Ex-police jobs: What are the options for officers leaving the police force?
Leaving the police can be a hugely stressful time, no matter how long you've been with the force. Whether you've decided the work isn't right for you and are looking to move on after just a few years, or you've served for three decades or more but aren't ready to retire completely just yet, taking the next step can be a daunting prospect.
Many former police officers may find themselves struggling with a lack of direction upon re-entering the civilian workforce. Especially if it's been a while since they were in the job market, knowing what roles they would be best-suited for and which industries are on the lookout for talent can be tricky.
Moving away from a role in law enforcement represents a major career change for most people, and the transition can be a bit of a culture shock, similar to that experienced by those exiting the military. But while there is a government-run assistance programme for those leaving the armed forces in the form of the Career Transition Partnership (CTP), there is no such help available for police officers.
At SecurityClearedJobs, however, we have long expertise in helping ex-police officers move into a new career. Through our Police Resettlement EXPO, which was created in order to offer similar help and advice as the CTP to people leaving the police service, we know exactly what employers are looking for and how to connect them with the right former officers.
Types of jobs for ex-police officers
The types of job available for former police officers can vary greatly, so there are plentiful opportunities to advance in a new career that you're passionate about. Whether or not you end up directly using the skills and experiences you picked up as a criminal investigator, the integrity and trustworthiness that comes with your position will be highly valuable to many employers.
What jobs do police officers typically do after leaving the police?
There's no typical career path for ex-police officers, but there are essentially three main options that you should consider if you're leaving life in uniform. Some transition into the private sector, while others continue in public service, either by continuing to work closely with the police in a civilian role, or in other areas such as central government.
The opportunities offered by the private sector are almost endless, but ex-police officers may be especially well-suited to companies that work with sensitive materials or maintain close relations with public sector organisations such as the government or military. These businesses often require their employees to hold strict security clearances that demand integrity, so as a former officer, you may well have a headstart on other applicants.
For those that do want to remain close to the policing positions they've held, agencies that work closely with the police include direct law enforcement bodies such as the National Crime Agency or Border Force and central government departments like the Home Office or HM Revenue and Customs.
Why do many police officers pursue second careers?
Retired police officers are still often relatively young, even if they have a long and distinguished record of service. As such, many aren't ready to settle down into retirement and collect a pension just yet, but they do possess a wealth of skills and experiences that make them very valuable to employers.
Many former police officers are also keen to take on new challenges, improve their prospects for higher earnings or promotions, or just find a career that offers greater flexibility or fits their work-life balance better. But whatever your reasons for seeking something new, taking the plunge can be a tough, but exciting prospect.
How do you transition from the police into the private sector successfully?
Moving into the private sector is often a highly attractive option, especially because of the potential for higher salaries. However, the transition from the highly rigid structure of a police department to the business world can present a steep learning curve.
To do this successfully, you'll need to embrace change and be prepared to learn new things. Skills such as professional networking will be essential to this, especially if you're looking to set yourself up as a contractor.
Do your homework about the industry and roles you're considering and be ready to adapt. The corporate world is more agile and fast-moving than life in the police, and if you aren't prepared for this, you'll struggle to progress in your new career.
Transferable skills an ex-police officer can bring to a job
Over your career in policing, you'll have developed a wide range of experiences that will prove highly valuable to other employers in both the private and public sector. These skills and traits will help you find a new position and stand out from other applicants without your background, but also enable you to excel going forward, whatever role you decide is right for you.
How might your career progress as a former police officer?
A good way to progress your career is by looking for roles that require high levels of security clearance. If you already hold one or more clearances from your time in the police, this can be a significant advantage, but even if you don't, the standards of integrity and trustworthiness demanded of police personnel mean you're likely to be approved for any such clearances, giving potential employers more peace of mind.
These clearances offer you access to a large range of exciting and lucrative roles in many industries, and can quickly enable you to climb the career ladder and take advantage of opportunities that may not have been available to you in the force.
What are examples of transferable skills held by police officers?
There are a wide variety of skills you'll have developed over the years that will lend themselves well to many jobs when leaving the police, and not all of them may be the obvious ones you'd expect recruiters to be interested in.
For example, while specialist detective talents such as investigative skills, problem solving, research and the ability to analyse data for patterns or anomalies will be highly useful in a range of jobs, they are far from the only policing skills that can be easily transferred to other areas.
The ability to communicate and engage directly and professionally with the public, for example, is a much rarer skill than you might think, yet it's essential to being a successful police officer and comes up again and again across multiple different sectors.
Other skills that will stand you in good stead whatever sector you enter next include:
- Collaboration and teamwork
- Determination and resilience
- The ability to work under pressure
- The ability to multitask
What should you put on your CV as a former police officer?
It's important to ensure you're highlighting these skills effectively though. While many employers will recognise the benefits of hiring retired police officers, others may need a bit of help to understand the unique opportunities they can offer to their business.
Highlight the parts of your job that will be directly transferable, and make sure you don't get too focused on the details of specific duties or use jargon. This language may be second nature to you, but recruiters are likely to be unfamiliar with things like police acronyms.
Be especially sure to highlight any particular achievements, such as promotions or investigations you played a leading role in - these tell employers how you personally make a difference.
