If you’re a Hiring Manager in the Security industry, you know how difficult it can be to find qualified and reliable Security Guards. There might be a lot of vacancies – but there’s not enough candidates with the right licensing and experience to fill them.
Whilst candidate shortages are a problem for many UK industries, it doesn’t make it any less frustrating. Security Recruiters face piles of applications to sort, countless interviews to schedule, and rising expenses.
But with the right systems and tools, you can fill open roles efficiently and at a lower cost.
Common Challenges for Security Recruiters
First, let’s dive into the common challenges we see in security recruitment. Do any of these sound familiar to you?
Attracting licensed & qualified staff
A major issue in the UK is attracting applications from candidates with the right qualifications. Many candidates apply without the necessary licenses, which can lead to a whole host of issues.
One security firm even ended up in court after hiring unlicensed workers, so it really is important to stay on top of.
Filtering through applications
The high volume of applications received for Security positions can make the selection process overwhelming, especially when many are coming from unqualified candidates.
Many Security Recruiters we speak to still tend to filter through these manually, not making use of an ATS or automated recruitment system designed to make the job easier.
Interestingly, some of the common reasons we hear for not using automation are concerns around cost or a general mistrust that an automated system will filter applicants correctly.
Cost of hiring
A high turnover rate in the Security sector means increased hiring costs. Even without the high turnover, the demand of the industry means that Recruiters are always looking for more qualified staff on a recurring basis.
After covid, the shortages in the industry got even more severe. Recruiters had to rely on expensive agencies or keep spending time and money to advertise for roles that they once could fill.
Even with the need to hire often, Tony Brown (Head of Security for Mikhail Hotel & Leisure Group) finds himself turning away most new candidates, only adding onto costs.
So how can you start overcoming these common hiring challenges in the Security sector? When it comes to attracting the right candidates, it all starts with your sourcing process.
What job boards to use
Use job boards that specialise in Security recruitment to target potential candidates. Websites like SecurityClearedJobs.com, Totaljobs, Indeed, and LinkedIn are good platforms to start with. Guard Pass is also particularly popular in the UK.
If you’re recruiting across the country in different locations, don’t forget to target local job boards. A lot of Security staff work the job as a second job, so by targeting local job boards, you increase your chances of recruiting local people who may want to make a side income.
Posting on a mixture of general and industry-specific job sites would be ideal to give yourself the best chance of attracting as many people as possible.
Promoting job openings on your own careers page and social media channels is also a great lower-cost way to get in front of candidates.
Write compelling job ads
A well-written job ad can substantially increase your application rates. A good job advert clearly outlines the requirements, responsibilities, and benefits of the position.
Be specific about the desired qualifications, including any necessary licenses or certifications. If you know you’ll need candidates that hold an SIA license for example, use keywords like “SIA licensed” and “Security screening” to attract qualified candidates and filter out unqualified ones.
Make sure you also research what Job Title gets more searches. Is it Security Officer? Or Security Guard? Doorman or Bouncer? It might sound irrelevant, but the difference in search numbers could be huge.
To make sure you’re hitting all these key points, we’ve put together a Job Advert Writing Checklist to help.
Emphasise training and career growth
One factor that’s stopping applicants from entering the Security industry is training. It used to take 2 days to complete an SIA training course, but now it takes 8.
A lot of people can’t afford the cost or time off work. That’s without factoring in the compulsory top-up training that SIA holders must complete as of October 2021.
Supporting potential new hires with discounted training or even paid for training opportunities can instantly make working with you more attractive. Or perhaps offering schemes where it’s deposit only and minor amounts are taken from a pay cheque – like how a student loan works.
It’s also important to emphasise career progression. While some may be happy to take on your roles as a secondary job, there’ll be people who may want to progress. Whether that’s progressing to a Head of Security position or using the experience to transition to Close Protection Services, you can make the job and training much more appealing.
Focus on company culture
Forming a positive company culture is a great way to attract candidates to work with you.
As put by Silvertrac:
“A lot of Security companies justify not investing in a corporate culture by insisting that the majority of their hired officers leave within 90 days. These types of employers need to understand that the best security officers leave the job because they don’t have a reason to stay with the company.”
