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Paul Clinton

Paul Clinton

As the POLICE Web editor, Paul Clinton contributes posts about patrol cars, motorcycles, and other police vehicles. He previously wrote about automotive electronics as managing editor of Mobile Electronics. Prior to that, he was an award-winning newspaper reporter.



William Harvey

William Harvey

William "Bill" Harvey is currently serving as chief of police in south central Pennsylvania. He retired from the Savannah (Ga.) Police Department where he worked assignments in training, patrol, and CID. Harvey has more than 25 years of experience working with recruits, rookies, and FTOs.
Careers

First Impressions Count

When applying for a job, follow the directions to a "t."

June 01, 2007  |  by William Harvey - Also by this author

You have waited for the announcement that your local agency is hiring officers. Then you see it in the newspaper. You cannot wait to make that application to become a cop! So you want to run down immediately to apply. Your enthusiasm is appreciated, but don't let it end your career before it starts. Stop, read the announcement carefully, and comply with what it directs you to do.

A department may announce its ad in this Sunday's paper, but the application process may not begin until later that week. This is a common practice for an agency to advertise in the Sunday ads since this edition has the largest readership. But just because it is in the Sunday paper does not necessarily mean that you should apply at 0800 hours Monday, so that you will be first in line. It doesn't work that way. Be smart and follow the directions.

Here's what happens if you don't. Let's say that the next day you enter the personnel office requesting the application or call in at 0801 hours. You have just made a very unfavorable first impression with the people you want to work with. You've told them that you can't follow directions.

If the process does not open until a stated date and civil service rules say the application cannot be given out, these are the rules and practices. If you come in demanding or asking for a favor, this will look unfavorable on you.

Some of you may be thinking, "Why should I care about the impression I present to some 'desk jockey' or receptionist?" That attitude will cost you. You don't know who is behind the counter or on the other end of the telephone, and it may be someone that you need in your corner.

In my agency, my civil service secretary is also my executive assistant. In large departments, the recruiters may assist with the hiring process such as the background or integrity checks. So asking the chief's executive assistant or an officer who may later perform your background checks to bend the rules is not a smart thing to do. This goes in the civilian world, too. Secretaries and reception workers often have the ear of the executives and managers that you want to impress. If you make demands of them, ask them for special treatment, or treat them like "nobodies," it will get back to the boss.

OK. Let's say you follow the guidelines for when to apply. That's great. Now make sure you have everything with you that the agency requested on its announcement.

If the directions state for you to bring with you certain items for the application process, bring them. For example, if you have to produce photo identification or a driver's license to prove that you are of proper age and you are who you say you are. Saying, "I forgot it," or "Could you run me in the computer?" is a no-go.

Here's a really good tip for you. If you have to take copies of paperwork, make copies before you come in, and bring them with you. Most departments will not make copies for you. There is a miracle machine in the lobby for 25 cents a copy. Do the copying yourself; don't ask them to do it.

Read the hiring announcement completely, and follow the directions. These are not suggestions; they are requirements of the application process. Some of the traits of a good law enforcement officer are a keen sense of detail, integrity, and ability to follow directions. If you have them, show them off with a great first impression.

Tags: Job Applications


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