Close Protection CV Guide

Close Protection and Security Industry CV guide. How to write a good CV and get a job as a bodyguard

This guide was written to help ESA Graduates to be successful in finding a job after our Close Protection, Maritime Security and Private Military Contractor Courses. Please read it carefully and make sure you apply each step when writing your CV. After many conversations with major security employers from Europe, Israel and the USA we put all the guidelines together to make your job finding process easier.

REMEMBER – Your CV is your first contact with a potential employer and you need to make a very good first impression. It’s all about how you are going to sell yourself so that you’ll be invited to STEP 2 : The job Interview.

Do your homework - learn how to at least avoid the most common CV mistakes. Read the text below carefully. 

What is a CV?

Curriculum Vitae: an outline of a person's educational and professional history, usually prepared for job applications (L, lit.: the course of one's life). 

A CV is the most flexible and convenient way to make applications. It conveys your personal details in the way that presents you in the best possible light. A CV is a marketing document in which you are marketing something: yourself! You need to "sell" your skills, abilities, qualifications and experience to employers. It can be used to make multiple applications to employers in a specific career area. 


When an employer asks for applications to be received in this format.When should a CV be used?

  • When an employer simply states "apply to ..." without specifying the format.

  • When making speculative applications (when writing to an employer who has not advertised a vacancy but who you hope may have one).

What information should a CV include?

What are the most important aspects of a CV that you look for?

Often selectors read CVs outside working hours. They may have a pile of 50 CVs from which to select five interviewees. It's evening and they would rather be in the pub with friends. If your CV is hard work to read such as unclear, badly laid out and/ or containing irrelevant information, they will just just move on to the next CV.

Treat the security selector like a child eating a meal. Chop your CV up into easily digestible morsels (bullets, short paragraphs and note form) and give it a clear logical layout, with just the relevant information to make it easy for the selector to read. If you do this, you will have a much greater chance of interview.

One survey of employers found that the following aspects were most sought for:

45%

Previous related security or military work experience

35%

Qualifications & skills (Close Protection Courses/ Maritime Courses/ Firearms Courses/ DDM Courses / Security Driving

25%

Easy to read

16%

Accomplishments in your security career

14%

Spelling & grammar

9%

Education (these were not just graduate recruiters or this score would be much higher!)

9%

Intangibles: individuality/ desire to succeed

3%

Clear objective

2%

Keywords added

1%

Contact information

1%

Personal experiences

1%

Computer skills

Personal details

Normally these would be your name, address, date of birth (although with age discrimination laws now in force this isn't essential), telephone number and email.

British CVs don't usually include a photograph unless you are an actor. In European countries such as France, Belgium and Germany it’s common for CVs to include a a passport-sized photograph in the top right-hand corner whereas in the UK and the USA photographs are frowned upon as this may contravene equal opportunity legislation - a photograph makes it easier to reject a candidate on grounds of ethnicity, sex or age. If you do include a photograph and you are applying for executive CPO work make sure you are dressed in a suit and look professional. Remember you are selling yourself , so look as professional as possible. 

Education and qualifications

 Your degree subject and university, plus A levels and GCSEs or equivalents. Mention grades unless poor!

List all Close Protection/ Maritime Security / Medical / High Risk / DDM / Firearms Courses you have completed

 Some employers may spend as little as 45 seconds skimming a CV before branding it “not of interest”, “maybe” or “of interest. 

 

Work experience 

  • Use action words such as "developed, planned and organised".

  • Mention only what is relevant to the security job you are applying for

  • Try to relate the skills to the job. For example if you are applying for an executive CPO job relevant skills may be : Conflict Management, Risk Assessment , Good Customer Service , Very Good Driving Skills , Self Defence Skills/ Qualifications

  • Interests and achievements 

  • Keep this section short and to the point. Try to mention interests which are relevant to the job, if you have any.

  • Bullets can be used to separate interests into different types e.g. sporting, creative etc.

  • Don't use old boring cliches here, e.g. "socialising with friends".

