Using the right language on your CV
How can you ensure that your CV makes an impact? How do you get the balance between keeping things concise and being vague? This is where the choice of language comes into play. We’re not talking about being multilingual - although if you are, mention it on your CV! - we’re talking about moving away from clichés and freshening things up. The hiring manager has heard the phrases “great team player”, “hard worker” and “self-motivated” a hundred times before and whilst these things are important to mention, you should start making the most of action verbs within your descriptions. These are words which demonstrate your confidence and can easily be expanded upon during an interview scenario. “Action verbs are used to deliver important information in a sentence and add impact and purpose. These verbs play a vital role in grammar and signals to the reader what action the subject is performing in the sentence”- Source: YourDictionary.com. Making the most of action wordsLet’s look at some common examples and see how we can improve them through the inclusion of action verbs.Before: “Held regular planning meetings with multi-agency teams to reduce re-offending”After: “Established and supervised regular planning meetings with multi-agency teams to reduce reoffending”.The difference is clear. Simply using the addition of the words ‘established’ and ‘supervised’, the same sentence suddenly seems much more powerful and enhances the specific impact. Here’s another example. Before: “Worked with multidisciplinary staff and developed a specialist practice-based clinical model of care” After: “Championed strong working relationships with multidisciplinary staff and implemented a specialist practice-based clinical model of care” Again, the use of two action words really grabs your attention and makes you sound more confident and experienced.If you need help to improve your CV, then please get in touch with one of Sanctuary’s dedicated recruitment consultants.
Handling tricky career moments
We all dream of having a flawless CV; one which shows our career trajectory and highlights our expertise and knowledge. But whilst some lucky people have a career which is plain-sailing, others may find that they have had some ups and downs which could cast a shadow on their professional expertise. If you’re looking for your next criminal justice job role, then it may be wise to consider how your CV looks to potential hiring managers. You may know that you have the capability to handle the job role, but there may be some skeletons lurking in your career wardrobe which could cause doubt. Long periods of unemployment, health-related issues or even tricky moments from your past could be enough to prevent you from making the most of your opportunities.So, how can you handle these moments and present yourself as an ideal candidate for the job role? Let’s take a look…Always be truthfulHonesty is always the best policy when it comes to recruitment practices. Whether you were let go from a previous job role or you had an issue with a professional body, it’s always wise to be up-front with recruiters about what the situation was, and what you have learnt from it.In professions such as youth offending or probation, it’s not uncommon to find practitioners who may have been inspired to train as probation officers or substance misuse workers following their own personal experiences. If this is something that you have lived through, then rather than hiding away from your past, use it as a strength. Use your CV or your interview to demonstrate how your personal experience has guided your career; show how you’ve overcome any difficulties and how it makes you a stronger practitioner. In relation to your CV, make sure that everything is 100% accurate.Factual data such as employment dates or qualifications are easily identifiable so it’s imperative that you tell the truth. If a hiring manager undertakes basic checks and discovers that you’re not being honest, then you’ll quickly find yourself looking for a new opportunity.Explaining long career gaps doesn’t need to be difficultIf you’ve taken a long career gap (six months or more) then you may feel under pressure to explain your reasons. Regardless of whether it was a result of unemployment, health-related issues or even simply time off to recharge your batteries, it’s much more common than you may think. Making simple formatting changes can sometimes be enough to help you focus on your strengths whilst still remaining honest and truthful.If you are asked by any hiring managers about any career gaps, then the most important thing you can do is to show how you’ve kept your skills up to date during your break. If you’re working in a job role where professional registration is required (such as offender healthcare) then you may need to check with your professional body what the requirements are.For example, the Nursing and Midwifery Council have published strong guidance on how to return to practice following a career break.If you’ve used your time away to focus on voluntary work, then use your CV and/or your interview to explain how your new skills/experience are applicable to the workplace. You may be amazed to discover how transferable some skills are!Think about what you are saying and how you say itIf you’re in an interview, and you’re questioned about a time where you struggled with a co-worker, or you’re asked to explain why your contract was terminated by a previous employer it can be a natural reaction to go on the defensive. You may find old emotions are stirred up or you may struggle to hide your feelings. In an interview situation, this could be a huge turn-off for any prospective employers. If you know that you have a past moment which is likely to be discussed in an interview situation, practice what you want to say. You may find that your Sanctuary consultant is best placed to help you. After all, they can suggest how to explain certain career moments or practice some interview questions with you to help you with your nerves. Practicing what you want to say, and how you want to say it, can help you feel much more confident when answering tricky questions. If you have a delicate matter within your career history and you’re unsure how to address this on your CV or ahead of an interview, please make sure you speak with your Sanctuary consultant. We can work closely with you to find the most appropriate ways to share tricky moments, whilst simultaneously highlighting your strengths. If you need any advice or guidance, please make sure you give us a call.
