If you’re looking for a job as a security guard, a great resume may be the difference between a low-paying gig with poor working conditions… and a prestigious position at a large company with a robust salary, comfortable workspace and benefits. Most employers don’t expect that intellectual “extra mile” (in the form of a polished resume) that presents you as a grade-A professional, ready to ensure the smooth and safe running of their day-to-day operations. And that’s where you may have an edge over most other applicants on the security market . Most don’t bother with creating great resumes. Or don’t reach for those well paid corporate positions that require a bit of convincing to attain.
Security guards play a vital role in protecting businesses, industrial facilities, residential communities and many other entities. Among the many functions security guards may perform: patrolling the property in search of suspicious activity, checking to make sure gates, doors and windows are locked, identifying fire hazards and similar dangers, monitoring surveillance cameras, screening people seeking entrance to private property, providing assistance to authorized visitors etc.. If you are seeking a job in private security services, your starting point is an excellent resume that will make you stand out from other candidates. And the best way to create one is by using the resume builder tool and field-tested templates at resume.io — the leading experts in crafting occupation-specific resumes. This step-by-step guide will give you all the information you need to create an outstanding security guard resume. What we’ll cover:
- The current state of the industry, including the outlook in demand for private security jobs and the anticipated pay ranges.
- The crucial components of a winning resume, including your personal profile, employment history, education/certification and critical skills.
- The promise and perils of the electronic Automated Tracking Systems that can make your resume sink or swim.
- The need to avoid the error of a cookie-approach and customize your resume to each prospective employer.
Let’s dive in.
Security Guard job market: The outlook is secure
There were some 1.14 million security guards in the U.S. alone as of 2018, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), and there are expected to be 40,200 more by 2028 — an increase of 4%. This anticipated job growth is about the same as for most other occupations. So while this profession is not expected to experience phenomenal growth, neither will it decline. As the global economy grows, so will the need to protect its assets. And those 40,200 new jobs will all be filled by someone, so one of them might as well be you. Also, of course, there will be flux within the 1 million-plus existing jobs, as current security guards move from so-so jobs to better ones. Your goal is to get the best job you possibly can, competing with a large pool of applicants for a sizable but limited supply of jobs. This brings us back to the need for an outstanding resume.
Below are the industries with the highest levels of employment for security guards, along with total employment and mean annual salary:
Industry Employment Annual mean wage
Investigation and security services 667,940 $28,960
General medical and surgical hospitals 38,710 $35,380
Traveler accommodation 30,880 $31,510
Elementary and secondary schools 30,410 $34,920
Real estate 26,040 $36,780
Below are the top-paying industries for security guards:
Industry Employment Annual mean wage
Natural gas distribution 130 $59,290
Residential building construction 80 $53,000
Aerospace products and parts manufacturing 840 $52,790
Electric power generation, transmission 5,250 $48,700
How much is the pay?
The median wage for security guards in the U.S. in 2018 was $28,490, meaning half of them earned less and half earned more, according to the BLS. The bottom 10% made under $20,290, while the top 10% earned over $49,650. Another way of calculating pay is by average or mean salary — the sum of all wages divided by the total of all wage earners. For security guards, this average was $30,730 in 2017, according to the BLS. This is the equivalent of $14.78 an hour. It’s important to remember that these are averaged numbers. On an individual basis, you can get paid much more (or less) depending on what impression you make and what employers you target. Another reason to reach for excellent opportunities with a great resume!
Below are the median annual wages for security guards in the top industries that employed them.
Industry and Median annual wage
Educational services (state, local, private): $33,120
Health care and social assistance: $32,950
Accommodation and food services: $28,830
Investigation, guard and armored car services: $27,100
Ward off a bad cv! Get inspired by other resume examples from the same security and protective services category:
Profile: Reporting for duty
Most hiring managers take just a few seconds to review a resume, and the first thing they will see is your profile. It’s critically important to hit this first impression out of the ballpark. Also known as a summary, the profile is your opportunity to introduce yourself to your prospective employer in your own words, describing the qualifications and aptitudes that make you ideal for the job. While your employment and education history are a done deal that you can’t change, the profile allows you the flexibility to stress the qualities you possess that employers are seeking. Be confident and assertive without sounding arrogant or boastful. Put yourself in your target employer’s shoes and describe the precise candidate he or she is looking for.
