|(This series of postings courtesy of K. Fitzgibbons)|
IMAGE PROJECTION : If you are currently an LEO and you are serious about transitioning into the private sector, while you are with the department get as much Executive Protection training or practical work experience as you can get while you're still in.
The USSS runs sponsored training for certain LEO's and Departments. Does your states Governors detail run sponsored training? Many do. The DOJ runs 'Dignitary Protection' courses in many states, and even if they don’t offer one in your state, sign up for one in another, and go there to get the 'Official' training on your resume.
With that said, I would also still recommend seeking out as many 'Private Sector' schools as your availability and budget will allow.
I always recommend to people who are interested in the business (but have no training or experience) to read a quality book on the subject. At least this way you didn’t just spend $3,000.00+ dollars finding out that it's more than kicking arse and taking names".
By no means can a book replace training, but it can provide a degree of education before you make the leap on to an expensive career path.
The second requirement is experience. But if you don’t have it how are you supposed to get it? Ahh that’s the age-old question isn’t it?
The bottom line is, if you haven’t done this work in an “official” capacity (i.e., LEO, Military, Government, etc), then you're going to have to get someone to give you a shot, and the only way to do that is with the proper training and networking.
If I have a position on a Protection Detail and I have two candidates in front of me, one is a civilian with no relevant training or experience and the other is an LEO who spent time on the local Mayor’s Detail and has attended the Secret Service’s protection training module, who am I going to pick? Easy, the LEO.
Now wait, what if I have a civilian who has invested in himself, received quality training and has worked in the field vs. a Leo who spent his career on patrol and has no relevant experience or training? Again easy, I go with the civilian.
I want and need 'protection' experience, and if you don’t have it you need to at least show me you’re training. If your former Military or LEO and you have no relevant training or experience, you need to realize that your competing with guys who do, and until you get some of each, you're less marketable then your competitors.
If you’re a civilian, the toughest part will be getting your shot, but don’t expect one if you haven’t invested in yourself.
The next requirement is 'appearance'. Many qualified agents will not get the calls or the jobs, because they don't look the part. You must spend money on your presentation. Your watch, your shoes, the cut of your suit, it all means something in this business.
I once interviewed with a former Secret Service Agent who ran a very successful Protection Agency. He would not hire anyone that wore a cheap watch or didn’t shine their shoes before the interview.
His thought process was one of looking at agents as his clients would - first impressions count. And if you didn’t care enough to shine your shoes, or if you weren’t successful enough to buy a nice watch, then you weren’t worth his time.
Say what you want, but this is more the norm than the reverse. He was just honest enough to come out and say it.
Fortunately for me, these were lessons that I learned long ago, and we made each other a great deal of money.
Much of what we do is based on first impressions and presentation. You may be "Kevin Costner" incarnate from “The Bodyguard", but if you don’t look the part you wont get the respect or the shot to prove yourself.
If you look professional, you’ll be viewed as professional, and that’s half the battle. Perception is key and your ability to do the job will be determined within the first two minutes of companies and clients looking at you.
Here’s another pointer, criminals need not apply! If you have a criminal history you will not go far in this business. Regrettably, there are companies in this business that do not do their due diligence or background checks, and undesirables can sometimes slip through the cracks.
Legitimate companies wont hire you if you have a criminal record, so don’t bother.
Other skills or requirements that MAY help you get a position, depending on the company and/or client, are :
- Military training
- LEO training
- Emergency medical training
- Defensive Tactics training
- Computer literacy
- Concealed weapon permits
- Weapons training and familiarization
- Investigative training
- Other specialized skills such as skiing, scuba, pilot, etc.
For more insight, see the next posting in this series : NETWORKING.