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A tech writer specialising in cybersecurity, working with Redscan on this and a number of other GDPR, MDR, and ethical hacking projects.
April 22, 2022

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Business advice

Career changers: How to seamlessly welcome them into your team

There is a growing awareness of the need for more installers, engineers and integrators in the fire and security sector. While many come from the traditional apprenticeship route, Dakota Murphey explores why businesses should be ready to accept those from other industries and how they can do so – particularly where they have crossover technical skills.

Installer-Alarms-21Getting stuck in a job that you just don’t want to do or like can happen to anybody. Whether it be stumbling into an industry by accident or dedicating your early years to a particular field, everyone is allowed to change their mind.

As time goes by most people recognise the things that make them happy and, knowing how much time we spend at work, lots come to the conclusion that they want to enjoy their job. It’s not always possible but some people decide to take the leap of faith and reskill.

As the pandemic gave people more of an incentive to spend their time doing what they enjoy, ‘career changing’ has enjoyed something of a boom in recent years. In fact, a 2021 survey by Aviva discovered 60% of people planned to switch careers. People are more motivated to seek out new jobs and find a more rewarding work/life balance.

As such, security, installation and integration companies may find themselves primed for career changers due to the transferrable skills involved across these sectors. Such industries have had to adapt to new ways of working and are attracting career changers since witnessing a pronounced shift in how their roles are perceived, as Chris Middleton, Security Director, at ABM UK said, “COVID … allowed us to come to the fore and demonstrate the value we bring as an industry. Perhaps for the first time those working in security are now considered key workers”.

The decision to switch careers, however, doesn’t come lightly as people are likely giving up a well-paid job for something unknown, uncertain and which often means starting from the bottom again. But, with the average age of 39, those who do change careers to follow their passion or skills often find it rewarding.

You may even find yourself hiring a career changer in the not so distant future, so, how can you seamlessly welcome them into your team?

Give them time to settle

Any new starter is given time to settle and typically their probation period would be a good timeline to gauge whether they are cut out for the role or not. You may find a career changer can take a little longer to settle due to the possibility of second-guessing themselves when a few things don’t go their way.

In these times they may question whether they have made the right decision or not. It’s important to be positive to help prevent them from getting too much in their heads. Everyone has a bad day from time to time. Helping career chargers to get through theirs will see them stick to their tasks and reap the benefits of finding a career that suits them.

Offering support is key

While you haven’t hired a career changer to become a surrogate parent to them, they can need additional support. It is sometimes tough on someone coming into a new job in a relatively junior position when they may have been at a mid-level previously.

Obviously, they decided to try something new but that doesn’t mean it should be made difficult for them.

Given their previous level of seniority or sometimes their age, a career changer may be hesitant in asking questions; although they are sure to have plenty. Supporting them through effective management and giving them a buddy or mentor for their early days will help them to settle and find their feet. Having someone who is a peer rather than a manager to bounce ideas off can help a career changer feel like part of the team right away.

Case in point – From mechanic to security engineer

Amthal Fire & Security is a company well averse to the issues surrounding recruitment of skilled engineers into its team. Here, a key strategy since the company was founded has been to embrace the traditional apprentice approach. As Jamie Allam, CEO explains, “we chose to commit to an annual apprenticeship programme right from the beginning to encourage job-specific skills.”

So successful a number of apprentices have stayed with Amthal, and been promoted to senior management team positions. Today, the team operates with a multigenerational workforce. This includes value earned long term experience from those who can relay the specific disciples of the industry, mixed with the newer generations introducing and adapting to smarter technologies.

Amthal-KeepCalm-20But as Jamie explains: “The security and fire safety industry is fast evolving, and we need to stay ahead of the game when it comes to understanding smart systems and mobile-first technology. To do this, we must have the right team with up-to-date skill sets to stay inspired on our journey to success.

“With today’s industry dynamics, one guaranteed topic of conversation is the critical skills shortage.  We have found, being open to diversification in recruitment has helped; with a willingness to learn from our partners and even other industries to welcome new members to our team.”

Amthal has benefitted from engineers transferring skills from several different industries, including a mechanic and mobility engineer and even a chef, who always introduce ways of working whilst learning the core skills necessary for the fire and security industry.

Most recently, Amthal has introduced a new apprentice that arrived with transferrable skills as a previous Level 2 vehicle technician, which he had trained in for four years. His capability includes health and safety awareness together with training, ability and experience of using hand and power tools along with the ability to reach and follow electrical schematics.

Jamie adds: “Working with Skills for Security and with the support of our team, Louie will have the potential to fast track his apprenticeship and complete the course quicker.  It’s early days but all the signs are positive and really opens the door to us as a way to attract new talent to the industry.”

Use their transferable skills

Welcoming someone into your team who has already had a career can be like a blessing in disguise. Not only are they motivated to make an immediate impact and prove their worth but they also have picked up plenty of skills along the way. Discuss with a new starter what their experience in their previous career is and together you may find they have great transferable skills to offer.

They can contribute to your business in more ways than someone else in the same role who has solely done the same job. You may earmark career changers for leadership roles in the future if they have experience leading teams already.

Showing trust in their capabilities, and not holding their hands too much will allow their experience to shine through. In more technical jobs, their competency will become apparent from the start and they may even have more knowledge than others in your team.

Why do people change careers?

There are a few reasons why people decide they need to try something new. Firstly, they may have simply become bored or disillusioned with their current role. Perhaps it’s not fulfilling for them and they would rather find a job doing something they love or suits their skillset.

Secondly, there is a skills gap in the market and they think they would be a good candidate. For instance, the electrician trade has been in high demand for a while and it remains a good time to retrain – which can quickly take you into fire and security systems installation. Taking advantage of industry shortages provides career changers with the opportunity to jump into a busy field and earn good money from the get-go.

Finally, more people are looking for a better work-life balance with increased flexibility following a tumultuous couple of years thanks to the pandemic. Spending more time at home has made people appreciate not having to commute as far or spend as long away from their families each day.

How a career changer can benefit your business

One of the great things about hiring a career changer is their attitude to working. Typically, they are highly motivated and have ambitions to progress in their new industry as quickly as possible.

Don’t forget, they will have plenty of experience behind them and as such, they can add a lot of value to your team. They understand different ways of working and may be able to find solutions to problems that others in the same role can not.

Crossover career changers

Crossover career changers are more likely to hit the ground running as they will pretty much be on familiar territory. They require minimal transition time and are more likely to be treated just like any new employee would be. For instance, people who have experience as fire safety system installers will have plenty of transferable skills if they move into the security installation industry.

Those technical skills will ensure they can transition well and they may appreciate being allowed to get on with the job. Given the crossover with the electrical, security, fire, and AV sectors, there are plenty of people out there looking to mix things up and take a sideways step into another industry.

 

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