Creating your career portfolio
In addition to your exceptional testing skills, lady luck has a role in the promotional testing process. Why? Because you need to have enough time in grade — usually three or four years at your current rank — at the exact time your department will be administering a promotional examination. Miss the cutoff date by a couple of months and it could be years before the list eventually expires and even longer before another test is given.
So, as luck would have it you might have seven or eight years on the job before even having the opportunity to compete for higher rank. What you do in the meantime — before the actual test announcement — will have a dramatic impact on your law enforcement career as well as how well you do when given the opportunity to test for promotion.
Here are some of the things I believe you should be doing if you wish to become an exceptional police officer.
If you haven’t taken a test since high school, you will be at a distinct disadvantage when it comes time to take your promotional exam. Merely taking some practice tests in the back of a book you bought on “How to Excel in Police Promotional Examinations” won’t put you in the same ball park with competitors who have developed superior test taking skills. Most of those folks are able to quickly eliminate two of the four answer selections on a multiple choice test and focus just one the two remaining selections to choose the correct answer. They achieve this capability through practice — practice obtained by taking lots of college exams.
In addition, since college students do a lot of formal writing — essays, research reports, and term papers — they also achieve higher scores on essay questions and in-basket assessment center testing.
I do not recommend you receive an advanced academic degree in Criminal Justice. An Associate Degree is fine, but you need to obtain academic credentials which offer more diversity. Most of the command level police officers I come into contact with have either an MBA or a MPA, both of which not only advance their law enforcement career, but have viability if they chose to go into the private sector after pulling the pin.
In addition to preparing for promotion by going to college, you will also be taking a significant step for life after your police career. It’s no longer unusual to see an officer retire with half pay or more at the age of 41 or thereabouts. What are you going to do for the rest of your life? If you retire at $50K, but your lifestyle is at $90K, where will the other $40K come from? Have you prepared to make the transition from policing to another job? Many retired, middle-aged police officers I know look inside themselves and discover nothing there but the silence of lost opportunities. Don’t let this happen to you!
If you have served for 20 years or more — made Detective, Sergeant, or above, and have a Masters Degree in Public Administration — you have made yourself very marketable. So, begin now by asking yourself, “What are my goals for the next six months? What are my goals for a year from now? What about five years from now? What will I do to achieve those goals? What do I want to accomplish personally and professionally?”
Remember, nothing good comes easy.
Develop Your Personal Skills
1.) What is the manner in which you speak and listen to others?
2.) How do you act physically?
3.) Are you in harmony emotionally?
What about your ethics?
Be safe out there!
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