  • Don't put many passive, solitary hobbies (reading, watching TV, stamp collecting) or you may be perceived as lacking people skills.

  • Show a range of interests to avoid coming across as narrow minded : if everything centres around sport they may wonder if you could hold a conversation with a client who wasn't interested in sport.

  • Hobbies that are a little out of the ordinary can help you to stand out from the crowd: skydiving or mountaineering can show a sense of wanting to stretch yourself and an ability to rely on yourself in demanding situations

  • Any evidence of leadership is important to mention: captain or coach of a sports team, course representative, chair of a student society, scout leader:

  • Anything showing evidence of employability skills such as team working, organising, planning, persuading, negotiating etc.

 

Skills

  • The usual ones to mention are languages (good conversational French, basic Spanish), computing (e.g. "good working knowledge of MS Access and Excel, plus basic web page design skills" and driving ("full current clean driving licence").

  • In the CPO/ MSO/ PMC world, good English skills is a must. If you are not a native English speaker make sure you can communicate in English to a good level. If not take English courses or lessons to improve it.

  • Skills relevant to security may be : driving skills/ communication skills/ conflict management skills/ customer service skills/ risk assessment skills/ quick decision making skills/ teamwork/ managing groups of people

References

  • Many employers don’t check references at the application stage so unless the vacancy specifically requests referees it's fine to omit this section completely if you are running short of space or to say "References available on request."

The order and the emphasis will depend on what you are applying for and what you have to offer. For example, the example media CV lists the candidate's relevant work experience first.


What makes a good CV?If you are applying for more than one type of job, you should have a different CV tailored to each career area, highlighting different aspects of your skills and experience.

 

There is no single "correct" way to write and present a CV but the following general rules apply:

  • It is targeted on the specific job or career area for which you are applying and brings out the relevant skills you have to offer

  • It is carefully and clearly laid out: logically ordered, easy to read and not cramped

  • It is informative but concise

  • It is accurate in content, spelling and grammar. If you mention attention to detail as a skill, make sure your spelling and grammar is perfect!

If your CV is written backwards on pink polka dot paper and it gets you regular interviews, it's a good CV! The bottom line is that if it's producing results don't change it too much but if it's not, keep changing it until it does.

What mistakes do candidates make on their CV?

One survey of employers found the following mistakes were most common

 

  • Spelling and grammar. 56% of employers found this

  • Not tailored to the job, 21%

  • Length not right & poor work history, 16%

  • Poor format and no use of bullet points, 11%

  • No accomplishments, 9%

  • Contact & email problems, 8%

  • Objective/ profile was too vague, 5%

  • Lying, 2%

  • Having a photo, 1% 

IMPORTANT!

 When we asked security employers what would make them automatically reject a candidate, employers said:

  • CVs with spelling mistakes or typos, 61%

  • CVs that copied large amounts of wording from the job posting, 41%

  • CVs with an inappropriate email address, 35%

  • CVs that don’t include a list of skills, 30%

  • CVs that are more than two pages long, 22%

  • CVs printed on decorative paper, 20%

  • CVs that detail more tasks than results for previous positions, 16%

  • CVs that include a photo, 13%

  • CVs that have large blocks of text with little white space, 13%

 How long should a CV be? 

There are no absolute rules but, in general, a new graduate's CV should cover no more than two sides of A4 paper. In a survey of American employers 35% preferred a one page CV and 19% a two page CV with the others saying it depends upon the position. CVs in the US tend to be shorter than in the UK whereas the 2 page CV still dominates for graduates but I do see a trend now towards one page CVs: as employers are getting more and more CVs they tend not to have the time to read long documents!

If you can summarise your career history comfortably on a single side, this is fine and has advantages when you are making speculative applications and need to put yourself across concisely. However, you should not leave out important items, or crowd your text too closely together in order to fit it onto that single side

MOST SECURITY EMPLOYERS PREFER CVs in EUROPASS FORMAT. To download a template please click HERE 

IMPORTANT!

Choose a sensible email address!

