Lately, I’ve been doing a lot of mentorships for current and retired law enforcement officers looking to transition into private sector executive protection roles. This is primarily due to my position as the head of the Law Enforcement/Military Liaison committee in the ASIS Executive Protection Community, of which our very own Jerry Heying is the Chair of that community. Also, it’s because I’ve made that transition myself. After spending almost 27 years working for the California Highway Patrol, I was lucky enough to retire and almost immediately find a job as a corporate executive protection manager. A lot of my former colleagues, nearing retirement, reach out to me for advice, which I happily do. I do it for LEO, Military, my fellow NLA members, or any decent person that is considering this line of work. We need good people in this business.
Here’s the advice I share. I believe it’s universally applicable to all candidates, not just LEO or Military.
First, decide what you want to do and where. It really doesn’t work well if you want to be a celebrity protector, but you don’t want to move to where the celebrities live or work. I know that you can probably come up with an example of a celebrity that lives in a small town in a remote area… but that’s not the norm. This is virtually the same for corporate EP, Ultra High Net Worth individuals, and also High Threat PSD work. Go to where the jobs are, they more than likely won’t come to you.
Once I decide on what I want to do and where, I start researching qualifications. I primarily do this on job websites, like indeed, or company career pages. I see what training and experiences they are looking for and then I make a “realistic” self-assessment. I say realistic because sometimes we kid ourselves about what we’ve done, or we try to “fake it ’til you make it.” Don’t do that. If you haven’t done something, that’s ok. We all haven’t done something, until we’ve done it. So, if they request training, go get training. If they want a certain amount of experience then you may have to wait until you have that experience, or you may be able to articulate an experience you have had that is transferable to the job you want. There are a ton of skills that are integral to protective operations that LEOs, military commandos, and others haven’t learned, but a hotel concierge has.
Next, write a resume. In my opinion, this is the least valuable part of getting hired. It’s necessary but not the critical piece to the puzzle. You can ask any hiring manager, would you hire someone that you had never met, was not qualified, but had a beautiful resume… probably not. Just list who you are, concisely write your work experience that pertains to the role you’re applying for, and your education level. So many times, I see resumes that have a bunch of fluff or LE/Military jargon and I ask myself “What does that have to do with this job?” Leave all the cool stuff out, you can talk about it in the interview… if they ask.
Networking, in my experience, is the most valuable thing you can do to land the job. Networking is how I got my current job and most of the specialty assignments I had in law enforcement. I think it’s human nature to favor the known over the unknown. Would you hire a stranger to babysit your children rather than someone you neighbor recommended? What if the stranger had a really nice resume? I think all things being equal we would always defer to the person we’ve met or a referral from a trusted colleague. In the corporate world referrals are huge… more specifically internal referrals. So, if you know someone that works for a company that you would like to work for, ask them for a referral. I could go on about networking, but honestly you should listen to NLA member Craig McKim. Craig is the guru on networking.
Jerry Jacobs is a EPI graduate of class 74. He currently works as an executive protection manager for a global leader in the Biotech industry in California. Prior to that, Jerry was a Lieutenant for the California Highway Patrol, where he served as the Commander of the Governor’s Protective Detail.