Simple things like creating ensuring staff can communicate openly and honestly with supervisors, or providing days out where teams can bond and socialise away from a high-stress environment can make your company stand out from the rest.
The more a person feels like they’re part of a team and valued, the more likely they’ll be to stay.
Offer competitive pay and benefits
Research the standard pay for Security roles in your area and match or exceed it. If you’re not able to do so, providing benefits like health insurance, retirement plans, and employee discounts can help.
John Hughes (Founder of Liverpool Nightlife), had this to say about Security pay:
“There are still companies offering just £10 an hour to door staff. I was paying £10 an hour 20 years ago. It is difficult for the bars to start paying out more wages when all their other costs are going up. They are also carrying debts built up during COVID. We have had to pay people a little bit more money to attract them in. All the staff working for us work the doors as a second job…”
Outside of Nightlife, Heathrow Airport is also set to face mass shortages this summer. 1 in 3 security officers are expected to leave, with low pay set as the prime reason. Unite General Secretary, Sharon Graham, said of the situation:
Streamline the interview process
Unless you’re recruiting for a supervisor or a Head of position, most Security positions would be entry-level roles. Provided they’ve done the right training, you want to cut straight to the part where you figure out if they have the right temperament and character for the job.
This is where using automation in the early stages of hiring can help. A recruitment system like occy will automatically filter applicants for you, advertise roles, and even let candidates self-select an interview date. The time security recruiters spend manually filtering they can spend engaging and creating relationships with clients. The phrase “people buy from people” could not be more true in security, where personal relationships can be the difference between landing and not landing contracts.
By taking too long in the early stages, you risk missing out on getting candidates through to the final interview stage.
With applications frequently coming through from unqualified candidates, it can be a huge time sink for recruiters to find the right hires. But it doesn’t need to be difficult.
Use killer questions
Using ‘killer questions’ in your initial application form will help you identify unqualified candidates early on. For example, you could ask “do you have an SIA license?”.
A good recruitment system will then automatically reject anyone who answers NO, saving you time, effort and energy sifting through applications.
Check for licenses using screening technology
When you’re hiring in volume, conducting proper background checks for every candidate can be time consuming. But of course you want to do your due diligence.
Save time and effort by checking licenses and certifications with screening technology. occy for example, will simply ask you select the candidates you want to do a background check for and do all the work for you.
This means you can put that time towards preparing for in-person interviews. Then, once the applications come through, if you’re happy with the license and reference, all you have to do is see if they’re a right fit for your company.
The cost of recruitment is a well-known issue in the Security space, but using a combination of automation and reporting tools can help alleviate the pressure.
Leveraging automation tools throughout your hiring process can save you time AND money in the long run. There are now plenty of tools out there designed to do this.
For example, during the job advertising stage you can use multi-posters that post your roles across numerous job boards at the click of a button, with many providers of this service able to do this at a discounted rate.
This would also then reduce your reliance on expensive external recruitment agencies to get candidates for you.
The smart filtering tools we mentioned will also speed up the hiring experience, reducing the risk of candidate drop offs which can be a huge cost in itself.
Track your metrics
Knowing your recruitment metrics like cost-per-hire, time-to-hire and fill rates is key for improving your hiring performance, including cost! This is because you can pinpoint what areas of your hiring process aren’t working, and refine your approach.
For example, maybe you calculate your cost-per-hire and identify recruitment agencies are driving it up, but your most impactful candidate sourcing channel is actually social media.
Calculating and understanding your metrics can be time-consuming, so using reporting tools that calculate them for you is a popular alternative.
occy is one of the only recruitment systems out there that will calculate your cost-per-hire for you, and accurately identify your most impactful job advertising channels.
Without the stats, you’re stabbing in the dark.
Recruiting for Security in the UK comes with its own set of challenges – but many of these challenges can be overcome with the right recruitment tech.
Whether it’s sourcing candidates using the right job boards, making the most of smart filtering tools, or generally using automation software to streamline your hiring.
You may not be able to control other external factors like wages or the economy, but having a robust recruitment process in place gives you the best chance possible to compete against all those external factors.
Striking the balance between using hiring tech and a human approach to hiring comes with its own challenges – which is why we’ve put together the guide Automation vs Humanisation in Recruitment. Why not give it a read?