One survey found that 76% of CVs with unprofessional email addresses are ignored. Here are some (modified) graduate email addresses that you should NOT emulate!

o    death_metal_kitty@hotmilk.com

o    demented_bovine@gnumail.com

o    so_kiss_me@hotmilk.com

o    platypus_mcdandruff@gnumail.com

o    busty-beth@gnumail.com

o    flockynockyhillipilification@gnumail.com

o    virgin_on_the_ridiculous@hotmilk.com

o    yourmywifenowgraham@gnumail.com

o    original_madcow_jane@gnumail.com

o    circle-of-despair@gnumail.com

o    rage_against_the_trolley_fish@mail.com

o    sexylikewoaaaah@hotmilk.com

If you are applying for security job set up a professional email address :

·         john.smith@gmail.com

·         jonh.smith.cpo@gmail.com

·         john-cpo-officer@hotmail.com

·         john-maritime-security@hotmail.com

·         john-smith-contractor@hotmail.com

 How do I get my CV down to two pages from three?

  • First change your margins in MS Word to Page Layout / Margins/ Narrow - this will set your margins to 1.27 cm which are big enough not to look cramped, but give you extra space.

  • Secondly change your body font to Lucida Sans in 10 pts size. Lucida Sans is a modern font which has been designed for clarity on a computer screen. A good rule of thumb is to have your name in about 18 points, your subheadings such as education and work experience in 14 points and your body font as 10 points.

  • Use tables with two or three columns for your military background and references.

  • Use bullets for content, rather than long paragraphs of text. (See the box to the right)

  • Finally set line spacings to single space

If after all these tricks you are still on three pages you have to be ruthless with your content: read every single word and remove it if it doesn't add value to your CV!

Tips on presentation

  • Your CV should be carefully and clearly laid out - not too cramped but not with large empty spaces either. Use bold and italic typefaces for headings and important information

  • Never back a CV - each page should be on a separate sheet of paper. It's a good idea to put your name in the footer area so that it appears on each sheet.

  • Be concise: a CV is an appetiser and should not give the reader indigestion. Don't feel that you have to list every exam you have ever taken, or every activity you have ever been involved in - consider which are the most relevant and/or impressive. The best CVs tend to be fairly economical with words.

  • Be positive - put yourself over confidently and highlight your strong points. For example, when listing your A-levels, put your highest grade first. If you mention your training courses start from those most important ones for the job.

  • Be honest: although a CV does allow you to omit details (such as exam resits) which you would prefer the employer not to know about, you should never give inaccurate or misleading information. CVs are not legal documents and you can't be held liable for anything within, but if a recruiter picks up a suggestion of falsehoods you will be rapidly rejected. An application form which you have signed to confirm that the contents are true is however a legal document and forms part of your contract of employment if you are recruited.

  • The sweet spot of a CV is the area selectors tend to pay most attention to: this is typically around the upper middle of the first page, so make sure that this area contains essential information.

  • If you are posting your CV, don't fold it - put it in a full-size A4 envelope so that it doesn't arrive creased.

  • Graduates sent out 25 letters per interview gained.

  • The average graduate will send out about 70 CVs when looking for their first graduate job. Of these, the average number of responses will be 7 including 3 to 4 polite rejections and the remainder inviting the graduate to interview or further contact.

  • There was a direct link between the number of CVs sent out and the number of interviews gained: the more CVs you send out the more interviews you will get.

  • Applicants who included a covering letter with their CV were 10% more likely to get a reply.

  • 60% of CVs are mailed to the wrong person: usually the managing director. Applicants who addressed their application to the correct named person were 15% more likely to get a letter of acknowledgement and 5% more likely to get an interview

  • Applicants sending CVs and letters without spelling mistakes are 61% more likely to get a reply and 26% more likely to get an interview. "In the age of the spell checker, there is no excuse for spelling mistakes". The most common mistakes to not show up in a spell check were: fro instead of for, grate instead of great, liased instead of liaised and stationary instead of stationery.

