There have been some excellent posts in the Police into Private Sector group on Linkedin, so I thought I would add my experience. I decided to leave the Police in 2012. I had been thinking about it since 2010 but had done nothing about it. I was determined to not be one of those officers that moaned about how bad the job was but did nothing proactively to seek an alternative career. I looked at my CV and decided that a Master’s degree would be useful. I applied and was accepted to study part-time at Brunel. Part time study was a great move for me. I met many other people in the public and private intelligence and security fields and my day a week out of the office and into the world of academia was something I looked forward to.
I would spend probably an hour most days trawling jobs websites, but I was planning for this to be a two year plan i.e. get my MA and then get out. However, that was not to be because about 12 months later I saw my ideal job advertised. I had applied for a few jobs before, had got interviews, but nothing had stuck. Suddenly I was looking at a job that not only I thought I could do, but that I really wanted to do! I had always planned to go into the corporate world, but this job was basically public sector, albeit NATO based. I applied and I got it. I left the police and I never looked back. I spent nearly two years there which was fantastic. I worked shifts, but the shift pattern was easy compared to the many and various shift patterns the police had subjected me to over the years. Early on in my time there my boss apologised for having to vary my shifts at short notice, full of trepidation I asked when? He told me two months from now! Certainly not the “short notice” I was used to in the police.
So where am I now? Well, I am in the corporate world and loving it. I work normal hours (for the first time in my life) and my work/life balance has improved immeasurably. I would not have got my current role had I not completed my MA and I would not have got it if I had not been able to evidence team leadership and multi-national working from my time at NATO. I earn far more money than I did as a Constable in the Met and I still have my generous preserved pension benefits to look forward to when I turn 60.
So what would I say to people thinking of getting out?
- Education and training is important. Courses, be they academic or vocational, do open doors
- Have a plan, but don’t turn down good opportunities when they come along because they don’t seem to fit your plan
- Keep applying for stuff – the experience does you good
- Tailor your CV for each position you apply for
- Refer to yourself as a “Police Officer” on your CV and Linkedin profiles so as to avoid people dismissing you as “just a Constable”
- Networking is useful
- When being interviewed never ever say “I’m leaving the Police because I cannot stand it anymore!” (Even if this is how you feel!)
Good luck, stay positive and stay focused. The grass (can be) greener on the other side and it certainly has been in my experience
Benjamin Hodges – Police into Private Sector member