How to Write a CV When Leaving the Police
In this episode of the Blue Light Leavers Podcast and Blog, Andy Labrum speaks with HR and professional CV writing specialist, Charlotte Eve. Charlotte has written many CVs for Police Officers in all ranks across the globe, including members of the Blue Light Leavers private Facebook group.
Charlotte’s knowledge of how to list achievements on CVs, how to structure your CV and how to tailor your CV to the job description, will genuinely help you land interviews. Listen to the full podcast episode here. Are you considering a new career path after being in the police force? Gain knowledge from Charlotte on how to write a CV when you've a background in Policing or the Emergency Services.
Leaving the Police
If you’re a Police Officer, Law Enforcement or other Emergency Services professional considering leaving, then the Blue Light Leavers Podcast is for you! Every episode, I bring you interviews with subject matter experts like CV writers, recruiters, business coaches, senior executives and more plus interviews with cops who have successfully transitioned to new roles. We’ll discuss why and how they did it, their fears, how they overcame them, lessons learned and what life is like outside of the Service. I’m your host Andy Labrum, welcome to The Blue Light Leavers Podcast and Blog.
How to Build an Absolutely Outstanding CV
Charlotte Eve has over 20 years experience of writing CVs for police officers. According to Charlotte, nowadays a CV needs to be absolutely outstanding to get noticed. A CV also has to be achievement lead and CVs that list achievements are 70% more likely to get an interview. CVs that are duties led, (meaning they list responsibilities), only around 20% get interviewed.
Charlotte is located in Brighton, UK and is an HR and CV writing specialist. Whilst working in the corporate sector, she would look at hundreds of CVs and that’s when she realised the importance of a good CV to stand out and realised that people really could benefit from help. Back in 1999, she put an ad in the paper and the phone did not stop ringing.
At that time, no one was professionally writing CVs, and her business took off from there. Her principle reason for starting CK Futures was to help people who were vulnerable in the job market, (long term unemployed, parents returning from maternity and paternity leave and redundancy) and could really benefit most from having a CV.
Why is a Well Written CV so Important?
Most people can write their own CV, but people find it hard to write about themselves because they are too close to the subject. It’s important to have a well written CV, particularly over the last 5 to 10 years as so much has changed in the job market.
Back then, if you wanted to apply for a job, you’d look in the newspaper, however, that’s not the way we look for positions nowadays. You now apply for jobs online, which means more people are applying for jobs. Some positions just require a click, so there’s many more CVs are being received by employers.
How to Write a CV when Leaving the Police: Add Keywords in your CV
Nowadays, companies put CVs through something called Applicant Tracking System (ATS) software, so the CV goes through a system using algorithms before it’s even seen by a human. When writing a CV, specific keywords relating to the role, must be evidenced within the CV and it's not always obvious what these keywords are. Most people don’t realise this, especially Police leaving the force.
No employer will actually tell you what the keywords are, so you have to look at the job description and pick up on them, and then reflect those keywords into your CV.
How to Structure a CV when Leaving the Police
According to Charlotte, simple CVs work better than flashy ones. Presentation matters, but the content is what is important. It’s the words that will get you through the door. Charlotte also advises to do your wording first, then worry about the presentation.
When constructing a CV after leaving the Service, there are no rules regarding whether written in the 1st person or 3rd person. However, both Charlotte and Andy prefer first person CVs as its more personal and catchy but really, it depends on what the client is looking for. First person is more interesting, authentic, easier to write and much more enjoyable to read.
The first couple of sections of your CV are important. Under your name, Charlotte recommends putting a tagline that mirrors the job you're applying for. For example, if you're applying for an investigator role, you’d write 'experienced investigator' under your name, so right away the employer sees what they are looking for.
After leaving the Police, it’s important to get across who you are, what you offer and what you’re good at. Right away in that opening statement, the employer gets to learn important things about you.
Importantly, Charlotte advises to avoid cliches, like 'good communicator and team player.' Think about language that isn’t commonly used so it’s a more interesting read.
Skills and Key Achievements: What to Include in your CV when Leaving the Police
Achievements are the most important thing on a resume. It's been proven that CVs that are achievement lead are 70% more likely to be chosen for interview. It’s common sense, but it’s massively overlooked. Human nature makes it hard to take pride in what we’ve done. Especially, if you live in the moment, you might have forgotten things, but writing a CV requires you to really think about what you've done.