Also, don't forget to tailor your CV to the position you're applying for. For example, if you're looking for a role in personal protection, emphasise your knowledge of law enforcement procedures, whereas focusing on your investigation skills is useful if you're looking at intelligence or fraud analysis roles.
How to find companies looking for ex-police officers
Finding employers for ex-police roles may seem like a challenge. Unlike when leaving the military, there's no formal version of the Armed Forces Covenant that employers can sign up to in order to demonstrate their commitment to supporting these personnel.
However, turning to online resources that specialise in jobs for ex-police service personnel and attending job fairs such as SecurityClearedJobs' Police Resettlement EXPO can greatly help connect newly-retired police officers with companies who are keen to find these individuals.
What are some possible career paths for former police officers and criminal investigators?
If you're looking to make the most of your technical skills, career paths that are particularly useful for ex-police staff may include:
- Civilian investigators
- Crime analysts
- Support and outreach workers
- Digital forensics examiners
- Security consultants
However, you shouldn't feel limited to only those roles that align closely with the activities you performed as a serving police officer. Any roles that require skills such as attention to detail, perseverance or working with the public will offer great opportunities for professional policing leavers.
For example, another increasingly popular option is to retrain in an area such as cyber security. These roles are in especially high demand at the moment, and there is a significant shortage of people with the right skills.
Many of the skills you already have will have a lot of overlap with those needed to succeed in this sector, so even if you don't have an especially technical background, you may like to consider this as a way of turning your talents to a new area.
Which industries hire former police officers?
There are many sectors that are keen to take on former police personnel, especially for roles in areas such as fraud investigations and cyber security. Sectors that are especially eager to hire people with police backgrounds include:
- Private security
If you're got a long service record with no history of misconduct, you'll also be in an excellent position to obtain any security clearances that these sectors may require, which can also make you more attractive to potential employers.
Where can ex-police officers look online to find job opportunities?
Using a specialised job board with a strong track record of assisting people leaving the uniformed services is a great way to find roles that are well-suited to the experiences you've picked up in the police. Signing up to receive a job alert when suitable roles come up is also a great way to find a position.
Employers trust that the potential candidates they find using these sites will not only offer the skills they need, but also have a high level of integrity and dependability. This means the positions you can find on sites such as SecurityClearedJobs.com are often especially suited to ex-police personnel.
You should also consider attending dedicated job fairs or recruitment expos that are tailored specifically to these personnel. Again, this is a great way to connect directly with organisations that recognise the value these individuals provide, while you can also get great advice on how to successfully make the transition to civilian jobs, from what to include on your resumé to the best interview techniques.
The next steps
SecurityClearedJobs.com is the largest job board in the UK that caters for vacancies with a level of security clearance. Candidates can upload a copy of their CV to the site and register to receive alerts for relevant jobs.
However, it's important to understand clearly what your next steps are, especially if you have been with the police for many years. Selection processes for many positions may be very different from what you're used to, so be prepared to adjust your plans and expectations accordingly.
For instance, having a strong, well-written CV is a must, but don't be tempted to overdo it. It can be easy for experienced officers to go into great detail about their careers and achievements, but this is not what many hiring managers are looking for. Keep it as concise as possible and tailored to the skills and experience the individual employer is looking for - there'll be opportunities to expand on this at the interview stage.
It pays to plan ahead and have a clear idea of what you want to do before you leave the police services. What sector or type of work most appeals to you? Are you looking for shift work or something more fixed? How can you make the best use of your acquired skills and security clearances?
Making sure you have the answers to these questions as early as possible will stand you in good stead for the next step in your career, whatever that may be.
Security Cleared Jobs is pleased to be partnering with Blue Light Leavers as a company that can provide valuable assistance to those looking to leave the Police Service.
After serving for 30 years in mainly frontline operational roles as a PC and Sergeant, as he approached the end of his service aged 48, Andy Labrum, the founder of Blue Light Leavers, was really unsettled and worried about life after policing as this was all he’d known. He successfully transitioned to a new role as a Project Manager, later went freelance as Lead IT Business Change Manager and became the Platform Lead for Modern Workplace Technology for ASOS. He is now an IT Consultant, having worked alongside the likes of Microsoft, Oracle, PwC, EY, Afiniti and others, worked in national infrastructure, local Government, the Public and Private Sector.
Hearing he'd successfully transitioned to a new career, Andy was approached by friends and ex-colleagues who needed guidance and support moving into new careers, mid-service and on retirement and due to his success in helping them successfully apply for and understand how to translate their skills and experience to new roles, word of mouth referrals led to more and more enquiries and Blue Light Leavers was created to support and guide on a much larger scale, and now has members from the UK, Ireland, North America, Australia and more. Andy delivers support and guidance, from free clarity calls to CV and cover letter guidance, in-person and online transition courses, interview prep, 1-2-1 bespoke career mentoring and has a podcast audience across 64 countries.
Unlike other post-policing 'resettlement experts', Andy is still in full-time employment in the corporate world, interviews regularly for roles and interviews others and understands exactly what you are up against in today's job market.’
Learn more at www.BlueLightLeavers.com