  • Set your spell checker to UK English (assuming you are British) or you will get center

    instead of centre, and color instead of colour.

  • Other turnoffs include:

    • misspelling the name of the company or the addressee,

    • not having a reply address on the CV

    • trying to be amusing.

    • Using lower case "i" for the personal pronoun: "i have excellent attention to detail"

 Fonts

  • TIMES NEW ROMAN is the standard windows "serif" font. A safe bet - law firms seem to like it but it isn't easy to read on the screen, especially in the small font size you may need to use to get your CV on one or two pages. If you do prefer to use a serif font, try CAMBRIA which has been designed for screen readability. See the example fonts to the right to see how much clearer Cambria looks than Times New Roman.

  • I personally prefer sans fonts - sans fonts don't have the curly bits (called serifs) on letters. ARIAL is a standard Windows "sans" font and is now used by the BBC web site which used to use Verdana. As you can see sans fonts are cleaner and more modern than Times or Cambria and also look larger in the same "point" size (the point size is simply how big the letters are on the page). However Arial and Times New Roman are so common that they're a little boring to the eye.

  • Classier choices might be VERDANA or LUCIDA SANS which have wider letters than most fonts but if you are running out of space then Arial is more space saving, as is TAHOMA which is a narrower version of Verdana. Notice how, in the example to the right, Verdana looks bigger and easier to read than Times New Roman. CALIBRI is now the standard MS Word font but is smaller and perhaps less clear than Arial, Verdana or Lucida Sans (see the examples to the right again). Never use COMIC SANS of course!

  • FONT SIZE is normally 12 points for the normal font with larger sizes for subheadings and headings.

  • Or 10 points. My favourite CV body text font is 10 point Verdana or Lucida Sans with 12 or 14 points for sub headings.

  • 14 points is too big for the normal body font - wastes space and looks crude.

  • and 8 or 9 points too small to be easily readable by everyone, especially in Times New Roman which should not be used in sizes less than 11 points

  • Although many people use 12 points, some research on this suggested that smaller point size CVs (within reason) were perceived as more intellectual!

  • Most CVs are now read on screen rather than on paper. It's no coincidence that Serif fonts are rarely used on the web - they are much less readable on screen (Times Roman was first used on Trajan's column, 2,000 years ago!), and some fonts, such as Verdana, were designed with screen readability in mind. This web site is set in Verdana which, as you can see, is clear and easy to read.

 In which format should you send your CV?

A survey of UK Security recruiters found that:

  • 63% preferred MS Office Word format .docx

  • 36% preferred Adobe Acrobat format .pdf

  • 1% preferred rich-text format .rtf

  • 0% preferred text format .txt

  • 0% preferred web page format .html 

PDF (portable document format) is perhaps becoming a widely used format now. There are PDF-readers for all platforms (Windows, MacOS, Linux). This also guarantees that you can be confident that it will look as you intended, no matter what reader is used to view the document and it is also secure. Modern versions of Microsoft Word contain a PDF export function or you can download a free pdf converter such as Cute pdf: you install it and then "print" the document to a folder on your PC. PDFs can however sometimes prevent keyword-scanning software on job boards or applicant-tracking systems from picking up information that allows you to be found.

You can also use MS Word (.docx) format. .docx files may not always open on computers using Linux and Apple platforms. .docx files may also contain sensitive information such as previous versions of a document perhaps leading to embarrassment. MS Word documents can contain macro viruses, so a few employers may not open these.

Some employers though may prefer Word as they can edit it, eg to add notes to refer to at interview. There is the possible problem that Word formatting can sometimes change on different computers so it is a good idea to email your CV to a friend to check that it comes out OK before sending it to employers. 

The most common mistakes made via email include:

  • Accidentally clicking send before the email is ready;
  • Embarrassing spelling and grammar mistakes;
  • Accidentally sending a kiss at the end of a message;
  • Copying a client into an internal email about them;
  • Forwarding an inappropriate email trail;
  • Forgetting an attachment

 

 

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