Scj Blog 1000x800px Probation

Making the most of your experience

By Liam Dale

You may have read our blog which explored how you can move into a probation career via a probation service officer job role. This is an entry-level position which allows new recruits to join the sector in permanent positions, even if they don’t have any specific experience.

The great thing about probation service officer job roles is that you can use transferrable skills to boost your CV and maximise your chances of switching careers. For example, if you’ve any experience (paid for or voluntary) within mental health initiatives, the housing sector, youth offending or perhaps a jobs centre, then you could be a highly sought-after candidate.

Highlight any relevant experience

If you’re new to the probation sector, then you are unlikely to have any prior experience to showcase on your CV. This is why you need to make the most of your existing professional experience to highlight the skills required to make a great officer.

Your experience can be in paid positions – perhaps you’ve worked within a care setting, the housing sector, or volunteered for a community organisation/charitable initiative which supports vulnerable people. If so, this is what you need to focus on within your CV.

The National Probation Service is clear that they are looking for candidates who are “empathetic, patient and resilient”. Training is available on the job, which is why the focus is upon finding people who demonstrate these qualities.

A key part of the role is helping offenders to rehabilitate their lives – you may be required to provide practical advice about day-to-day living or simply be there as an advocate for that person. Therefore, we would suggest that you draw out examples of when you’ve met these responsibilities. Perhaps you’re experienced in writing risk assessments, or maybe you’ve previously worked in a role which works alongside multiple agencies.

Don’t forget your transferrable skills

As well as demonstrating clear examples of prior experience, you can use your CV to focus upon your transferrable skills. These are skills which you can take from your existing experience and utilise in a new way or in a new sector.

For a probation service officer job role, you may want to draw attention to your writing and communication skills. A core part of the job description is being able to write reports to strict deadlines. If you’re an excellent listener, try to provide demonstrable evidence of when you’ve been able to listen to someone and provide advice for how they can make positive improvements to their life. Or if you’ve continually managed a busy workload, show how you can bring this skill to the probation sector which will almost certainly involve juggling multiple caseloads.

Show your passion for the job role

Ultimately, what will set you apart from other candidates (even those with more experience) will be your ability to show your passion and commitment.

Working within the probation sector can be extremely rewarding because you are directly helping to improve a person’s life, but equally, it can be stressful and frustrating. At times when you may be grappling with depleting resources, multiple caseloads and increasing pressures, it will be your passion that will keep you motivated.

You could use your personal statement to explain exactly what is driving you to join the sector and why you think you would make a fantastic addition to the profession. This will help demonstrate to the hiring panel why they should hire you and explain why you would be an inspiring fit to work with an offender.

If you would like to learn more about working in a probation service officer job role, make sure you look through our careers hub.