In this section, strong adjectives are your friend: “committed,” “responsible,” “detail-oriented,” “meticulous,” “courteous,” “collaborative,” etc. Complete sentences are not necessary, so you can drop the “I am” or “I have” — your reader knows you’re talking about yourself.
Correct spelling, grammar and punctuation are absolutely crucial in every resume. In fact, the top reason cited by hiring managers for rejecting a resume is bad English. Bear in mind also that resumes are not carved in stone, and you should not plan to send the exact same one to every prospective employer. Study your targets, learn what’s important to them, and tailor your resume accordingly to each of them.
ATS: Bad resumes stop here
Job listings often generate a flood of resumes, more than any person would ever want to read. This is why so many employers today use electronic Applicant Tracking Systems (ATS) to filter resumes for them. How these systems work: Employers know the job qualifications they’re looking for, and they input these in the form of keywords and phrases into their ATS software. When the resumes start streaming in, they are fed to the ATS ’bot, which searches them for these crucial contents and ranks them accordingly.
If no specific job description is available, do some sleuthing by scouring your target’s website (or other sources) to learn what types of security it specializes in. Then highlight any part of your experience, aptitudes or skills that are relevant to this company. This information can be useful to you in tailoring the profile, skills and employment sections of your resume for each employer. Don’t fly blind!
Security Guard resumes that contain none of the words crucial to the job description will be filtered out so that a human reviewer doesn’t even have to bother looking at them. But resumes that hit most of the right notes will be greenlighted for further review. Savvy job applicants strive for “ATS optimization,” which is similar to search engine optimization (SEO) in that it anticipates search terms and front-loads them into the material. To do this, study job descriptions carefully to find out which job skills are important to employers. If a significant part of the job is “monitoring surveillance cameras,” and you have experience in various security systems , it’s probably a good idea to mention this in your resume.
Experienced and professional Security Guard with over six years of experience in commercial and residential settings. Safety focused and knowledgeable of laws and enforcement policies. Highly organized and adept in handling multiple situations at once. Bringing forth the ability to effectively monitor assigned areas, and contribute to a safe and secure environment. Committed to serving as a visible sign of authority and safety, and dedicated to preventing intrusion, damages, and breaches of security.
Job history: Your proven track record
Newcomers to any field may be familiar with an old Catch-22: You can’t get a job without experience, and you can’t get experience without a job. If you’re in this position, just remember that everyone working in this field once got their first job. If you do have a track record of employment in private security, list it in this section in Reverse Chronological order (last job first, first job last). List the name of each employer, where it’s located and the dates you worked there. Then, list the things you did for each employer (3-4 bullet-points for important positions, 2-3 or even a short sentence for less important ones), using strong action verbs: “guarded,” “protected,” “patrolled,” “monitored,” etc. Avoid using words like “was responsible for” and instead describe what you actually did.
Another reason employers sometimes reject job candidates is unprofessional email addresses. If your email is dungeons&dragonslayer(at)cheap-emails.com, get a new one! Strive to convey professionalism, excellence and attention to detail at every level of your resume.
Your contacts should be handled with as much care as the rest of the document!
Be as specific as possible: “Thwarted two break-ins in three years, leading to arrests and convictions” or “Identified numerous safety/fire hazards and advised on resolving them” is far more powerful than “Was responsible for perimeter security.” If you DON’T have experience in private security, take a close look at your job history to identify skills they called upon that are relevant to your field. Did your past jobs require courteous and professional interaction with the public? Did you work long hours at night? Give it some thought, and be creative in how you highlight your experience at each job you’ve held.
If you have little or no job experience, perhaps because you just graduated from high school, you may want to move the employment section to the bottom of the resume or eliminate it altogether, and instead highlight your personal profile, education and skills. Another alternative for candidates with no substantial career history is a general Experience section, where you can list your summer jobs, community projects, volunteer work etc.
- Greeted residents and visitors with a kind and helpful attitude.
- Checked identification of all persons entering and exiting the facility.
- Accompanied visitors to their destination when necessary.
- Patrolled areas to ensure they are free of danger or scandal before the end of a shift.
- Provided residents with assistance regarding any safety concerns or questions.
- Documented all concerns and incidents and reported them to a senior supervisor.
- Observed activities via surveillance cameras and called for backup if necessary.
