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Being a Probation Officer requires a range of qualities and qualifications that practitioners need to be able to demonstrate in their everyday role as well as via their CV and at job interview.

Excellent communication skills


Perhaps the most important quality is good all-round communication skills, not only in terms of good verbal communication but also in report writing ability for Pre-Sentence Reports and other specialist documents.

The range of individuals and agencies to interact with from offenders, victims, police and prison service colleagues as well as relevant statutory and voluntary agencies underlines that. In addition, awareness of body language is also of relevance.

Critical thinking and decision-making


Other key strengths include critical thinking, decision-making and problem-solving skills, as well as emotional stability to cope with the range of scenarios you may face in managing high risk or dangerous offenders.

As a Probation Officer, you will also have commitment, good judgement and the ability to think on your feet. Being well organised also helps enhance your performance and the service you provide to clients.

Flexible and mobile


You will need flexibility as the roles may vary depending on where you work, such as with the National Probation Service (NPS), part of Her Majesty’s Prison and Probation Service (HMPPS), or one of the 21 private sector community rehabilitation companies (CRCs). You will also be mobile and able to visit clients in their homes, or be based in courts, prisons or work at approved premises.

Motivational and inter-personal skills


Motivation skills are of value as you inspire offenders to change attitudes and behaviour in order to help reduce further offending. Probation Officers must also have excellent interpersonal skills and the ability to relate to others, as well as a caring attitude and teamwork and collaboration skills.

What to include on your CV


It is important that you clearly convey these attributes on your CV and are able to bring them out during a job interview.

Of course, you will also need relevant qualifications.

That will include successfully completing Probation Officer training via the Professional Qualification in Probation (PQiP), showing relevant experience of working with challenging behaviour, and have a recognised qualification at QCF Level 5 or above (for example an honours degree, HND, foundation degree, diploma of higher education or higher apprenticeship).

Knowledge and understanding of the probation service, criminal justice system, crime and criminal behaviour, penal policy and punishment, and the rehabilitation of offenders, are paramount.

Demonstrating experience of working with challenging behaviour in a range of settings such as approved premises, prisons and youth offending teams should be included on your CV too.

If a career as a Probation Officer appeals, why not take a look at the latest probation officer jobs available?
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