Moving ahead in your probation career
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 progressionAs 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 teamsThose 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 probationGreat 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 setFinally, 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. If you need support writing your CV for your next probation job role, get in touch with your Sanctuary consultant. They’ll be able to help you adapt your CV, giving you the greatest chance of success.
Leaving your offender healthcare job amicably
Leaving a job role can be an emotional time. Whether you’ve worked there for years or you’ve been employed on a short-term contract, it’s important that you part ways with your employer and your colleagues amicably.Offender healthcare is a niche-role; after all, you not only need to have your nursing qualifications but you also need to have different security clearances enabling you to work in a secure setting. Therefore, we would always recommend parting ways amicably when leaving an offender healthcare job role – after all, you never know when you may work alongside previous colleagues in a different environment. If you’re used to working on short-term contracts then you may find that moving on harmoniously is easy to do; after all, you know from the outset that you’re only going to be working there for a specified amount of time. But if you work in a permanent job role, moving on can be much harder. To make the process much easier for everyone involved, we’re sharing our advice regarding how to leave your current job role amicably. Resign in personNo one ever enjoys handing in their notice. Even if you’ve been unhappy at work, you’ll undoubtedly feel nerves as you ask to speak to your line manager. But as easy as it may be to simply send a swift email, you should always resign in person. It’s an opportunity to explain to your manager why you’ve chosen to move on and to show any thanks/appreciation for the opportunities that you’ve experienced. Offering a formal resignation in person will show much character, and how you handle this can play a big part in how effective your notice period can be. If you are planning to resign, it’s important that the first person you tell should be your line manager. It may be easy to share the news with a trusted colleague, but if the news leaks before you have a chance to speak directly, it could make you look unprofessional or untrustworthy. Give as much notice as you canWhen an employee resigns, it can be extremely difficult for an employer to find an immediate replacement. Not only will they need to find a nurse with the same skill set, but within the offender healthcare profession, there is also the added challenge of finding a candidate with the right security clearances. In order to ensure that you have an amicable departure, you may wish to try and provide as much notice as you can. Your contract with stipulate what your notice period is. For some people, it could be as little as two weeks; for others, it could be much longer. The RCN has some published some great information which helps you to understand your contractual rights when working during your notice period. Have a clear handover with colleaguesLeaving your employer amicably isn’t just about parting on good terms with your managers. It’s also about parting on good terms with your co-workers. We’ve mentioned above that you never know when you could work alongside a former colleague, so it’s always wise to avoid burning any bridges where possible. An easy way to ensure that your former colleagues think highly of you is to ensure that you have a full handover with them on your last day. This could be about updating them on a patient’s prognosis or helping them to understand what specific medical attention an individual may need. It’s also about ensuring that all administration tasks have been completed before you leave. The easier the handover process is with your colleagues, the more amicable your departure will be. If you’re ready to resign from your current offender healthcare job role, then you need to ensure that you have a new job lined up. At Sanctuary Criminal Justice, we recruit for a wide range of offender health jobs across the UK. You can find more about our latest vacancies by searching through our jobs page.
Is social media harming your career?
