• Sephy

Sunday Debate 13/09/20 - Should we stop using "must have military or police experience" in job ads?

Today we asked the question

With the industry creeping forward and more security careerists are getting qualified, is it time we stop using "must have military or police experience" when advertising for security management positions?

This generated a lot of feelings in both camps but my view is this.

Back in the early years of the security industry this was the place where serving ex police or military personnel were sent out to pasture. They took up the senior positions and mostly got the lucrative positions from others that were in the industry and were selected and assigned when you were from a certain force or cap badge.

To make matters more difficult, in the late 90's to early 00's the industry was full of hungry antipodeans just looking to earn a pound and then go home, often on a two year rotation so not a lot of credence was given to their development. It meant that the 'professionals' were seen to be from the forces and they were promoted and offered roles way beyond their capabilities sometimes. As a person who has no real military or blue-light services background this made progression hard and even harder was trying to win the respect of others who had served.

Security Careerist

Security Careerist is a term I have coined for people like myself who have chosen security to be their career and have dedicated their working life towards it. This wasn't an easy choice as I had the same view of manned guarding than the next person who didn't understand it or the industry. This view unfortunately was "dead end job with no prospects." But I had realised that there was a chance to make this a career instead of a job once I had been in a few years and looked for opportunities.

As there weren't many options to excel in the industry and you were often see as a filler of a role that somebody with forces experience should have had, I was met with a lot of barriers and in some occasions being the age I was a lot of hostility and insubordination. I had to learn the industry and a lot of man management skills to get the best out of my teams and respect from the industry dinosaurs.


There was a moment in time where a change happened and the security industry was no longer about doughnuts, doors and locks, we merged into a facilities mechanism. The old style police uniforms were gone and a suit was put in its place and there were other responsibilities and expectations came. A slightly more appreciative outlook came across the industry and we were slowly merging into a more corporate facing entity, but this made a shift towards professional training.

Unfortunately the old thoughts are still prevalent by the old guard who are still in the senior positions, and is probably why we do not see the reduction of "must have police and forces experience" in job adverts, people hire in the likeness of themselves. A lot of FM managers do not know what they want really from security, recruiters will copy and paste old job ads because if you stick a ex-forces member in front of a client then it will likely be more successful for the placement and commission due to the reputation of ex-forces and not really competence. To note, being ex-anything does not account for skills you need outside of the forces. In civi street the business skills required to perform security management at a competent level are vast and wide ranging and the industry is slowly recognising this.

Commentator Responses

Various responses from ex-services and security careerists have been in agreement in the majority to the skills required of a security management professional. There is definitely a cohesion of learning between the two entities of ex-forces and security careerists and this really benefits the industry as a whole. If we can continually learn from each others experiences, and not put one above the other then the system could work better, people could see this as a career and it become more professionally recognised.

A good point made was a discussion over certain positions like firearms roles or hostile environments where you would need the best fit for the role under the ISO31000. This was caveat that it did not discount non service personnel but under a risk assessment perhaps a military or police trained operative in this case would be best served. This I agree with, but again in context and not discounting a non-server.

It was good to see the whole view of commentary this week mutually agreeing that to excel in the security industry new skills are to be learned regardless of where you started.

I have added the link to the discussions below.



Ideally the copy and paste mentality of security positions being advertised needs to stop. As an industry we need to step away from the roles for ex services unless there is a requirement for them. The positions that would suit ex-service training which should be listed are ones that ex-services are trained for, foreign CPO, maritime security, oil and gas security. Anything outside this should be an open, fair playing field for all.

There is a massive shift towards education and a new breed of security professional coming through the system. We have degrees, masters and doctorates now in the field of security risk management and these should be recognised over forces backgrounds. However, not forgetting the security professional who has the experience and a portfolio of CPD (continuing professional development) should be given a chance also, as not everybody has the means for higher education.

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