Exploring career options and determining the best way to reach our goals is a journey that all of us have spent many sleepless nights pondering at different times in our lives and at different stages of our professional development. This is especially true in a field such as loss prevention, which for most of us wasn’t the path that we expected to be traveling when donning our high school caps and gowns right around this time of year a few—and for some of us, more than a few—years back.
This query was a subject of recent online discussion:
“I have a question for the group… I’ve been trying to find a multi-store leadership role in the LP field. The current company I work for does not offer any special certification or any local position above single store. What steps should I follow to make myself a more stand-out candidate?”
This particular candidate has five years’ experience in LP, all while attending college. He has earned two degrees: a bachelor of science in biochemistry and a bachelor of business administration in finance. So what advice can we offer him? As one might guess, the suggestions offered were both diverse and plentiful:
“I would strongly suggest that you follow your degree in business to find your answers.”
“Get as much certification training in loss prevention/e-commerce as you can afford.”
“Contact some of the recruiters in our field.”
“Diversify. Today’s leaders in loss prevention need to bring the whole package to the table.”
“Take a deeper look at your current employer.”
“Get out of this dead-end job and find a company that offers you what you’re looking for.”
“Take a one- to five-year detour into operations.”
“Be patient. I spent several years working and learning before the right opportunity came along.”
“Look at other areas of the company, such as safety or supply chain/distribution to gain additional management experience.”
“Look into interview training such as W-Z’s CFI.”
“Reach out to the LP Foundation to get your LPQ or LPC certification.”
“Get out now and don’t waste your time. I’m now in law school wishing I did this years ago.”
“Have you tried government positions? There are positions in Homeland Security and others you would probably qualify for since you have a BS.”
“There are vendors that offer scholarships every year that can help you stand out. That is an option.”
“The company I work for is always looking for great people if you’re looking for a new opportunity.”
“Get involved in as many LP organizations as you can. Go to conferences and soak up all the knowledge possible. There are so many people willing to help, LP is a very tight community.”
It was great to see the effort that so many put into providing career guidance to a fellow LP professional. Several offered personal assistance and additional support simply because the young man asked for it, which is what we’ve come to expect from the LP community.
Finding the Path
But what is the right path? All of us have heard many of the same suggestions at different points in our professional careers. Having many years of experience in executive search in my past life, I have heard all of these and many more. But making the right choice isn’t as simple as pulling a name out of a hat.
Advice is typically given based on our own personal journeys. We look at our own experiences, our familiarity with similar situations, and our knowledge and understanding of the subject coupled with the information that’s been provided in order to form an opinion and offer potential solutions. As a result, any of these suggestions may be correct. All of them may be correct, or none of them may provide the best possible outcome. That’s because what’s missing—and must always be considered—is personal perspective. That part of the equation is a critical factor when making these life-changing decisions. It’s up to each of us to choose our own path, and then carry the commitment that brings it to fruition.
Loss prevention jobs inhabit an evolving industry, to be sure. It’s a profession that requires those that are willing to grow with it. But growth can take place in many different ways. Sometimes it may involve considering a different program with a different company and an alternative approach to loss prevention, asset protection, or profit protection—the many names for our profession. Sometimes it may mean looking at growth through other areas like operations, safety, or supply chain, as these are important aspects of becoming a well-rounded LP professional that are frequently overlooked. But just as often, the simplest solution can provide the best answer.
Professional growth requires commitment, effort, flexibility, and patience. Many companies can provide you with a wealth of opportunities—and sometimes the program that you’re looking for carries the name currently appearing on your paycheck. They have good leadership and a strong program. They provide guidance and mentorship. They offer the prospects for continuing growth and development. Rather than knocking on other doors, sometimes it’s best to start at home first. The key is finding the best path for you, based on what you want—as well as what you need from a professional standpoint—and showing the patience to allow the opportunities to unfold.
For those that don’t find the answers in loss prevention jobs, I suspect that most knew from the beginning that this wasn’t the fit or the career that they wanted. This can cause us to question our choices and fail to make the commitment necessary to find success. Eventually, most make decisions that will put them back on the right path. That’s the right decision for them and can prove to be a great decision based on what they want out of a career. But that doesn’t mean that you can’t or shouldn’t make a different decision for yourself.
Staying current with developing trends and the need for continuing training and education is critical in order to remain relevant and a key aspect of moving forward at every level. Certifications such as LPQ, LPC, CFI, and similar areas of study provide exceptional opportunities for growth. Some, like LPQ and LPC, are eligible for college credits as well at both the bachelor’s and master’s levels. All of these programs also have online opportunities.
Many companies also provide tuition reimbursement as long as the field of study is related to your career field. Some solution providers will offer scholarships for these programs as well. Check with your HR department to see if that’s a viable option.
Take the Steps
A simple and easy place to start is to stay informed. College is a great option, as are the industry certifications. But there are also other resources like LP Magazine that offer additional opportunities to stay current on the latest industry news and trends. That’s a great place to start and a convenient source of information. You can even get an app for your phone if you want. But it’s up to you to make the first move. It’s your future.
Most importantly, you have to start by looking at yourself first. Are you doing everything you can to get where you want to go, or are you waiting for the world to fall at your doorstep? Responsibility starts with the person staring back at you in the mirror. No person and no company is going to make those decisions for you, regardless of whose name is above the door at the store.
As for our colleague that started this discussion, we have an ambitious professional that worked his way through five years of school to earn two college degrees in two very different fields of study. With his education just recently completed, he’s already asking, “How do I make the best possible decisions to help me get ahead? What do I need to do to help make myself successful?” These are the right questions, and will likely lead to the best possible outcomes. Standing up is the first step towards standing out. Patience, friend—you’ll get there.