Ex Army, ex police, ex static security with a BTEC Level 3 in close protection, FPOS-I, and a driving qualification, sound familiar? How do you stand out from the crowd in an industry where most operators have similar qualifications and experiences.
Learn a language, less than 5% of CV's have a decent language competency on them. Conversing in the local language or having an innate ability to learn languages can be absolutely essential to the operation. Being able to communicate effectively with the locals in the country you are operating in to ensure smooth access and egress at locations or being able to translate for the principal if necessary can make you a critical asset to the team. Similarly if going for a position in a team, and although you may not speak the language in the country the position is being advised for, by showing you have an ability to learn languages it will be viewed very favourably at the interview process if you promote the fact you could pick up the local language quickly if employed.
Less than 2% of CV's have a degree level qualification. By showing you are educated to this level it shows you have the potential to learn and digest large amounts of information. You may also be requested to support management on projects outside of the team that require a higher level of education than most operators have, giving you great exposure to the senior team and increasing your chances of promotion. Having been to university also acts as common ground with a lot of principals and demonstrates to them you a level of competency away from the technical side of close protection.
Go one better on medical qualifications. Only three years ago the industry standard medical qualification was first aid at work (FAAW), First Person On Scene-Intermediate (FPOS-I) became the new FAAW, Medicine In Remote Areas (MIRA) and Approved Tier 1 Operational Medic (ATOM) are now the the new FPOS-I. In six months time MIRA and ATOM will be the industry standard medical qualifications so if you are researching a medical qualification and have the money / time available, try to go one better than these qualifications.
Start tweeting!!! Everyone is using facebook and LinkedIn to find employment but very few are using Twitter effectively. Some have signed up and have dormant accounts, others have started following celebs and some of the big security companies but very few have worked hard to build their Twitter following. If you're using facebook and LinkedIn to find employment then you are viewing vacancies that the vast majority of other operators in the industry are seeing and therefore competition is much greater when applying for these roles. As less people are using Twitter then naturally competition for roles advertised in this way is less competitive, simples when you think about it. Reduce the people going for the jobs and increase your chances of being successful.
Get out of Europe!! With the huge amount of operators seeking employment who are based in Europe then again competition for roles is much greater. Clearly this won't suit everyone, but if you have no family ties and are financially sound then go and live outside of Europe. There are expats living all over the world using local close protection teams of which having an operator embedded from their native country can be invaluable to help iron out some of the cultural differences, traditions and norms. A lot of the big security companies have local teams that they use for airport pick up's / drop off's and providing security to personnel who are flying in to work in a country for a short period of time. Having a familiar face to meet you off the plane and give you the principal brief can provide great peace of mind and removes the language barrier. Master the application process and put yourself well ahead of your peers.
Do something outside of the norm, most people are sat endlessly in front of the computer trawling for the same jobs and sending off the same untailored CV that they send off for every job. If you are searching for employment use a structured process to ensure you do it in the most effective manner possible. Start by ensuring your CV is skim readable and absolutely faultless, work out which companies are recruiting personnel with your skill set and then ensure you tailor your CV and cover letter to every single job you go for. Even if you just tweak it, adding a few words or changing a sentence, it can make a big difference. Look for the key buzz words in the job description or that the company use in their mission statement on their site. Make sure your CV and cover letter clearly highlight these and use your experience to provide evidence and expand on the buzz words so the reader is left in no doubt that you meet their criteria.
Standing out from the crowd is not easy in a competitive industry and can take a lot of effort. Learning a Language or gaining degree level education is definitely about playing the long game, but if you're just starting out in the industry and are going to make a career of it then why not. Gaining a medical qualification higher than MIRA and ATOM could be expensive but it might be worth just hanging on and earning a bit more money to put towards your continued professional development so you ensure in six months time you haven't got the industry standard medical qualification. Becoming a tweeter might be that step too far into the world of social media but if it reduces the competition applying for the jobs you are suitable for then it could be worth taking the plunge. If you've no ties then get out there and make it happen for yourself, you might be well out of your comfort zone but the rewards for doing so could far outweigh this. There is no excuse for not tailoring a CV and cover letter to the job you are applying for, put the time and effort in required to land you your next job or help you progress your career, in the end it's up to you!