Working in the War Zone

Imy Clarke - On behalf of Alchemy Recruitment, March 19, 2014

It seems like the perfect job; a niche skill set, a six-figure salary, all travel and accommodation paid for and provided. The catch? It’s in an official war zone.

Why would any company send their employees into such a dangerous situation? The answer is simple; supply and demand. With the global economy still on rocky ground, many companies are turning to war-torn countries to boost dwindling work opportunities. The need for specialist equipment and knowledge can provide many companies with rich pickings in the way of projects; medicine, aviation, security, IT, logistics, education, business development and government posts are all on offer in volatile countries ranging from Mexico to Iraq. Yet, with such difficult living and working conditions, it is fundamental that the right person for the job is chosen.

The biggest preference organisations have is a military background. Ex-soldiers, especially those who have been on the front line, are more than aware of stringent security measures and the importance of cooperation with local communities. Companies such as Halliburton in the USA, specifically target military veterans for many of their jobs in conflict zones. As most soldiers who retire from the military need to find a new job, there is a workforce ready and waiting for Halliburton. Supply and demand continues to keep these jobs going.

Yet, military experience isn’t the only pre-requisite for work in war zones. With a change in the nature of warfare, a good grounding in technology is becoming just as useful as a good grounding in dodging bullets. Some organisations take their employees through rigorous physical fitness tests, others perform personality tests to ensure the ability to cope in high-stress situations. First aid, high levels of communication, the ability to speak another language and no association with political or human rights controversies are all desirable qualities.

More important than weapons training, fitness and first aid, however, is the ability to blend in, socially and physically. A good intelligence network can mean the difference between success and failure, and even life and death. Integrating into the community, and adhering to their customs, makes life easier; the more comfortable they feel around you, the safer you’ll feel in their country. The locals will always know when conflict and crisis are rising, so close work alongside them can very much save your life. Yet, it’s not only maintaining the network with locals, but with other similar organisations and military outposts, national or international. Communication is key.

Working in such volatile war zones holds many risks and requires a multitude of skills. Do you have what it takes?

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