By Steven McNally, CPP, PSP, PCI
Program Director, Security Management at American Military University
Just as an entrepreneur has to create a marketing plan to be successful, a security management professional needs to develop an action plan to identify his or her career path and goals. Consider using these five helpful career tips when developing your own security management action plan:
As with any industry, many security management professionals are actively involved with professional associations like the Security Executive Council. Research local and national associations and participate in job fairs, seminars, and conferences and if possible, establish mentorships with security management professionals. Be proactive and learn about their educational backgrounds, certifications, and experiences and find out where there may be opportunities. Don’t forget to utilize social media outlets like LinkedIn and Facebook to interact with security-related groups and be sure to contribute regularly.
2. Read security industry publications and know the issues
There are several great security industry publications that discuss emerging issues in security management. Many of these publications offer free subscriptions. Do some research and find ones that address the position or sector for which you’re most interested. This will also help prepare you for interviews and industry events and will demonstrate your overall awareness of industry challenges and key issues. Here are a few recommended publications you can subscribe to: Security Director News, Security Magazine, Security Management Magazine, and Security Technology Executive.
3. Demonstrate relevant experience
Employers often look for security managers with versatility and experience in everything from technical know-how to project management to people management. Remember, the security manager of today must work closely with numerous departments in an organization ranging from human resources to IT. So be sure to include all relevant experience on your resume and not just security-related information.
4. Consider higher education
Experience and educational backgrounds of today’s security managers are much different than in years past. The majority of security managers are no longer former law enforcement officers making security their second career. Security managers are professional businessmen and women with experience in people management, finance, and even IT. Many choose security management education and other disciplines like business and finance for professional development. Examples of relevant certifications include the Certified Protection Professionals (CPP) and the Physical Security Professional (PSP).
5. Do your research
Before contacting an organization or participating in an interview, learn everything you can about their mission and their physical security protocol. Tap into your network and ask about the company and its leadership. Learn as much as you can before the interview so you have a clear picture of the firm’s needs and challenges. As you head into additional interviews, ask to meet with leaders in other departments, especially IT, to talk about relationship building. IT plays a significant role in security management. Making such requests will demonstrate that you are a security professional as well as a team player. Never take any interview opportunity for granted and always follow-up by sending a thank you card or message to the people you meet. Remember, they may end up being part of your network and every personal relationship counts.