Stepping into a new life outside of the police family.
For years my job, friends, and social life had revolved around the police. Even with friends and family that had nothing to do with the job - missing events and not being free during evenings and weekends impacted my relationships with them. Leaving the police was like stepping into the great unknown. What should I do next?
After being medically retired from the police my grand plan was to run headlong into a job that was just a job - something I could leave at the door and forget about outside of working hours. My GP had other plans. He signed me off sick. I begged him not to as I just wanted to get started in my new life. With hindsight, he was right. I needed some space to rest and recover. Going through all the examinations, case conferences, and federation meetings was exhausting. Immediately getting a job was not going to help with my recovery.
The great thing about being medically retired is you can start claiming your pension - yes I’m in my 30s and I am a pensioner! The lump sum, plus small monthly payment was more than enough to soften the blow of not having a job for a few months.
When my GP signed me off as fit to work again, I started applying for part-time jobs. Working part-time seemed sensible as my pension payments weren’t enough to live on alone but my mental health wasn’t up to full time work just yet.
"Employers love employing ex-police officers... so why wasn't I getting any interviews?"
One thing I heard a lot was that employers love employing ex-police officers. And I agree that all the employers I have had since leaving the police have cited this as a big plus when they saw my CV - they assumed I would be honest, have attention to detail and possess good conflict management skills (which I think are all true!) But it felt like it took a very long time to even get past the paper sift stage of applying for jobs. I can’t tell you how many jobs I applied for and never heard back from. It was pretty soul destroying. I knew I was smart, dedicated, and an asset to any company - so why wasn’t I getting any interviews?
Whilst I was applying for jobs I volunteered as an admin assistant for my local Job Centre. I had been applying for administrative jobs and I thought this voluntary position would help show that I had these skills outside of the police. During this volunteer work I connected with a member of the Senior Management Team and spoke to her about the problems I was having in finding a job. She kindly offered to take a look at my CV and see if there was anything that stood out to her. She took one look at it and told me it would be great if I was applying to be a police officer again, but nothing on it suggested I was looking for the types of jobs I had been applying for.
Of course! It seems so obvious now that I needed to tailor my CV to the jobs I was applying for, not the industry I’d just left! A CV isn’t a record of what you have done and where you have been, it is a chance to sell who you are and what you can do for the company.
"Don’t underestimate the power of a good CV!"
She completely rejigged, re-worded and re-invigorated my CV. I updated my CV on all the recruitment and jobs websites I had uploaded my profile to and within days I was contacted by the director of a small energy company asking if I would like to apply for a vacancy they had. I did and within a week I had a new job!
I updated my CV with my new skills and experience each time I was looking for a new job - and I made sure to tweak it to what I was applying for. The times I’d get asked to attend an interview by far outweighed how often I didn’t hear back. Don’t underestimate the power of a good CV!
My first steps to moving on from the police were to take some time to myself, reach out to others for help, and to make my transferable skills crystal clear to potential employers - they have neither the time nor the inclination to decipher how a complex 12 month investigation into retail burglaries is going to help them meet their KPIs. Police officers have a wealth of transferable skills - communication, problem solving, organisation, conflict management, public speaking to name just a few!
Do you want to be employed after leaving the police? How will you sell your skills to potential employers? What could you do now to start planning for the future?