Institutional Locksmithing: Ready When You Are

The more commercial experience that a locksmith can glean, the better chances of qualifying for a government or institutional locksmith position. Usually an employer is not interested in residential or car-opening experience. Safe and vault work is a...


Typically locksmiths that work for lock shops will perform residential, automotive, and commercial lock work and sometimes specialized work like safe and vault servicing or openings.

The more commercial experience that a locksmith can glean, the better chances of qualifying for an institutional locksmith position. When filling out work experience on an application for institutional locksmith, this should be mentioned. If the locksmiths experiences fall mostly in the residential or automotive range work experience should be noted on the application in a more general manner.

For instance, let's say a locksmith worked four years at a lock shop mostly installing deadbolts on homes and performing auto lock repairs and openings. The locksmith would be better served as listing duties as: “Installing, maintaining, repairing lock systems and related equipment.”

If a locksmith worked four years at a lock shop mostly on commercial locking hardware, the locksmith would best be served at listing his duties as: “Specialist: installing maintaining, and repairing, all types of institutional and commercial locking hardware.”

Usually an employer is not interested in residential or car-opening experience. Safe and vault work is a plus, but the mainstay of institutional duties is commercial locks, exit devices, and keying systems.

CERTIFICATIONS

Certain employers have special needs: hospitals for instance, fall under the scrutiny of Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) and Joint Commission on Accreditation of Healthcare Organizations (JCAHO). HIPAA monitors the privacy of medical records and how they are handled and JCAHO sets standards and inspects hospital facilities for compliance.

Locksmiths looking for institutional locksmith positions at hospitals have an edge if they are experience with HIPAA guidelines and JCAHO regulations.

Locksmiths who possess governmental clearances go straight to the top of the list if they are applying for jobs that require a clearance. Clearances are so coveted that companies will offer locksmith training to persons leaving military service with their clearances intact.

It behooves the locksmith to investigate the employer and find out what certifications and qualifications will be of interest to the employer.

For instance an employer might be looking for someone that can manage an extensive key control program. The locksmith should find out what types of keys are used, learn everything there is to know about the key types, and mention that special knowledge in a resume or application.

Additionally, you can bet that knowledge on how to implement the program is valuable. The keys may be controlled through a proprietary program or a familiar database application like “ Filemaker Pro” or “Microsoft Access.” Working knowledge of the implementing program is important to the employer.

What separates institutional locksmithing from other trades is the amount of computer literacy that is required. The day in which keys were controlled on 3x5 cards has long past. Employers expect that locksmiths have some knowledge of databases.

What is the number one database application that most people use? Microsoft Excel. Most people are not aware that Excel is a database application. A spreadsheet is a database.

Locksmiths can use experience with Excel to substitute special requirements relating to database application knowledge.

Employers are also looking for locksmiths that are self-starters. Locksmithing to employers is arcane and hard-to-understand which translates to difficult to supervise or provide over site.

Locksmiths that have had special experiences managing large or time-intensive projects should always mention this on applications. It is an indicator to employers that you are self-starting and capable of operating with a minimum of supervision.

THE HIRING PROCESS

Most employers have a formal hiring process that involves six steps: application review; written exam; performance test; appraisal interview; background check; and physical qualification.

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