An Update & Free Courses...

Looking down the 'Blog' list you'll see that I was one of the first to register with Tom and upload a Blog. I gave a bit of info about my background and outlined, quite strongly, the need for individuals to get formally qualified, from an educational point of view. Additional short courses are also useful... This year has been a quiet one for me. I resigned from my role in Afghanistan in January and since then I've had plenty of down time with the family, which has been great but, I've also been applying for roles. They don't come around too often, at least not the level of role I'm looking for. I've been operating at the 'Country' / 'Regional' management level for a few years now and whilst I could have jumped straight back in to a job two weeks after leaving Afghanistan, it wasn't at the right level I wanted. At my current juncture in life, I'm now 46, I have two choices, work in the UK and get in to the Corporate Security market or continue to work abroad. If I work abroad, I've realised that Country / Regional management levels are as high as you can expect for a rotational role. Anything higher and the company wants you to relocate to the country of the operation or if that's too hostile then a safer country close by. For instance, a lot of people find themselves relocating to Dubai, in the UAE and 'commuting' in and out of Iraq or Afghanistan. My personal circumstances don't allow me to relocate and therefore I am restricted in my parameters for work - but purely through personal choice. So, whilst living off my savings and the pension I accrued through my Army service this year, I've applied for a few roles and spent time looking at more courses. My CV is quite varied, I've operated all over Europe, the Middle East and Africa, as well as South East Asia, however, it's not getting me in the door with certain departments or corporations and whilst I don't fully understand why, I have come to realise a handful of things and that's aside from having a covering letter and CV written by Tom's company by the way (this is plug Tom - I'm happy to work on commission). Firstly having or knowing someone on the 'inside' of the company you're applying to will help enormously. Secondly, using a recruiter, that is someone paid by the company or corporation to find a suitable individual to fill the role will get you further than if you apply to the role through the company website, where thousands of people apply and the HR department the other end just doesn't have the resources to sift through each individual application. The bigger the company, the bigger the problem here. Thirdly and particularly where the Private Security Companies are concerned and to a lesser degree certain governmental departments, if you are an ex-serviceman, the rank you left your arm or service will always be asked for and taken in to consideration, whether on documentation or at interview. You will then be put in to a 'box', where no matter what you have achieved since you left the service, no matter how long you've been out or what your qualifications are, you will still be seen as a 'Private, Rating, Airman, Marine', JNCO, SNCO, Warrant Officer or Officer... An example from a personal perspective - I applied to a department, to become an Operational Manager / Security Manager. My application was received, I was notified by automatic return of an email. It then took over three months of deliberation, bearing in mind my security background both in the military and since and the fact that I hold a postgraduate degree (in security and emergency management) to be told that my security knowledge and background didn't meet the criteria for the posts I'd applied for! It didn't outline my failings though, or tell me how I could improve and stand a better chance next time. The thing is I know individuals working for this department, carrying out these roles and I know from a work and education perspective I have bags more experience and qualifications. I also know that they were commissioned whilst serving, whereas I wasn't. In addition I also know the selection of individuals to these posts is carried out by a retired 1 star. I may come across as cynical but, with good reason. What bearing does my service have seven years after I left, when I now have the qualifications, experience and skill set that sees me working far above what I did in the Army? I have also sat in interviews where just after the start or right at the end and I mean the very last question, was 'what rank did you leave the Army at Neil'. The result being you are either taken at face value or put in to the 'box' and only pulled out when a role is deemed suitable for you. If it hasn't happened to you yet, it will... So this year has been slow, I did get out to Juba, in South Sudan for a month, as an 'Interim Country Manager', to 'prove business' for a large risk management company. I debriefed the senior business and management staff upon my return, following two business reports I send back whilst I was there, and was asked to put my terms in writing. They wanted to start the project up and send me out asap. I sent my terms in the following week and heard nothing for two weeks. So I phoned the company. I spoke to the HR head on this particular Wednesday and he said that I was to get a confirmed offer on Friday. Great, I mistake, I forgot to ask which Friday! No offer came and when I emailed the HR head again two weeks later, I was told that the company had decided to move two people internally to start the project up, rather than bring in a new person to the company - they'd just forgotten to tell me. Two lessons to learn here, I already knew the first one, having passed it on to someone who thought they were going to be my B2B in Moscow. The first is that you haven't got the job, until you are in the country, doing the job or taking over from the person already there. You may have signed a contract but that means nothing. The guy offered the Moscow role with me never got it. Second, I only signed a 4 week consultancy contract, to 'prove business'. The company weren't obliged to offer me anything more, so doing what they did just sullied their reputation and standing with me but what do I matter, I'm not a 'client' and there are plenty more where I came from as I allude to in my first blog... Whilst I continue to apply and look for the right role and there are a few bubbling away in the background, I work part-time. I was approached back in February and asked to forward my CV to UKAS, the United Kingdom Accreditation Service. They were looking for people to consider for the role of Land Based PSC Technical Assessor. An ad hoc and part time SME role, assessing auditors who will over the course of the next year run a pilot scheme to accredit PSCs to a particular standard, showing that they operate with certain regulatory managerial systems in place and that these systems run properly from head office, CEO strategic levels down to project manager and the operational levels. The standard is called PSC1 and any UK PSC applying for a contract without this standard in place, in about 12-18 months time, won't make the list and will therefore not be allowed to bid. In July I had a call from UKAS saying that from a cast of thousands, I'd been selected for the position, I had the right background and qualifications and the job was mine if I wanted it. I accepted, for me It's another string to the bow and something different for the CV. It's not full time and if I end up in a rotational role again, then it will fit in around the times when I am at home. I have to go to Dubai next week, Mon to Fri as part of this, on a daily rate and all expenses paid. It's a dirty job... Anyway enough of my waffle...I've also blogged today to offer up some shortcuts to free online courses, which will look good on your CV. Even better, on a CV written for you by Tom's company (how much now Tom?)! The first is a course that I've signed up for and starts in January next year. It's called Understanding Terrorism and you can sign up for it here: It's eight weeks long and there is a 'Statement of Accomplishment' (its an American run course) at the end of it. The syllabus is: Week One: WHAT: Dispelling Myths about Terrorism Week Two: WHAT: The Global Terrorism Database and Visualizing Terrorism Data Week Three: WHO, WHY: Individual Radicalization Week Four: WHO, WHY: Terrorist Group Dynamics Week Five: WHAT: Behaviors that Enable the Next Terrorist Attack Week Six: WHAT: Terrorist use of Unconventional Weapons and Technology to Maximize Terrorism Week Seven: WHO: Terrorism Longevity and Desistance Week Eight: Putting it all together: Al-Qa'ida Case Study The next course I recommend is a straight forward electronic Hostile Environment Security Training (e-HEST) course. Taken online, it will take possibly a couple of days to complete, if you do it an hour or so at a time. There is a certificate you can print off at the end and it is a useful qualification to have if you intend to apply for EU related roles but also UN stuff as'll find it here: The third and final course I want to share with you is a Human Rights training course. This is a good introduction to the subject, worth reading through and completing and it looks good as a qualification on your CV. A lot of agencies now ask for Human Rights training, as do one or two PSCs who get involved with EU, FCO, NGO work. You get a certificate at the end, endorsed by the UN Human Rights Office. Top tips here...there are only 20 questions to answer, with very obvious answers. The obvious answers are the right ones, honest. One question, asked whether 'all of the above' are correct, guess what they are! The short cut is: The EU and Human Rights Certificates can be printed off or saved to a folder as a PDF/Word Doc, so you'll always have them. To update them, just retake the courses. Hope this has been of use? Regards, Neil


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