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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.
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Getting the Application Together

Applying for jobs takes preparation.

November 03, 2008  |  by William Harvey - Also by this author

This column is for the police applicant. You have waited until you are of proper age, graduated from college, getting out of the military, or whatever. You want to get into the competitive job market, but there are obstacles to overcome in your application process. Let's go over what you are going to need to know and how to cut down on time, expenses, and headaches.

Compose Your Life

I would recommend that you start creating a document containing your life data now. There are certain areas on the applications that you will have to complete. Making sure everything is accurate is important.

Education—Applications will ask for each school's location and the dates of attendance. If you moved about as a child, this may require some research: Do it now. You will need information about your college or other tech schools, including their proper location, the number of hours you accumulated, your major, and degree or certifications obtained.

Work History—Applications will inquire as to where you have worked in the past. Correct dates of employment, beginning and ending salary, and names of supervisors will be expected. Have the proper phone numbers for contact as well. One important point is to honestly answer the reason for leaving the employment. The background investigator will find out, so be honest.

References—Have their proper names and titles. Do not put down "Slim," "Sport," or "Bubba" unless, of course, these are their true birth names. Accurate mailing addresses and contact telephone numbers are a must. If you're providing a person's mobile phone, work, or home number, so note it. Also, it is proper for you to request permission for someone to actually serve as a reference for you. The big warning here is that a very astute background investigator will chat-up a reference about you. But, their question will be to 'give me three other people that know about you.' This is where the investigation takes a twist.

Copies of Everything

You might as well gather up a plethora of papers and head to the copy center. If you think you are going to apply with a couple of departments, make double the amount. You will have to produce copies of your documentation. No human resources clerk is going to do this for you; it is your expense. Here are the general papers to gather for a good quality copy.

Birth certificate or birth registration, your driver's license, social security card, high school diploma or GED, and college or trade school diplomas are the most requested.

If you are prior military, have copies of the DD form 214 handy. If you have any letters of commendation from the military, have these handy, too. Due to the movement of military personnel across the globe, it's difficult for background investigators to track down references from this part of your life. But letters of commendation can speak volumes. 

I have seen some applications that asked for school transcripts. However, some institutions will not directly release them to the student. If this is your case, have copies of transcript requests handy to submit.

A few agencies that have residency requirements may ask for proof of residency. In this case, a utility bill showing your name and address will most often suffice.

Here I want you to get organized. Make good quality copies; don't make them double sided or try to cram more than one item on the paper. Now, get some file folders and place them in their jackets. When you start to complete an application and it requests this or that, reach in the file and attach them. No more running back to the apartment, or making copies.

Planning and preparation is the key to cutting down on wasted time and anguish. You have dreamed of this job. Stop dreaming and plan to get it! Your preparation now will make this torture course bearable.

Plans and dreams will work with proper preparation.


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