I left the metropolitan police in 2014 and had over 3 months paid leave. I chose the date I wanted to leave as I had completed 2 additional years and had reached as far as I would go. Prior to retiring, I had 2 job interviews but had been unsuccessful in both. The first interview was for a stadium manager post at a league 1 football club. I had it in my mind that I wanted to use my public order and health and safety qualifications. The second was for the head of safer communities in a London Borough. I still remember the feedback in that the only fault the HR reps could tell me was that I could not type. I didn’t fit basically. It took a while to get over that one.
During the week, I finished work I was approached to apply for a £100k security post. I got paper sifted. I realised my current CV was not acceptable and I was too police focused. I was then asked to provide consultancy advice to an event safety company. I set up my own business and thought this is it. The work was slow and as I was paid on a day/half day basis the money wasn’t huge. I finally made up my mind that this was not for me after a day at Winter Wonderland in London’s Hyde Park. I spent 2 days paired up with close protection trained operatives delivering plain clothes support to the security team. I detained 2 pickpockets complete with mobile phones and identified 2 staff members stealing from tills, but the insight that event gave me was the most valuable thing I took from it. What did I want or not want from a second career?
I had in the meantime applied for many jobs and must have had 30 plus knock backs. In that time I began to wonder about my worth. I never questioned that leaving the service was right but getting on my feet again was taking longer than I thought, especially when the balance in the bank account is growing smaller. The pension is good but in my case it’s not that good. My mood darkened a little and I began to lose confidence. I got into a rut and began to get a little panicked about whether I would get another job. I worked as an exam invigilator with a secondary school which tended to give you time to think, but it was so dull.
I’d had some interviews but again here there is always learning. First check where the job is based. I had a bit of a shock when I found what I thought was a London and Oxford based job was in fact Bristol based. I didn’t get it so didn’t need to tell them why I wouldn’t take it. Second prepare as you would for a police interview. Know the strategic context and the objectives of the role. My feedback from one interview showed my lack of preparation and narrow focus. Besides they gave me the wrong presentation title so I was way off target and message.
Time passed and my wife pointed out that I was spending too much time searching jobs on the computer and not achieving much. She started sending me jobs she’d seen and thought I might try for. Things occasionally got a little tense when the subject was raised. I applied for one of these jobs at Essex Police HQ, but it wasn’t really what I wanted. I researched it properly made contact with those who had performed similar roles in the MPS and City police and after confidently walking into the interview 90 minutes late was offered the role some weeks later. I didn’t take it.
Some time back a colleague of mine retired and went to work for an East London Housing Association. He was the go to person in the community safety unit on my last Borough Command Unit. He contacted me through linked in and we chatted about how he was getting on and my plans for retirement. While waiting for the result of vetting for the police role I spoke to him again and he suggested looking at an agency that provided case workers for anti-social behaviour in the private and local government sectors. He really encouraged me to give it a go explaining how it was so much like police work and really suitable for retired officers. I looked at the agency sites and realised how close my skill set was to the person specifications.
Less than a week later my wife sent me an advert for a Senior Specialist Officer for ASB in the council. I now have that job at the local authority dealing with neighbourhood issues. It is full time but full time in this role is not policing full time. I have the opportunity to shape a new service and am sought after for an opinion and advice. I am in a comfort zone but also challenged on a daily basis. I am not using my public order or health and safety skills, but I like to throw in some difficult questions which is amusing.
I know that I am not alone in my experiences and that I have been exceptionally lucky in that I have a very supportive wife and family. I have also been fortunate that I was referred to LinkedIn and PiPS after attending a pre-retirement event. When I launched into the work market I was confident that the plans I had made would carry me through but I was ill prepared. A chance conversation with a colleague who is also a member of PiPS identified the horrendous flaws in my CV and profile. I was a cop through and through.
I have learnt a good deal through this journey about myself and how others view me. I have changed and hopefully for the better. I didn’t think I was institutionalised but probably was. I cannot overstate the positive impact of the “PiPS LinkedIn” workshop and CV service as without this I wouldn’t have known where to start and although I had little success initially I think this was more down to my stubbornness and tunnel vision about the role I wanted.
My advice to colleagues in the same boat is to keep an open mind about what you want to do. Get a good CV and profile as companies do check. My route to employment won’t suit everybody, but I bet if it’s not going the way you envisaged on the day you got your tankard watch or plaque you will certainly have the same feelings of self-doubt. Take a step back, look at the bigger picture and refocus and above all try to remain positive.
Shaun De Souza-Brady