Former officer Peter Kelleher introduces a process to help those leaving the Police Service find a new line of work.

If, like me, you have enjoyed a varied and interesting police career, the chances are that you would have endured a number of internal selection or promotion boards over time. 

While these sometimes challenging episodes can be uncomfortable they can also offer useful insights into recruitment processes following public service.

Over a 30-year career, I moved around a fair bit and probably had about 20 selection boards, passing around half. I never really knew why until I went on a course on how to recruit people for a team I was running and the penny dropped. It is very much a different experience once you see it from the other side of the table.

Once I understood this, I worked out what I needed to do to get those roles and promotions and – incidentally – how to score highly to make it very difficult for me not to be selected. The secret is in looking at it from the recruiter’s point of view and communicating excellent evidence of your achievements that fit neatly into the role profile that they are looking for.

Of course some prospective roles, in the private sector especially, will not have job descriptions or role profiles to look at and may not have an application form either. 

Some will simply request an up-to-date CV. Many jobs are never advertised and selection is made through word of mouth. So in these circumstances, how can we position ourselves to consider competing for these roles successfully?

Tactical approach

You will want to employ a number of tactics depending on your objective and the first of these is to keep an inventory of the things you have done. Here you need to log projects or operations which you have led or had a significant involvement. Over time, these can be mis-remembered or completely forgotten. Details to keep include dates, objectives, what you did, what the result was and how that had an impact on the situation in hand and the wider picture. 

A result that is quantifiable is best and, if it was externally verified in some way, is the icing on the cake. For example “reduced crime rate by 17 per cent in the target area” would be useful if you were going for a crime reduction role – or “HMIC reported that this project has now been adopted as good practice nationwide” would be favourable in terms of the wider impact of your work. 

In these austerity-aware times, you may have evidence of “my restructuring increased staff availability and reduced budgeted spend by eight per cent” which a profit-making company might be pleased to see and has the prospect of being more easily transferred into the private sector.

Power of recall

This ‘inventory’ is just for you to aid you memory recall when the time comes; nobody else will see it. Ideally you would jot down a few bullet points as you go along from which you could draw when compiling a CV or application to ensure it hits the advertised job description. 

Your CV or application is likely to include only a short paragraph about your role and three or four key achievements while employed in that role. So don’t feel the need to write too much, although you will need sufficient detail to jog your memory to re-tell the story if you move through to interview.

As you build up evidence, you will need to keep an eye on your dream job, if you have one in mind, and consider what a successful candidate for that type of role would be like. 

What compelling evidence would they offer?

How would they make themselves irresistible for the role?

Put yourself in the recruiter’s shoes, if you can. If you were the recruiter, what would you be looking for?

Of course, there’s a lot more to it. We have got loads of great information on the ‘Advice and Guidance’ page of this website, or simply get in touch and we will be very happy to help.