How to Recruit and Retain Quality Security Employees

By Jack Thomas, CPP

It is customary to have interested candidates complete job applications on the spot at job fairs, but some applicants want to send a résumé at a later time. In these cases, ask that a cover letter be sent as well. It is important that the company reply to all those applicants who have submitted résumés. This task can be delegated to an assistant or someone who is familiar with the company’s process; it need not be done by the security manager.

HR involvement. Many companies use their personnel or HR departments to make the first cut on entry-level positions as it is fairly straightforward to assess whether candidates meet the requirements for these positions. However, even if HR is not directly involved, the department should be made aware of the opening and asked if it knows of any candidates who have applied in the past and may now quality for a current opening that wasn’t available previously. HR can also keep security managers abreast of all the current employment laws and regulations. HR will ultimately be involved in the actual processing of the new employee as well.

Interviews. Whether the first interviews are set up by HR or the security department, the most successful interview process involves many people to get multiple perspectives on the candidate’s viability. This process could include representatives from HR, finance, training, operations, and administration. Different perspectives will help determine not only the applicant’s potential for doing the job but also how well he or she may interact with the current staff. Departments asked to participate in the interview process should submit a written recommendation regarding the applicant, including perceived strengths and weaknesses and a recommendation about hiring. Although it will ultimately be the security director’s decision, this type of feedback from others in the organization can be helpful.

Once a final candidate has been selected, the company can then make sure that person is properly vetted to ensure that their background is what they present it to be and that there are no hidden skeletons. The security director should work with HR to ensure that all applicable employment laws are followed throughout this process.

Retaining Employees

After a company invests so much time and money to find the right candidate for a position, it should also take steps to retain that person. Obviously a wage that meets or exceeds that offered by comparable companies in the area is one important factor, but money isn’t everything. Employees also care about how they are treated and whether they have a career path.

With that in mind, the security director should take time to talk with staff on a regular basis to let them know that they are appreciated, to ascertain the general level of morale, and to hear firsthand about any problems that might be cause for staff dissatisfaction. The director might consider whether there are formal ways to recognize and reward good employee performance.

Promotions. One way to reward and retain the best among the staff, of course, is to offer a career path and to promote from within when possible. This tactic sends a positive message to all employees. As soon as a position becomes vacant, managers should post the opening internally. The posting should clearly state the job description, any special training or requirements, salary, hours, and when the position is to be filled. After the opening is posted, managers should accept résumés from interested employees and conduct interviews with every applicant.
Employees who are not accepted must be informed in a timely manner as to why they did not qualify and what they might do to improve their future prospects for promotion. Managers should never leave an employee wondering why he or she was not promoted.



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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