Many industries across the country are struggling to find qualified employees. The security industry is no exception. Finding and hiring the best job candidates for security integrators is complicated by issues such as the current pandemic, diversity and compliance matters and simply finding qualified people. If the pandemic has taught human resource officers anything, it’s that we need flexibility and patience in hiring while still maintaining practices ensuring we find the quality candidates our clients and business require.
About seven years ago, I worked for a tool-making company and we used Craigslist and a “magic sign,” a dry board we’d place in front of our office with details of an opening. These methods attracted a few candidates — generally enough to make a hire. It might have worked for many security integrators who at that time primarily looked for people capable of pulling cable and hanging cameras and door readers.
But those methods don’t work anymore. Today, we need people with IT backgrounds or experience working with enterprise organizations such as utilities and petrochemical companies. We expect much more from our employees. However, we’re in an applicant’s market now. We must be more creative and flexible to attract the type of candidates we require. And we have some roadblocks in our way.
One major problem facing many integrators is the Jan. 4, 2022, federal deadline for companies with more than 100 employees to certify that all are fully vaccinated or tested weekly. While that may not directly affect most integration firms, we follow the regulations placed on our clients, many of which have hundreds, if not thousands, of employees. Often, we hire embedded staff working at a client’s site. Yet, some applicants refuse vaccinations.
During the pandemic, millions of people continue to work from home. We get a frequent question from applicants: ‘Am I able to do this job remotely?’ That might work in the back office, but technicians must be on the client’s sites to install and service equipment. Many candidates ask about the amount of travel required by a job. There is less enthusiasm today for travel as people balance needs for childcare and other family issues. But often, the experience gained handling an installation in Chicago one week and in Georgia the next provides an opportunity to advance to the next job level. An integrator benefits from employees wanting to grow their careers.
Another topical issue facing an HR staff is the push for diversity in hiring. We pay close attention to how our job descriptions are worded, how we conduct interviews and select candidates. As a result, we’re more diverse in our engineering and sales teams.
Some clients have compliance measures in place for subcontractors. It’s not unusual for us to bring a subcontractor onto a job, making it our responsibility to ensure they treat their people according to our client’s requirements. I completed a new policy handbook this year and added a section on human trafficking and child labor at a client's request.
My best advice to share with my HR colleagues would be to fully understand what your department heads want from job candidates. Often, our people are looking for qualities beyond a resume to include a personality that fits the rest of the team and the company’s culture. That’s important. I sit in on as many interviews as possible and ask more questions of my team afterward. The goal is not to settle for a new hire but to find a candidate that fits well and grows with the organization.
Summer interns often provide quality entry-level team members. We use an online service called Handshake to locate students for paid 12-week internships. I expect at least one will come back to our finance department after graduation next summer. Earlier this year, we had a job fair to find an engineering intern in the Atlanta area.
Be prepared to say no. We’ve had applicants ask for guaranteed overtime, sign-on bonuses, healthcare from the first day and four weeks’ vacation within the first 12 months. We’ve had potential interns ask for relocation benefits.
There are still many fine people available for security jobs. Some have years of experience and will fit in from day one. Others have complementary talents capable of bringing new and better ways of meeting our clients’ security needs. Making good hires takes more time and effort than in recent years. The days of the magic sign are gone.