Canadian Security Magazine

Honesty in recruiting

By Brian Robertson   

Features Opinion

It is easy to find a security officer in Canada who will tell you that the job he ended up in was different from the job he was told that he was signing up for when he or she was recruited. It may be harder to find a security officer who didn't have this experience.

Every year the contract guard industry in Canada takes in over 20,000
new hires. There is a lot of turnover in contract security, and
recruiting new officers is a Sisyphean task. There are a lot of reasons
why it is difficult to attract good people to security. The pay is low,
the hours are often lousy, and the working conditions range from
mind-numbingly boring to nerve-wrackingly dangerous.

These disadvantages are of course only deterrents if the prospective
recruit actually KNOWS about them, and some recruiters are therefore
tempted to mask the truth during the hiring process. They may not
actually lie about what the starting wages are going to be, or how bad
the hours will be at first, but many new hires are mislead regarding
how soon the wages and conditions are likely to improve once they are
on the job.

The ironic result is that a significant number of new hires leave
within the first six months, uttering the oft-heard complaint that the
job turned out to be something different than they had expected.
Ironic, because their departure fuels the need for the same recruiters
who misled them last month to frantically look for even more
prospective new hires to mislead this month.

There may be, however, good news in sight for private security
recruiters. The massive wave of layoffs from many sectors of the
economy should produce a “hirer’s market” when it comes to employment
recruiting. When there are lots of unemployed folk out there looking
for work, there are lots of applicants for security jobs.


This, however, is where the culture shock is going to hit. Most of the
newly-unemployed that we are all reading about are coming from fields
like manufacturing and primary resources. Translation: from much
better-paying jobs than we offer. Get ready for the arrival of
thousands of employment applicants supposedly “desperate” for work who
will turn up their noses at anything that pays less than $20 an hour.
It’s one thing to mislead a 20-year old who still has his laundry done
by his mom. It’s another thing to convince a laid-off
formerly-unionized auto or oil patch worker to accept an hourly wage at
one-third of what he’s been making.

The company recruiters in the contract security sector may not even
attempt to attract the attention of this particular group of
job-hunters. But there is another group who will. The arrival of new
mandatory training requirements for security employees in several provinces , coupled with a flood of government money for the purposes
of re-training the recently laid-off, creates a perfect opportunity for
private security training schools. By this time next year Ontario alone
will be awash in security guard training schools. Many will offer basic
40 hour courses, but many of the programs will be two weeks, three weeks, three
months, six months, or even two years in duration. (Don’t believe it? Ever
heard of a Diploma in Law and Security Administration?) Will the
students who take these courses have been clearly told that they are
likely to start out at $10 an hour (or less) when they “graduate.” Not

It’s sad to think that in an industry where success hinges on the
honesty and integrity of our employees, we seem doomed to launch people
into their careers already convinced that we, the trainers and
employers that they look up to, have lied to them.

It’s too bad that there isn’t some place on the internet where people
who are thinking about careers in private security in Canada could go
in order to get good accurate realistic information about the pros and
cons of security work, from somebody who isn’t trying to sell them
training. That would be a worthwhile project for a national security
industry association to take on today, in order to build a better
security industry for tomorrow.

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