Transferable skills are in demand, but need to be evidenced in the right way to ensure that they count, writes former police officer Peter Kelleher.

Despite the changes to police pension arrangements many police officers and staff are still relatively young when they retire from the police service and may, of course, leave before pensionable age. When coupled with extended longevity and the consequent deferment of the time at which we can draw our ‘old age’ pensions, the need to continue to work and earn a living following police employment remains, for many, a necessity.

In my conversations with former police employees the breadth and variety of roles that they enter following police service never ceases to amaze me. One built on his training experience to teach at a local school. Another retrained as a hypnotherapist, utilising her crisis counselling skills to continue to help people. A third developed a hobby rescuing and restoring old furniture into a part-time business, removing the potential for post-employment isolation and providing a steady source of income to top up his pension.

Fortunately, the police service delivers some wonderful (and some not so wonderful!) experiences – events which people in other professions may never have the opportunity to encounter. This can provide us with unusual examples and evidence of transferable skills; very useful when it comes to subsequent job hunting.

One such skill is that of communication. Although employers may almost automatically view police experience as a positive on a CV, they will still want to know that the candidate can communicate effectively. They will, after all, be representing the employer’s business. Accordingly, examples of effective communication – written, verbal and utilising body language may all be relevant, the detail depending on the role applied for.

It may be that you have used your communication skills to resolve difficulties and differences, or that your written reports are of a standard that is high because they are read by ministers or other senior government officials. It could be that you developed a new approach within interview that has produced enhanced results (for example, adopted as wider good practice). This is all good evidence for a developing portfolio, especially if it is quantifiable or externally verifiable in some way.

Another transferable skill is that of change management. Almost every organisation seems to be undergoing a process of change these days. Cost-cutting, mergers or simply technological advances drive business change and the consequent need for people who are experienced and dependable in the turmoil that this can sometimes bring.

Change management qualifications (MSP, Agile, Prince2 or similar) can be useful, and are often a pre-requisite for technical roles. However, good examples of relevant experience – properly delivered on a CV or within a selection process – can be equally useful. Soft skills can count for a lot and as most change is delivered through other people, evidence of the previous delivery of successful change programmes can be vital.

Alternatively, a number of former colleagues continue to enter the post-police world of commercial security and investigation. Years of investigative experience are highly regarded in certain roles and there are a number of potential avenues, be it as an employee or a sub-contractor working for an hourly rate or on a short-term contract. However, consideration needs to be made of whether an SIA (Security industry Authority) licence is required for the intended employment. The advertisement for the role should normally specify if this is the case but the SIA have a helpful website at http://www.sia.homeoffice.gov.uk/Pages/home.aspx .

Whatever area you may find yourself attracted to as you begin to contemplate life after the police service, it’s a good idea to build a portfolio of evidence and experience. This doesn’t have to be complicated or take very long but a word document or spreadsheet containing a number of bullet pointed examples can be worth its weight in gold when you come to start completing CVs or application forms. If you can write it in non-technical language that can be understood by people outside of policing, all the better.

It forms the basis for drawing on your substantial years of experience and effort and is an easily accessible way of ensuring that all that you have done is not forgotten, instead being available to help you springboard successfully into the next stage of your life.

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.