Let me tell you about this one jerk that almost ended up working for me.  He was one of those “has a pulse” guys who got hired on my program in the rush following the initial contract award, then lasted about six weeks before walking off the job.  Apparently this guy had been complaining about everything since his initial orientation, but the final straw came when he couldn’t two weeks off for a vacation on a day’s notice.  That all happened sometime last spring, a couple months before I took over the managerial reins, so I didn’t actually get the chance to meet this all-star in person. 

Fast forward about a year, and I guess my company started looking pretty good to him again.  Who knows why, maybe those unemployment checks couldn’t cover the credit card bills from his Tijuana vacation or something.  But anyway, I had an open position at his work site, he re-applied to do the same job, and I almost ended up hiring him back!  From my way of thinking, here was a guy who already had a security clearance and could start immediately.  I was ready to act fast because his job site is in a real out-of-the-way place, and finding replacements there is always a minor crisis since there’s just so few people to choose from in the area.  But see, thankfully I slowed myself down and checked in with my mid-level manager for that work site before pulling the trigger.  His answer:  Not “No”, but “Heck No”.  He gave me the low-down on what a pain in the rear this jerk was, which basically stopped the hiring process in its tracks. 

                See, when it comes to the Human Resources hoops that managers have to jump through, it’s actually a lot less of a headache to shell out extra cash for overtime if you need to run-short staffed for a month than it is to get rid of a mouth breather that you’ve hired (or re-hired) in a hurry just based on your immediate staffing needs.  So for you newer guys, keep in mind that stepping on your own toes is one of the biggest pitfalls of working as an overseas security contractor, where there’s so many big egos bumping around and fighting for space.  You’ve got to keep in mind that no one ever wins in a real-life chest bumping contest!

                How you leave your current job is just as important as how you start the next one.  Try to keep this shit in mind when you’re making your next move, okay?

                -If you’re going to leave, do your best to give notice beforehand.

                In most companies this is a two-week notice, but consider this the bare minimum.  Keep in mind how long it took you to get hired, so if you’ve got a guaranteed position waiting for you then give as much notice as you possibly can.  Usually giving notice of a month or more is ideal.  If you’re already working on a contract and don’t plan on renewing, a lot of companies need this decision from you in writing as far out as 60 days.  Cooperating with them shows you’ve got good character, and that you respect the needs of the company even as you leave them.  Staying on good terms with a former employer is critical in this business, as you might want to work for that company again someday, just not right now.  Ever wonder why it’s so hard to break into a firm like Xe/Blackwater?  A good part of that is because they frequently look to fill positions from former employees who have successfully completed one or more contracts.  Loyalty counts, even when you’re off the payroll.

                -If you can’t give much notice, at least give a good excuse.

                Life happens.  We all know that, and anyone can sympathize with you when a medical emergency hits or a family situation turns bad.  These are all times when it’s perfectly reasonable that you might have to quit a job early to head back home, so you probably won’t be penalized too much for it.  No one’s going to judge you or your choices, but you’ve got to at least be aware of how much of a hassle it is for a company to replace you on short notice.

                Not completing an employment contract is going to raise a lot of red flags when you finally do go back to looking for work, so you’ve got to be prepared to explain the rationale behind your choices.  Also, even though you might be under a great deal of stress as you hurry back home, keep in mind that there’s always going to be a process for checking out and that it might take several days to get a flight out of a war zone.  Even when your life goes south, the world still doesn’t revolve around you.  Do your best to stay calm and go with the flow, and people will at least remember how well you conducted yourself in that tough time.

                -Most importantly, NEVER, and I mean ABSOLUTELY NEVER, curse anyone out as you head out the door! 

Back in my days as a city cop I worked with an older dude who got into an argument with a Captain.  He ended up quitting in a huff, no notice, no letter, nothing.  He just put all his gear in the trunk of his cruiser, pulled it around to the Department, then flipped everyone the bird and hit the road.  That guy’s still something of a legend around the PD, but here’s the thing:  he could afford to go out like that since he was retired from the military, owned his own business on the side, and was only working as a cop because he enjoyed it.  This is why it’s so important to have your financial life together, because I can guarantee that this dude wouldn’t get hired by another Department after pulling that stunt. 

                That doesn’t just apply to security either.  Any company’s going to look at your past performance as a very strong indicator of how you’ll do on their job.  Look, every once in a while, everyone is going to get a little pissed off at their co-workers or their work situation.  It happens, you deal with it, you put on your big kid 5.11 pants and you go back to work.  My best advice to you is to always be reminding yourself that there’s a global recession going on, and you should always be a little bit thankful that you simply have a job.  There are times in almost every job when you might have to bite your tongue and try to roll with the tide.

                And if you can’t manage to do that, make darn sure that you’ve got a pile of money saved up and your own business to fall back on!