How to Recruit and Retain Quality Security Employees

By Jack Thomas, CPP

One of the greatest challenges for any security director is finding and retaining the right people to fill security positions. The keys to success are to know how to attract and interview candidates and then how to engender loyalty among those who join the team. Also important is how to handle the employees who do decide to leave for other opportunities.


The first step is recruitment. Many companies will constantly look for good candidates and accept résumés for future openings at all times. Useful means of getting the word out about both general and specific opportunities at the company include advertising, employee referrals, and job fairs. No matter the format, it helps to be forthcoming with details if a specific position is open. The more specific you are, the more likely it is that the candidates who respond will be a good fit.


Advertising. Ads can be placed in print publications or online. Online sites are increasingly useful as a supplement to or substitute for newspaper ads. Some specialize by industry and can help the company reach a target candidate pool.
Managers should have sample advertisements ready for when positions become available. These ads should be updated to fit the specifics when the time arises for them to be placed. The ad should describe the requirements, including experience, training, education, and language credentials. In addition, managers should always ask for salary history or salary requirements. Many ads leave out information such as salary and whether there will be relocation expense reimbursement. If these requirements are not made clear up front, a security manager may find a great candidate and then discover that the applicant is not within the budget. This is especially important for companies with offices across the country or for multinationals and for situations where the hiring manager has limited flexibility with regard to starting salary.

Salaries differ greatly in different parts of the world. For upper level positions, if the company is willing to pay any relocation expenses or offer any bonuses, incentives, or promotional opportunities, the ad should mention this. Such details could make a difference to an applicant who has several opportunities and may encourage better candidates to apply.
The use of newspapers or online ads is more common for entry level openings, but for more advanced positions that involved specific requirements or expectations, managers should use trade magazines (many of which also have online job boards). For senior-level personnel, companies may want to consider professional recruiters as they will usually do the prescreening and background checks in addition to setting up appointments.

Referrals. Offering employees an incentive for referrals is becoming a standard practice in the security industry. Companies that pay employee referrals must keep in mind that there has to be a clear, written agreement as to how much the referral bonus is and when it will be paid. If there is a time frame, it should be spelled out. For example, most companies require that a referred employee complete the 60 to 90 day trial period before a bonus is paid.

Job fairs. A great resource for recruiting and hiring personnel is the job fair. Security managers can host a booth or table to hand out brochures and applications and talk with prospective candidates. Keep in mind that many companies may be after the same individuals, and managers must seek ways to set themselves apart or demonstrate why they represent a superior company.



We must be very careful in "At Will" work states that we include external candidates as well to prevent discrimination. It is very easy to promote within but you must always consider outside candidates. Especially, if you have had a previous reduction in force, lay-offs, etc.

Jim Hovenkamp


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