April 29, 2018


Author: Jerry Brennan  

Colorful Macro View of a Chameleon Skin. Transition from Your Public Sector Job into a Corporate Security Career.

What is the best way to transition into a corporate security role from the public sector? Here are critical steps you can take now that will help you make the best decisions.

The nature of the corporate security profession lends itself to hiring from intelligence, law enforcement and military agencies. As a result, many of today's top security leaders in private industry began their careers in the public sector. Guidance for a successful transition into corporate security is by far the most sought-after information requested by public-sector candidates who contact SMR.

Information on this topic is easily available and accessible. Social media sites, specialty publications, online career coaches and facilitators - the resources are substantial. It can be overwhelming and add to your confusion if you are just beginning your search.

There are critical steps you can take now that will help you make the best transition decisions.

  • Draw up your plan well in advance of your departure date. Be specific. Consider the impact a change in career or a possible move might have on you and your extended family and resolve any issues early on.
  • Identify what type of organization you want to work for. The private sector is profit driven, focused on productivity and financial performance vs. mission. Research organizations and pursue those with values that align with your own.
  • Network with others who have made the leap. Gather information from people who were successful and those whose experiences were less than optimal. Secure a mentor or consider hiring a career coach who has verifiable experience working with people to transition them from one sector to another.
  • Role equivalency may not exist in your area of expertise. Evaluate your current and past responsibilities and identify skills and competencies that transfer. Remove any government jargon from your resume or CV and describe your experience and achievements in language that is accessible and relevant to a private sector audience.
  • Opportunities for career advancement may be less straightforward or obvious than the environment you are now in. Utilize your network of people who have made the transition to understand what corporate security structure looks like in their organizations. This will help you assess where you most likely fit now and where opportunities for growth exist.
  • Have a clear understanding of compensation models in private industry. Talk to former public-sector people who have made the leap. They understand the differences in salary structures and various other incentive programs. Their knowledge will help you formulate realistic salary goals and inform your ability to negotiate benefits.
  • Private sector companies want to know you can attain targets and achieve goals that have a positive financial impact while working in their fast-paced environment. Develop a list of talking points for interviews that demonstrate you can achieve this despite having come from an environment that some perceive as slow moving and bureaucratic. Specify what kind of value they will add by hiring you.

Start investigating your private sector security career now.

Fear of the unknown is the number one reason for putting off this next step in your career. Start early. Allow ample time to become well informed. It will ensure you successfully transition into a corporate security role from the public sector.

For more information, read "Get Ready to Transition from Public Sector to Corporate Security", published in my Security Magazine column.

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