Since the explosion of social media over the past decade, it’s almost impossible to keep your private life private. With the anonymity afforded by the likes of Instagram and Twitter, have you ever considered what your digital footprint is saying about you?If you’re serious about looking for a new job role, whether it’s within the probation sector, a youth offending team or as an offender healthcare nurse, then you may want to take some time to review your social media output. In today’s tech-savvy world, many hiring managers may head to Google to do some further background checks before offering you a job role. Within just a few clicks of a mouse, it can be easy to find out who you are, what you like, what you’re saying and what others are saying about you.So, could this impact your career?In most cases, your online presence is harmless. After all, no one is going to bat an eyelid if you’ve shared a few cat memes. But if your online profiles are showing support for controversial figures or you’re sharing potentially offensive content then an employer may think twice about hiring you. However, if it takes a potential employer just a few minutes to discover your digital footprint, then it should be easy to change a few settings to give yourself more privacy.Have you Googled yourself?The first thing you need to do is to Google yourself. It may seem like an ego-trip, but if you can look online to see what presence you have, you can decide if you need to act before you apply for your new role. More than likely you’ll find that most links do not refer to you (particularly if you have a common name) but it’s worth checking the news pages as well as Google Images for any incriminating photos. The last thing you want is for your potential new boss to see a picture of you with your friends on a night out – it may sound silly, but if you’ve been tagged into an image on an open social media site, it can easily be picked up by Google’s search algorithm. You can use your Google search to your benefit. It will likely pick up your LinkedIn profile, so here’s your chance to double check that your profile is up to date. You may wish to take advantage of the ‘post an article’ function on LinkedIn. If you write articles showcasing your knowledge, then this will also be picked up within the Google search and could look favourably on you by hiring managers.Check your privacy settingsIt may seem obvious but it’s amazing how many people leave their social media profiles completely open for anyone to view. In most instances this may not cause any harm, but your Facebook profile should always be kept as private as possible. It’s not difficult to find out your date of birth, your hometown, and even your mother’s maiden name or your school within just a few clicks. In the wrong hands, this could easily lead to identity theft or even worse! What’s more, if your Facebook profile is open, a potential recruiter can easily look at your entire profile. They can see your likes and dislikes. Discover your political views and look at every photo you’ve ever uploaded. If that doesn’t sound fun to you, then it’s incredibly easy to adjust your privacy settings on Facebook. All you need to do is click settings > privacy. From here, we would advise that all your settings are set to “friends only”.It’s also worthwhile keeping your Instagram private as well – to do this, click settings > privacy and security > account privacy and click to “private account”. You won’t lose followers, and people will still be able to follow you; you’ll just have to accept them first.Are your profile photos appropriate?The two things that will always remain public will be your profile photos and cover images, regardless of what social platform you are on. Always make sure that you choose an appropriate image. First impressions do count. If a potential hiring manager has seen a photo of you in a compromising position as a profile photo, you may have to work harder than another candidate to win them over. It may seem unfair, but you need to ensure that your public profile portrays the image that you want to project.Remember that social media is a public forumSocial media can be a great way to create a good first impression and it certainly has its benefits. However, it’s important to keep in mind that whilst you may think that you’re anonymous, it’s incredibly easy to identify who you are. Social media is a public forum and should be treated as such – particularly if you wish to be taken seriously within your career.The best advice we can give is to remember to never post anything that you wouldn’t mind your boss or grandparents seeing!
Assessing your own interview performance
Have you ever walked out of an interview room thinking “I’ve nailed that”, only to be surprised to find out a few days later that you were unsuccessful? Here's some tips to ensure that you are reflecting on your interview constructively.Create your own interview notepadWhen you leave the interview room, we suggest that you take a few moments to sit in a nearby coffee shop (or even in your car) to reflect on how the interview went. If you’re a regular interviewee, then we would recommend taking a notepad and pen with you, for the sole purpose of jotting down a few notes post-interview. Perhaps think about what questions you answered well, and which ones you think you may have struggled with. You could write down whether you felt you were prepared enough, or whether you think you were “winging it”. You could also consider giving yourself a rating out of ten, and whether you would have hired yourself.Other questions to ask yourself include:Did I present a professional image?Was I speaking in a calm manner or did I rush my answers?How was my body language?Were there any questions that I struggled to answer?Was I able to adequately provide examples of previous cases?Was I able to sell in my strengths and explain my weaknesses?Did I ask enough questions about the prospective employer?You could consider giving yourself a rating for each question – not only will this enable you to think about whether you are likely to have been successful, but it will help you to visually see any problem areas.Keeping a copy of these notes in your interview notepad will not only help you organise your thoughts, but you can look back on it as a tool to help you prepare for future interviews.If you need any help preparing for an interview, then please give one of our dedicated consultants a call. Not only will they help you understand what the job role is, they’ll be able to share what the hiring manager is looking for and how you can maximise your chance for success.
