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Careers after the police: How to be prepared for a new adventure

Police officers approaching retirement should not be apprehensive for the future, as there are many fantastic opportunities that await you after leaving the service.

Retirement from the police service can be a daunting prospect; it’s an important milestone that marks the end of one phase in your life and the beginning of something altogether new. Change should not be something to fear though, and understanding how to successfully prepare for life after the police can bring you great peace of mind in the run-up to retirement.

Careers expert Angela Hackett from Police into Private Sector (PiPS) is keen to offer up her insight into the many challenges retirees are likely to face and how these issues can be overcome. Angela has extensive experience in guiding officers through the challenging process of retirement and is a regular speaker at Metfriendly Pre-Retirement seminars.

When leaving the service, you will find there are plenty of opportunities to take on new roles, to continue expanding your skills and to set yourself up for an exciting future. With that in mind, here are Angela’s top tips for all those approaching retirement to consider:

Work out how to sell yourself

It may have been years since you had to write a CV and, nowadays, the process of seeking work is very different to how you would have applied for roles in the past – both internally and externally – but it’s nothing you cannot learn how to do. One thing that all officers embarking on a new career should be aware of, however, is the differences inherent to working in the police and in many other industries.

A big fear can be that shouting about one’s achievements and skills could be viewed by colleagues in the police service as someone being arrogant or ‘showing off’; after all, our peers will already be aware of our strengths and weaknesses when applying for new roles or a promotion. That said, job hunting in the wider market is slightly different, and individuals looking for new opportunities will have to break this mindset and really sell themselves, their accomplishments and their skills if they wish to stand out from the crowd.

You have to make sure you can translate your skills and successes to show how they’re relevant to the jobs or industries you’re applying for. Be aware that if you don’t tell people how good you are and how policing skills fit into the private sector, nobody else will do it for you.

As a result, officers entering a new industry should not be afraid to shout about their achievements. It can be a challenge for some retirees to get into this way of thinking, but ultimately, it is for you to reach out, rather than wait for someone to notice you and snap you up for the job of your dreams.

Networking holds the key to success

You may have heard the phrase ‘it’s not what you know, it’s who you know’ in relation to some careers, and when it comes to leaving the police service, this old adage also holds true. It’s not so much ‘the old boy’s club’ aspect of career progression, but having varied contacts that enhances your prospects of success.

So, how should you be effectively networking? This is a challenge that many individuals approaching retirement struggle to comprehend; but today, there are many great ways to begin spreading your message. Get signed up to LinkedIn and make sure your profile is linked to as many people as possible. Invite family, friends, colleagues, even acquaintances you’ve met down the pub – the point is to spread your network as far as possible and to start building connections to other industries.

Remember that you are looking to diversify and add something new through people already established in other sectors. After this, connect with people who you share other LinkedIn groups with. Groups are a great way to learn all about the new sectors you are interested in – what are they talking about? What do the terms they use mean? Almost by osmosis, you will start to understand new industries and that will potentially be invaluable at interview.

Indeed, PiPS operates its very own LinkedIn group that officers approaching retirement might wish to join. Here, we can help to bring together serving and retired officers to help build those relationships and connections that will stand them in the best stead to follow their dreams after they retire.

Be prepared for a period of transition

One of the key takeaways that we’d like all retiring officers to take with them from this article is the fact that moving into a new career after leaving the police service will almost certainly require a period of adjustment, but this is not something to fear.

You may have a time of feeling isolated and unsure about your future, but in reality, this is normal and something that happens to a lot of retirees. Be assured that this feeling will pass and instead focus on the opportunities you now have to explore other interests in your life outside of policing. The world truly is your oyster and with the backup of your police pension to give you financial stability, there are many new avenues you should be confident about exploring.

Understand that you have nothing to prove and that this change in lifestyle can be a stepping stone to even greater things. Many employers will be keen to make use of the undoubted skills that you’ve honed throughout your years in the police service and it’s simply a matter of finding the right new opportunity for you. What’s more, if you are worried about working for somebody new and would prefer to be your own boss, you might want to consider self-employment as an option to pursue.

What can I do now?

Getting ready to meet the challenges of taking on a new career should be an exciting prospect for all retiring officers. It is a chance to try new things, to expand your skills, meet new people and enter into a new chapter in your life.

As a result, preparation should play a key role in making this transition as smooth as possible, and one way to achieve this is to begin narrowing down the areas you are interested in post-retirement. In addition, you should be open-minded – remember that you don’t have to do what others have done and can follow your own path.

Finally, begin making the effort to get your name out there. There really is no time like the present to start networking for the future and getting your affairs in order, like your CV and social media presence. You never know when that perfect opportunity will come along, so it always pays to be prepared.

So, if we’ve whet your appetite to find out more about the opportunities that await you after leaving the police, why not sign up to attend one of our pre-retirement courses to find out more?

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