple recruiters they will often limit them to submitting a specific number of CVs (often just three or four profiles), which again means you can’t submit the first people you come to, as better people may appear later!

The ideal from a recruiters’ point of view is working on an exclusive basis, where you have the time to focus on finding the best options for the hiring company.  It’s very unlikely someone is going to hit 100% of the role requirements, but a fair match and a strong cultural fit is what everyone wants; it may just not be the first person you speak to!

I think that you really just need to have a think about the challenges that organisations will face in the corporate world.  We often see CVs from people leaving the Police who are obviously very strong investigators, but they emphasise their experience in the context of perhaps solving murders or similar.  Clearly if you’re leading investigations at that level, you’re going to be very good at what you do, but companies won’t have a direct affinity with that experience.

When you’re thinking about making the move from the public sector I’d strongly suggest you start developing a good network in the area you’re looking to move to.  By talking to people in that sector you’ll start getting a feel for where you could fit and what skills you bring to the table.  If you do it well in-advance of your departure, then you can potentially steer your current employer to giving you more relevant experience too.  Have a look at this blog for some additional thoughts regarding networking:, which is definitely the first step I’d suggest every time!

This is undoubtably one of the biggest problems that candidates have with recruiters and recruitment processes. After an initial confirmation note or conversation, they hear nothing at all or receive a vanilla “thanks, but no thanks” email. In our experience, it’s usually one of two or three reasons. Often it can be a question of resources; recruiters just don’t have the time to keep people in the loop, where they may have had several hundred applications. The second possibility is that sometimes the recruiter themselves doesn’t have anything from the client to pass on. Both of these can be solved by the recruiter, by simply more effectively managing candidate expectations at the outset. I would suggest building a personal relationship with the recruiter wherever you can, perhaps utilising instant messaging to nudge them and working on the premise that no-news is not necessarily bad news.

I suspect you’ll get a range of views from hiring managers.  Often, you’ll see that if they’ve got a particular educational background they’ll see that as a positive, or if they’re not strongly educated it may be less of an issue. From our point of view, outside of some very technical fields, qualifications alone are rarely ever going to get you a role.  However, I would think of qualifications in four ways:

They’re going to support the practical skills and experience in your application

They align you with the business, an MBA for example

They show that you have a practical ability to learn, and potentially multi-task if you’ve done courses whilst working

They are going to potentially differentiate you from someone with a similar background or experience, particularly if you’re moving from Government or transferring to a different sector/field.

In summary, qualifications will be additive to your career and a fantastic way to distinguish yourself from the competition, just choose carefully.

Simple; high EQ, strong relationship building qualities and fantastic leadership skills. The harder, more technical skills, remain absolutely key, but it’s your softer skills that will get you the seat at the table.  If you’re the CSO for a Fortune 500 firm it’s unlikely you’ll be an expert on everything your team does, but knowing your skills and your limitations, leading the team you have well and filling the gaps in knowledge when you can, will stand you in good stead.  Also, make sure you’re an avid networker, not only amongst your peer group, but also within your company.

I think this is where working with a niche recruiter is advantageous.  If a company works with a generalist recruiter, that person can read a CV and look for keywords as well as the next person.  However, if you work with a good niche recruiter, they should be well embedded in the industry and therefore have a good understanding of the challenges people face and what skills, experience and education works for companies.

I (Chris) am not a practitioner but have been recruiting in this field for 20 years.  I have a PostGrad Diploma in Security Management, travel to 5-6 high level industry conferences every year around the world and see presentations by Government and Industry SMEs across all the areas we recruit.  I also speak to people on a daily basis about the challenges they face in their roles, so do have a good grasp on what works where.

If you asked me to do a fraud investigation or a security survey I may struggle, (though I would know who to ask for help!) but I do feel pretty confident I can look at what a company wants to hire for and find the right profile.  If you dealt with a recruiter who was new to the sector, I don’t think they would have the same feel for transferable skills

With any ’interesting’ role we’ll tend to receive 300-400 applications in total. This is obviously too many to send through to our client and would also defeat the object of using an intermediary! Paring this list down is definitely challenging, but on average I’d say 15-20% of the people applying for the role can do the job ‘on paper’.  There’s often many people you can rule out immediately for reasons including: lack of work permit for the location, lack of required language skills, salary expectations above what the company can pay, no experience in the region/location the role covers or even a lack of the majority of the skills directly relevant to the role.

When we provide a shortlist we would tend to look at those most relevant profiles, those that possess similar experience in a similar industry. From here we expand the search out and look at those candidates from a different sector and so on.  It’s always good to provide the clients with some more ‘left-field’ options in there too, perhaps someone who would be stepping up into the role but is a real smart cookie, or someone leaving government service with a great background.  Fundamentally we are paid by the client to deliver on their requirements, but our understanding of the market allows us to take a more innovative approach than a generalist recruiter.

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