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How to Stand Out in a Competitive Security Guard Job Market in Chicago

Last Updated: November 22, 2023

In this article, we’ll dive into various strategies to help you shine in the eyes of potential employers

Chicago is a thriving city with over 2.6 million residents, making it a bustling hub for countless events, venues, and businesses. As this dynamic metropolis expands, the need for skilled security personnel to protect organizations, individuals, and critical locations continues to grow. But, with an increasingly competitive job market, how can you stand out among the sea of applicants who are also looking to launch or enhance their security guard careers?

The Importance of Relevant Experience

Relevant experience is the secret ingredient to scoring any security guard employment opportunity. In a competitive job market, having a background that showcases your potential to excel in the position can give you a significant edge. This is because relevant experience demonstrates that you already possess the skills and knowledge necessary to perform the job effectively. This translates to less training time and a shorter learning curve for employers, saving them time and resources.

While security job hunting, keep in mind that if you have any of the following experience, it may help you gain a competitive advantage in your application:

  • Military service
  • Law enforcement
  • Customer service
  • Emergency response
  • Loss prevention, such as retail security
  • Security technology, such as working with security systems and surveillance equipment

To highlight your experience in your application, ensure you emphasize the skills and qualities gained from these roles and how they relate to the position you’re applying for. These can include conflict resolution, problem-solving, teamwork, crisis management, and more.

Certifications and Training

Obtaining various certifications can help set you apart from other candidates. While the Permanent Employee Registration Card (PERC) is required under the State of Illinois, additional training can demonstrate your commitment to the security profession, ability to handle emergencies, and desire to grow as a professional.

Research local security companies, community colleges, and vocational schools to find training programs in the Chicago area. Look for programs accredited by reputable organizations like ASIS International or the International Foundation for Protection Officers (IFPO).

Here are some tips to help you highlight your certifications and training on your resume and during interviews:

  • Create a dedicated “Certifications” or “Professional Development” section on your resume, listing each item you’ve completed, the date obtained, and the name of the accrediting organization.
  • Use bullet points to emphasize key aspects of each certification or training program relevant to the security guard role.
  • During interviews, prepare anecdotes that showcase how your certifications and training have prepared you for specific situations. These examples demonstrate the practical value of your professional development efforts.

Crafting a Strong Resume and Cover Letter

A strong resume and cover letter can unlock the door to your dream security job in Chicago. These documents help you make a great first impression and provide a golden opportunity to showcase your skills, experience, and commitment to the profession. To tailor your resume and cover letter for each job application, follow these steps:

  • Study the job description carefully and identify the key requirements, skills, and qualifications the employer seeks.
  • Use relevant keywords from the job description in your resume and cover letter to show you’re a perfect match for the role.
  • Provide specific examples of how your experience and accomplishments align with the job requirements. For instance, if the position mentions the need for crisis management, highlight your experience in resolving conflicts or handling complex situations.

Common Mistakes to Avoid

Even if you’re the perfect candidate, the following errors may set you back in your application:

  • Spelling and grammar errors: This may appear sloppy or careless to employers.
  • Inconsistent formatting: Inconsistent formatting can seem unprofessional.
  • Generic language: Avoid generic phrases like “hard-working” or “team player” without providing concrete examples. Instead, focus on specific achievements and experiences that demonstrate these qualities.
  • Excessive length: Keep your resume concise, aiming for one to two pages. Additionally, your cover letter should be no more than a single page.

Secure Your Next Security Guard Job Today

Standing out in Chicago’s competitive security guard job market may seem challenging. But by focusing on gaining relevant experience, obtaining certifications, and crafting a solid resume and cover letter, you’ll be well-rounded to secure the position you desire. Browse our job bank at Security Guards Only to explore the latest opportunities and find the next step in your career.

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Jeff Ketelaars
Jeff Ketelaars
Jeff Ketelaars is a seasoned security expert with over 35 years in the industry. He founded two security agencies and established Security Conscious in 1990, a firm that offers high-quality training to security professionals. As a skillful negotiator, Ketelaars has secured contracts for Canada's largest security guard union, advocating for fair treatment and compensation for security personnel.

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