………or even if you are already wearing it
I think we are all agreed now that it is clear before leaving the job some preparation will come in handy. The days of leaving, having a couple of months off and then starting the second career have left us and I doubt they will return in our working lives so here are my top tips on what you should absolutely have in place as a bare minimum. If you can do these before you leave, fabulous, if you have already left it is never too late to get these basics in place; you just need to get a wriggle on!
1) A brilliant CV – This does not mean that you need to reinvent yourself, what I mean by brilliant is well laid out, clear and non-fussy. Whether you are writing it yourself or buying in the service (ours is recommended!) it needs to convert your policing skills into business ready skills not just a list of what you did in the police. This is a specialist service so unless your provider can prove they can do this please do not waste money on a generic service – you are one of the few people who absolutely must have a CV that can convert your skills to be understood by a wider audience. This is happening time and again and PiPS is doing numerous rewrites for people which is painful if added to either hours of your effort or payment to a generic provider. The CV should come in at no more than two pages long. Rule of thumb here is to think about the person reading it. It needs to be understood by someone who probably is not fluent in ‘police’ and just wants to speed read the clear and easy to read facts. You can add detail to anything offered at interview. Please remember this is not a statement ready to be read in court.
2) You need a short and punchy covering letter that allows you to change and update your reasons for applying for this particular post. Again this needs to be culled of all superfluous information.
3) Have a lively, engaging and complete profile on LinkedIn. Yes that includes a picture (of only you!). LinkedIn can be your shop front and allows you to say more about who you are than your CV will and the majority of employers now look here as a matter of course. And small details really do matter; those of us used to business media can spot a computer literate individual from someone who has done the bare minimum. If you have filled this out so poorly is it because you are computer illiterate, slapdash, or just cannot be bothered? They will not know and it does not reflect well so why take a chance in these challenging times?
4) Get networking in the purest sense. Yes go to networking events to learn how to and to expand your circle but work at making good connections without necessarily understanding how you might help each other. And networking means going beyond the policing circles you are comfortable with. And again LinkedIn is an effective and easy way to network and increase your knowledge.
5) Think about setting up a business and being your own boss. You probably have some ideas but please do not just set up the same security service as everyone else. Think out of the box and get creatively. Not nearly as scary as you might think … BUT …. Build it properly. Foundations are so important. Too many ex-police are saying they have set up their own business but offer no proof or presentable presence. No you should not say you are a company director/owner on LinkedIn and then offer no website or searchable information on the company. You are not being clever you are just undermining your credibility and although you may be approached by other ex-officers (probably looking for work or contacts) real business is unlikely to come your way. In this age of social media and access people will want to check you out before they use you (or even talk to you) and they do that online. You can build something practically for free – and no not one of those out of the box companies offering a generic website they look cheap and they often sell your details on and other mean tricks (real story from more than one member). You can have a blog page that you can dress as a company for next to nothing. And if you want to set it up really well properly then talk to us. If it is set up properly you are then free to get on with the business of finding customers and doing the work you enjoy.
6) Do not spend money on courses that you have no idea will benefit you in the long term. This is just prevarication and a great money earner for less scrupulous businesses. But do commit to learning – this is a new world and why on earth would you know how to do everything?
7) Find – resilience but not bloody mindedness – confidence but not delusion – understanding but not indulgence and you will be well on your way.
Needless to say this just scrapes the surface but these points are what I would consider ‘must dos’ and you can do them in advance or have a reboot and get on with them now if you have already left. Yes there are more stages beyond this but these are some of the foundations you are going to need.
And please do speak to us if you need a pointer on any of this. Pick up the phone and talk to us we are keen to see you thrive.
On behalf of the PiPS team