If thinking about achievements is too difficult for you, ask yourself, “How did I make a difference?” Or when you started in the role, what improvements did you bring? This is what employers want to know.
Police Officers have a hard time talking about their achievements, however, when you ask about what they're proud of, it can be easier to tie down their achievements. So if you're looking to write your own CV ask yourself, What were you most proud of? How did you make a difference?
Bullet points are Essential When Describing Particular Roles
Bullet points are a must when writing a good CV. It makes reading the CV so much easier for the reader, especially if it’s a two page CV.
Look at the whole career as a whole. You don't have to go all the way back. Charlotte recommends starting with the job title. Include a little sentence that gives context to what the purpose of the job was. Under that, a subheading of key achievements and selected highlights then add the most interesting bits. Three to five achievements per role is sufficient.
How to Write a CV when Leaving the Police : Avoid Listing Duties
Don't put duties, that’s not what's going to get you through the door. Employers want to know how you made a difference!
Identifying your Soft Skills when Leaving the Police
It’s important to let your personality shine through the CV and Charlotte always includes soft skills on the first page.
Examples of these skills include the ability to collaborate and work effectively with others, the ability to influence others, innovative and creative thinking, resilience and adaptability, particularly with regards to dealing with change and also the ability to self-reflect, learn lessons and adapt to challenges.
Relationship (also known as stakeholder) management, is a key soft skill that police officers have but is regularly overlooked. The key is adding examples on the first page of how you've used these soft skill. Talking through some examples and evidencing your achievements is what will get you through the door.
How to Write a CV when Leaving the Police? Avoid Abbreviations!
Charlotte loves writing CVs for Police Officers. It’s quite unique. Police officers that have been in the organisation for years struggle to strip away the jargon and ultimately, your potential future employer just won’t understand. You must change the wording to get the message across.
Avoid abbreviations! According to Charlotte, you must try and 'de-police' your CV a little and avoid jargon. There is often a lot of stuff in there that people outside of the Emergency Services won't understand.
Match Words in Your CV to the Job Description
CVs go through an Applicant Tracking System software to screen for keywords, so, specific keywords need to be in your CV if you even want it seen by a human being.
It’s very important to tailor the CV and cover letter to the job. This way it shows you responded to the criteria and you deserve a second look. It’s not hard to do, either. A few hours working on your CV can make a significant difference.
When applying for new roles, you can't use one CV for every job. It’s obvious you've not put the effort in to evidence the key skills and you won't get to interview.
Most people send off CVs without tailoring them, so stand out and put more effort in than most. It shows employers that you care and are excited about the position.
Another tip Charlotte provides is, use the phone number on the job listing, not a lot of people do that. Consider calling the point of contact and ask genuine and meaningful questions. You're standing out from the crowd and the person you've spoken to is more likely to look out for your CV.
The Power of LinkedIn after Leaving the Police
Link up your CV with your LinkedIn profile but don't copy and paste. Yes, you need content that matches your CV but not word for word. You do need a LinkedIn profile if you are serious about job searching. The person who is interviewing you will look you up on LinkedIn. If you're not there or your LinkedIn profile is sketchy, it can be a problem. Put meaningful and engaging posts on your LinkedIn profile to show you're engaged in the community.
Final key hints and tips for How to Write a CV when Leaving the Police
You can only have a stand out CV if you have good material. Give yourself time to think about things you're proud of. You’ll need it for the CV and the interview too. Invest time in thinking about key information and put the effort in.
Make sure your CV is targeted to the key words.
Think about jobs you're interested in. Think about the types of roles you might enjoy. Do you see yourself in an office setting or out and about? Do you prefer working alone or with a team?
Write in a clear and easy to understand language. Avoid cliché soft skill descriptions.
Be sure to review your CV and ask someone else to read it. It’s easier for someone else to spot mistakes and add things you didn't think about. Avoid having a friend or family member review your CV but maybe ask a colleague. A colleague knows you from a work perspective and will be much more honest.
If you're considering leaving the Police, or retired or close to and you're struggling to put your CV together, what’s the best way to get in touch with Charlotte?
Charlotte has kindly offered her advice and support if you have any queries or questions. She can be contacted via [email protected] and please put ‘Blue Light Leavers’ in the subject line of your email. Charlotte’s website is www.ckfutures.co.uk and she has loads of advice and free resources available.