Making the most of your experience
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 experienceIf 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 skillsAs 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 roleUltimately, 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.
Starting your career as a probation service officer
If you read our recent article about how to enjoy a varied career in probation, then you’ll know that the probation sector is open to anyone. Lower level probation service officer job roles are open to anyone interested in working in the sector. However, if you have a degree or relevant criminal justice experience (such as work as a prison officer, housing or youth offending) you may have a greater chance of success. We briefly mentioned in our previous article that the National Probation Service regularly hosts dedicated interview days for prospective probation service officers, so we wanted to clarify how to apply for a position and what to expect from an assessment centre.Eligible for those keen to work within the NPS Currently, the probation sector is split into two key areas; the National Probation Service (NPS) which manages high to medium risk offenders and Community Rehabilitation Companies (CRCs), which support low to medium risk offenders. It has been announced that the government plans to reverse the controversial Transforming Rehabilitation programme and merge the two services together. However, nothing will likely change before December 2020. If you are keen to start a career as a probation service officer, then you may be invited to attend a dedicated interview day, run by the NPS. These assessment days are specifically designed to facilitate PSO interviews across the UK and are an opportunity to find out more about the job role. How to apply If you are new to the sector and you’ve never applied for a job role before, then you should apply via the NPS website. This is a dedicated site which provides full details of what the role entails and how much you can expect to be paid. During your online application, you will be asked to provide details of your career history, education and any relevant experience. Following that, the application will move onto a decision-making test which will determine your ability to respond to specific scenarios and competency questions to test your attitude and skills. What to expect from an assessment centre Once you pass, you will be invited to attend a half-day interview at an assessment centre. Held in locations across the UK, these days are a way of undertaking a final interview before an assessor decides if you are the right candidate for the role. During your visit, the session will be split into three distinct parts; a group exercise, a written test and an individual interview. The assessors are looking for desirable candidates who stand out as having the potential to make fantastic a PSO. They want to find out if you can work in a team, what your communication skills are like and how you can adapt your experience and life skills to the requirements of the job. Whilst no specific training or qualifications are required, you may wish to highlight any relevant background experience you may have. Candidates who have worked within the housing sector, voluntary community groups or within a healthcare environment can be at an advantage. If you are unsuccessful in your first assessment day, there is nothing to stop you from re-applying. Take the time to reconsider your experience – perhaps see if you can undertake any voluntary roles which may give you a greater advantage.To find out how we can help you to progress your probation career, please get in touch.
You’ve got the job! What’s next?
So you got that job you were hoping for! And if you’re registered with Sanctuary, you will know that you are in capable hands. We will take full responsibility for handling contracts, confirming start days and ensuring you’re fully compliant so you can stay focused. Whether you’re working in offender healthcare, starting a new job within probation or joining a youth offending team, there’s much to consider ahead of your first day. To help you on your way, we’ve listed a few things that you may want to consider before starting:Time for a short break?After leaving your current role, you may wish to take time out for yourself and enjoy a few days of rest and relaxation before you start a new contract. If you’re resigning from a permanent position, your ability to take a few days holiday between jobs may depend on your notice period and whether you have any annual leave left to take. Likewise, if you’re working on a short-term contract then you will need to be sure of your final contracted working date. Your Sanctuary consultant will liaise with the new employer and confirm your new start date, so if you do need a day or two to yourself, make sure your consultant is aware. This will allow them to factor it in on your behalf.Practical preparations ahead of the big dayWe will collect, verify and provide your security clearances (if required), compliance and immunisation documentation to your new employer before your start date. We will also continue to monitor document expiry dates throughout your employment and remind you before any are about to expire.Have you planned your route to work? If you’re making the most of public transport, how does this fit in with shift work? If you’re going to drive, do you know where the nearest car park is and how much change you may need? You may benefit from googling the journey at the time you plan to leave; using a tool such as Google Maps could help you to spot any high traffic areas and plan alternative routes. No one wants to be late for their first day, so you may even wish to do a practice run ahead of time.Check the latest legislationIn today’s changing political climate, we’re seeing a fast-paced evolution across all areas of criminal justice. From the announcement that probation will be re-nationalised through to the latest stages of the Domestic Abuse Bill 2019, it’s important to ensure that your knowledge is up-to-date. We use our blog pages to discuss sector-related news and also recommend checking in with the latest news from the Ministry of Justice and the Department for Health and Social Care. Remind yourself of the job roleIf you’re moving into a new probation or youth offending role, then you are likely going to be working in a similar position. However, every company operates differently, and what may be standard practice for one employer may be different in another. Before you walk in on your first day, re-read the original job description. It will remind you of what the employer is looking for, and why they chose you to fill the position. If there are specific references to key areas within the role, then make sure you are confident in your knowledge of those specialisms. First day jitters are normalFirst day nerves are normal, but everyone will be keen to make a good first impression. We always recommend that you walk in with a big smile and take the time to join in with conversations. If you show that you’re warm and approachable, a good listener and a hard worker you’ll soon be a much-loved member of the team.For any additional help in preparing for your first day, please contact your Sanctuary consultant.
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.