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Moving ahead in your probation career

By Gemma Raw

​Recently it was announced that the government will be re-nationalising offender supervision programmes from December 2020. Although many details are still to be confirmed, this could be an opportunity for some probation officers to further their careers, as these changes will undoubtedly lead to the creation of new senior or managerial positions. As specialist recruiters of POs and PSOs, we’re still waiting for clarification of how the new changes will impact upon recruitment, and we promise that we’ll share the information with you as soon as we have it. But in the meantime, if you are keen to move ahead in your probation career, then it’s wise to review your CV and ensure that you’re highlighting the most appropriate skills.

Here is our advice on how to use your CV to further your probation career:

Demonstrate your career progression

As probation officers, you’ll likely have experienced continual career development throughout your career as you progress through the banding system. As your CV is the first point of contact for any prospective employer, you’ll need to demonstrate how your career has developed and what skills you have learnt. 

Make sure that you highlight any specific training workshops that you’ve participated in. If possible, try to explain what you learned from each course and how you’ve put that knowledge into practice. 

If you’re interested in moving away from working with offenders into a more managerial role, you may wish to undertake a PRINCE2 project management qualification. This will show that you have the skills and knowledge to manage a team and could differentiate yourself from other candidates. 

Showcase your work with multi-disciplinary teams

Those working in senior probation roles will find that they spend a lot of their time working across multi-disciplinary teams. For instance, you may find yourself attending different committees or sub-groups to represent your probation service. 

When you’re applying for managerial positions, take the time to showcase any work that you’ve done with multi-disciplinary teams – for example, you may have built close working relationships with youth offending teams as people transition into the adult probation system. Your work with external teams will likely be a topic of interest in any interviews, so try to think about situations where you’ve been able to successfully work together with others to achieve positive outcomes. 

Highlight your knowledge and passion for probation

Great probation managers and senior probation officers have a strong passion for what they do. They continually take the time to update their skills, read the latest research and discover new practice models. You can use your CV to highlight how you’ve tackled repeat offending and what you’ve learnt from other colleagues. We know that this could conflict with our previous guidance on how to cut down a lengthy probation CV, but it’s important to use your CV as an opportunity to showcase your knowledge to any prospective hiring panels. 

If you’re keen to move into a managerial role, an important task is to share information and guidance with other probation boards or regional groups. You will need to talk confidently about issues in your own area and how you’ve overcome them. This could also be a topic of interest during any interview panels, so consider if you have any situations or scenarios you could discuss with the interviewer. 

Consider your wider skill set

Finally, it's important to think beyond just probation. You may have a variety of skills which are perfect for a managerial role, which goes beyond the traditional scope of a probation officer. We know that many of our probation candidates have a colourful career history. Perhaps you previously trained as a social worker, or maybe you’ve experience volunteering for a local community organisation where you were responsible for overseeing budgets. 

Think about what skills you have and consider how they could apply to a senior position. Use your personal profile to explain more about who you are as a person and describe what makes you such a strong candidate for the job role. 

We have written a series of blogs around navigating your probation career. There are also a number of useful resources on our careers hub.