In "Get Past the Recruiting-Poster Hype," I wrote about how to sort through the side-show barking of police recruiters. It was brought to my attention that due to the economic woes of some agencies, recruiting is nearly extinct in some areas. Granted, twenty years ago it was an industry standard. Recruiters still exist in certain areas, so here are some more job seeking pointers.
The harsh economic realities of today have forced many departments to split benefits packages for their employees. Some see this as a near punishment to police and fire employees due to tight budgets. I won't wade into this debate. My stance is that if you want to hire and retain professionals, you must reward them for a lifelong dedication to their vocation and service to your community.
Defined benefit programs and police pensions are now on chopping blocks everywhere. So be aware of this. Be sure you understand the current benefit package for new hires. I don't want to hear about what the 12-year veteran is making. You may have to pay more for health insurance than incumbents.
This is true for other perks as well. For instance, one department is removing longevity pay for new hires. Another is dropping education bonuses. If you've been eyeing a department or have your name on some eternal waiting list, the situation may have changed. Review what's going to happen if you're hired soon. There's no legal recourse, since you're not an employee, so remember that rules for new hires can be a moving target. These should enlighten you about how this agency is perceived by its fiduciary supporter.
During recent hiring consortium testing, starry-eyed applicants were asking, "How much do you make?" Don't ask what others are getting! Ask what you'll get! If they offer information on pay, ask for clarification. Is the number they give you for entry level candidates who have yet to enter the academy? What about for pre-certified officers or lateral transfers? You're likely to find vast differences.
Here's an area where you must to some independent research, because no recruiter or other point of contact for a department will give you this information. Are there any court-ordered or voluntary consent decrees binding or looming over the agency? If they've sinned in the past for inappropriate hiring practices, you could be a big winner or loser.
I heard a story about a military veteran who applied to another agency, but didn't declare his Veterans Preference Points. If you're a military veteran, you've earned the points, so declare them!
Finally—and I've told you this before—follow directions! Especially if this is a civil-service process. There are some defined rules and your trying to get by them may not be the proper starting point. It may seem like the aggressive maneuver because times are hard, jobs are scarce, and you're putting on the moves to circumvent the system. I don't care what stories you've heard, read and heed the rules. Don't ask for a pass, and set them (and you) up for an integrity violation.
It's competitive out there, and I know you want the job. So learn the kinks in the process. Don't fall for them. Instead, work your plan as an intelligent job applicant. Good luck!