Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Professional Development (or my most frequently asked question).

I am making this post in only week three of the blog because I really want everyone out there who is pursuing a career in law enforcement to be mindful of and begin their professional development now. I often get asked the same question by friends, or friends of friends at all different stages, whether they have not yet begun testing, are in testing or have already applied to a service only to receive a deferral letter, no call back at all! The question I get asked all the time: "What does it take to get called in for an interview?" Thats right, just getting called in for an interview can be a challenge when your application and resume are amongst thousands of other applicants. I can only speak from my experience and those related to me by friends where I know the facts remain intact. So, what does it take? I tell everyone the same thing about applying, it’s not just meeting standard on your test scores but being the whole package. Throughout the process of getting you're certificate of results, you're used to or at least will get used to only meeting standard, if you score better than standard, you don't get a mark to reflect so really all you need to do is just pull your own weight but this isn't right for any other aspect of the Constable Selection System. Although police services are trying to fill their numbers of recruits, the process is highly competitive. My police recruiter told me that most applicants feel they are entitled to a position with the service, this just isn’t so and, an attitude like that surely won't get you far in the process.

Professional development is easily attainable and should include night school or continuing education classes if you have been out of school for more than two years. Ask your employer, they may cover the cost of some classes if it’s related to your industry. I recommend attendance based classes for full-time employed people, it means no tests and few assignments, just show up, be a part of the class! This also could mean getting your Grade 12 diploma if you don’t have it, if you don’t have it, ask your current employer, they may be willing to subsidise the cost. Most community colleges have programs aimed at adult learning and obtaining your grade 12 equivalency. At the time of applying I had been working for two years at the same job and had not been in school for three years. I applied myself to two attendance based night school classes. They were thirty hours in total each, once a week each, for ten weeks. My classes both ran from six thirty until nine thirty. The fortunate thing with night school classes is they realize your brain is ready to shut down by nine and they typically let you out early!

Just those two classes did it for me, I fulfilled my portion of the commitment to continuous education, it is a developmental competency after all! If you’re not available on weekdays there are daytime continuing education courses and weekend classes available as well. Don't feel intimated by going back to school, the continuing education teachers are trained to work with adult learners and in my experience have a lot of respect for people taking the intitiative to better themselves. Also, don’t underestimate the value of a second language class. For those people who are efficient and like to kill two birds with one stone, I would recommend any second language classes as you’re demonstrating your commitment to continuous education and also developing a second language which is very valuable on your application and could result in you getting an interview sooner.

If all of the above fails in motivating you to get signed up with a continuing education class, I have one last piece of information that should speak volumes. In the future when it comes time to have your behavioural interview, you can only draw on experiences from work, education and volunteering; These experiences must be within the last two years. If you're mindful of the competencies, you know you need as much ammunition as possible, taking a continuing education class will surely give you more experiences, especially recent ones to draw from.

Professional development also includes your Standard First Aid certificate and CPR level “C”. Yes, this is a requirement of police services so, take advantage of the discount offered by Rescue Seven to members. Again, your employer may pay for part of the First Aid or CPR certification.

Lastly, go to the website, call the recruiting branch of the police service that you plan on applying to. Research if they have any specific requirement for the position of Police Constable. You can learn a lot from their recruiting web pages and get guidance from recruiters about how to make your resume/application as strong as possible for their specific recruitment. It could even be skills that you will be tested on that you had no idea would be necessary to be hired. I mean it, it happened to me! Be proactive, find out what you need to do to be as competitive in this process as possible. In doing so you may develop a relationship with your recruiter, they may offer mentoring services, privately, one on one in their office at the recruiting branch and, most importantly you could also be developing some of those competencies when it comes to interview time.

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