- Handled under-age drinking situations with reference to state law and school policy.
- Trained new hires on company policies and protocols.
Education and certification: Accentuate the positive
Most security guard jobs require only a high school diploma or the equivalent, though some have no education requirement at all. However, college coursework or professional certification in the field can be a big advantage if you’re seeking a more competitive job. Top fields of postsecondary study for anyone in the private security business include criminal justice, social and behavioral science, and communications. A few schools offer programs dedicated specifically to security, with coursework in protective intelligence, corporate security and homeland security. Most U.S. states require registration for security guards, who must be at least 18 years old, pass a background check and complete some level of training. Most employers will provide on-the-job training that covers job responsibilities, emergency scenarios and communication procedures.
Many jurisdictions recommend that security guards receive 8 hours of training before starting their jobs, 8–16 hours of training on the job and 8 hours per year of additional training. Standards are much more rigorous for armed guards, who are required to undergo weapons training. Armed guards are usually required to undergo a more extensive background check, including fingerprinting to search for any criminal record. A variety of organizations offer certifications in private security obtained through coursework. Among these are the International Foundation for Protection Officers and the Private Security Professional of America. A list of organizations for security professionals is provided by SecurityGuard-License.org. Use the education section of your resume to present any education or special certifications you have received, in reverse chronological order.
- 2005-2008 Hunter College, Associate of Criminal Justice, New York, NY
- 2001-2005 Redding High School, High School Diploma, Redding, CT
Security Guard Skills: How you excel
Ultimately, what most private security employers are seeking is not an advanced degree in criminal justice but a candidate who has the skills to do a specific job. So the skills section of your resume is critically important. Perhaps the most important trait in a good security guard is unimpeachable moral character. Most private security companies are aware that their profession attracts bad actors, so consider using words like “Moral character,” “Highest ethical standards” or “Respect for the law.” One list of traits that security guard candidates should be able to demonstrate includes “A trustworthy character.” The BLS identifies these as among the most important qualities a security guard must possess:
- Communication skills: Adept at communicating effectively with others, sometimes in stressful situations.
- Good judgment: Rapidly determining the best course of action in a potentially volatile situation.
- Observation skills: Alert and aware of their surroundings, able to quickly recognize anything out of the ordinary.
- Patience: The ability to remain vigilant and undistracted despite long periods in which everything may appear normal.
GPS Security Group, the leading security services providers in Canada, lists these skills are crucial for security guards:
• A polite, calm and reasonable approach
• Good communication skills
• Ability to solve problems quickly and efficiently
• Good observational and monitoring ability
• Ability to follow instructions
• Technical knowledge of security systems
• A high level of physical strength and fitness
One example of the skills section on a security guard resume:
- Knowledge of Criminal Law
- Excellent Judgment and Decision-Making Skills
- Moral Fitness
- Surveillance Techniques
Resume design: Keep it clean
Security guard resumes should be sort of like their uniforms: clean, buttoned-down and free of excessive decoration. Too many splashes of color, poor type hierarchy and any gimmickry will make your resume stand out for all the wrong reasons. Keep it professional, and keep it short — hold it to one page, and don’t pack the page with long blocks of dense text. Remember that hiring managers usually spend just a few seconds looking at a resume, so make those seconds count. You want a good visual impression at a glance, before the first word is read. Check out our resume template collection, specifically the Simple (timeless classics) and Professional (clean and disciplined) categories for a great professional image.
One mistake is to send resumes in a non-PDF format, because what looks fine in one application on your computer may open in another application on another computer and look terrible. The aforementioned ATS filtering programs will also deep-six your resume for buggy formats. You’ll take no chances if you used the road-tested, HR-approved simple resume templates and builder tool at resume.io. Take a quick tour of the options available, choose one you like, input your own information, and leave any design or formatting worries behind.
A quick review:
- Demand for security guards will grow in the years ahead, and so will the candidates to fill those jobs. A great resume will position you for the best jobs out there.
- You must make your case with a strong profile, the skills employers are looking for, and employment and education histories that stress your strengths in this field.
- You must do your homework on the employers you’re targeting, identifying the specific skills and qualifications they’re seeking and tailoring your resume accordingly.
- Use the proven builder tool and expert-approved templates at resume.io, and you’ll have a resume that avoids critical mistakes and hits all the right notes.