Pay attention to your body language
If you’re preparing for your next substance misuse worker job interview, it’s imperative that you take a few moments to consider whether your body language is in tune with what you are saying.You may think that you’re impressing the hiring panel – after all, you have the skills and qualifications required for the role. You’re fully prepared for any question and you’ve done your research, so you know what to expect from the potential employer. But are you truly aware of what your body language is telling the hiring panel whilst you are answering their questions? As part of your substance misuse training, you’ll be aware of how to read body language and pick up on subtle hints, but it’s very easy to forget how we use our own bodies. In an interview situation, you need to project yourself as confident yet approachable. Qualified and professional, yet relatable. It’s a difficult mix but it’s something which can be managed with your mannerisms and demeaner. Here are some of our top tips to help you in your next substance misuse interview. Making the most of your confidenceAs you walk into the interview room, you should let your confidence shine through – no matter how nervous you may feel. Greeting the interviewer with a big smile and a hearty handshake will immediately portray a strong and confident image. It’s also important to hold and maintain eye contact. When you’re answering questions, take the time to look at the interviewer and engage them in conversation. It’s a natural reaction to look away, but by maintaining eye contact, you can feel more confident that they are listening to what you are saying.Try to limit distractionsWhen you sit at the desk, make sure that you sit straight in a neutral position. Don’t slump or slough, and do not tap your foot against a table leg. If you do, it could give the impression that you’re not really interested in the job. We would also reiterate not playing with any loose strands of hair (it may be wise to tie it back, out of the way) or if you have a pen, do not tap it or repeatedly click the top. Not only is this distracting for the panel but it could ensure that you lose your own train of thought and distract yourself! As a substance misuse worker, you’ll be more aware than most of how to read body language. These suggestions may seem simple, but sometimes a quick reminder can be worth its weight in gold.
Get ready for your probation officer interview
If you’re a regular reader of our blog pages, then you’ll know that we’re always here to offer you practical support and guidance on how to achieve your perfect probation job role. Regardless of whether it’s your first major job interview or you see interviews as merely an occupational hazard of working as a locum probation officer, job interviews can be nerve-wracking. Not only are they the first opportunity for a potential employer to meet you, but it’s an opportunity for you to really sell yourself to a hiring manager. To ease your nerves ahead of your next job interview, we’re sharing some insights into what preparation you can do. Speak to your Sanctuary ConsultantIf you've applied for one of our many probation roles, the best thing you can do is to speak directly with one of Sanctuary’s dedicated recruitment consultants. Not only will the consultant be able to explain to you exactly what the hiring organisation is looking for, but they’ll be able to work with you to identify your key strengths in relation to the job advert. Your consultant will also be on hand to answer any questions that you may have or ease your nerves before you walk into the interview room. Do your researchAs soon as you are selected for an interview, it’s wise to start researching the company. You will need to be clear about who they are and what they stand for. Your background research will help you answer any questions that you may be asked. As well as looking on the organisation’s website, look at their social media pages and see what they are saying. You may find that they are running some specific projects; in which case, you may want to find out as much information as you can. This research isn’t just about being able to answer their questions, it’s also about creating a list of questions that you can ask them. It’s always important to remember that interviews are an opportunity for potential employers to sell themselves to you, as much as it is the other way around. Hiring managers will be impressed if you have a list of questions to ask them – just make sure that they haven’t already been answered during any other points of the interview! Prepare your answers in advanceOne of the biggest fears surrounding interviews is the ‘fear of the unknown’. Often, we tend to become nervous because we’re not adequately prepared or unsure of what we will be asked. As part of your pre-interview preparation, try to think of what the hiring managers could ask you. Common interview questions for probation job roles include: “Can you provide examples of situations which have demonstrated your ability to work well with others?”, “How do you ensure your personal feelings and views don’t affect your professional judgment when working with serious crime offenders? or “What attributes can you bring to the role?” When answering each question, you’ll need to be able to talk in detail whilst simultaneously remaining as concise as possible (we never said interviews were easy!). Try to think in advance about why you are such a strong match for the job, and where possible, try to reference to terminology that has been specified in the job description. If you know the job advert like the back of your hand, you’ll find it easier to verbalise your answers in reference to what the hiring managers are looking for. Additionally, you can typically expect to be asked several scenario-based questions, so it’s beneficial to think in advance of some situations which you can discuss at length. Try to share the strengths of these circumstances but also think about what you learned from each one, and how you would improve your work in the future. Practice makes perfectIf possible, try to practice answering mock-interview questions. You may feel a little silly, but we promise, it will give you much more confidence during the interview itself. You could ask a friend or family member to act the role of the interviewer, or you could simply film yourself answering questions using your phone. If you are repeatedly stumbling over the same words, take a deep breath and start again. A top tip which is hugely beneficial is to always take a long pause before you answer any questions. Simply taking a second or two and making a concentrated effort to slow your speech down will give you much longer to think about what you want to say, and how you want to say it. Hopefully, you’re now feeling much more confident ahead of your next probation job interview!
Signs you need to take a holiday from your probation job
Working in probation is a stressful job role; there’s no doubt about it. Having the responsibility for supervising offenders as well as providing information to the criminal courts, parole boards and other partner organisations can lead you to feeling tired and burnt out. If you find that you’re starting to feel unmotivated and you’ve lost your passion for helping offenders turn their lives around then you may be in need of a holiday. So what are the signs that you need to get away? Let’s take a look… 1. You’re increasingly irritableIf you’re finding yourself increasingly stressed out and irritable with colleagues then it may be a warning sign that you’re in need of a break. As a probation worker, you’ll be trained to deal with anti-social behaviour but are you aware of when you’re displaying your own challenging behaviour? For example, you may be snapping at co-workers or escalating things into a bigger deal than they may need to be. If this is unusual behaviour for you, then it could be a clear sign that you need a few days relaxation. 2. You’re making unnecessary mistakesReport writing is a key skill for any probation officer. With so many reports due to so many different agencies it can be easy to make a simple clerical error, but this could cause significant problems for both offenders and their victims. When you’re reviewing your reports, if you notice that you’re making simple mistakes as a result of stress or tiredness, then it’s definitely a red flag that you need to take some much-needed annual leave. 3. You’re relying on too much caffeine and sugar to get you through the dayLike any high pressured job role, it can be easy to head into the nearest Costa to grab a large latte and a sugary snack to keep your energy levels lifted. But whilst they may taste satisfying, you’ll soon find yourself crashing mid afternoon as you struggle to maintain your blood sugar levels. If this sounds familiar, then you need to try and make healthier decisions which will not just impact your waistline but your purse too. Where possible, try to limit caffeine and opt for flavoured water or low calorie snacks instead. If you can maintain a steady blood sugar throughout the day, you’ll naturally feel less stressed, more alert and you’ll likely get a better night sleep as well. 4. You’re jealous of anyone booking a short breakIf you know that you’re in need of a holiday, nothing can give the rage more than a co-worker talking about their latest city break or showing you their holiday snaps. If this sounds familiar then why not speak to your line manager and book a few days leave. With various last-minute deals available, you could easily catch a few days away at a bargain price! 5. You’re unmotivated and fed upThis is the most serious sign of needing a break. It’s not just about taking a few days to recharge your batteries, it could be a more pressing sign that you’re unhappy in your job role and you’re ready to move onto a new challenge. If you’re struggling to switch off from work at the end of a long shift, or you’re finding yourself staring at the ceiling at 3am thinking about work then you may need to take some time off to refresh your mind. Of course, if after a few days of rest you find yourself dreading returning to the office then it is likely time for you to start looking for a new probation role.