Have you ever read a firefighter job flyer and wondered what certain items meant and how (or if) they actually applied to you? If you have, you are probably not alone.
The real key is what you have done to educate yourself about all of the portions of a firefighter testing process, the actual job description of a firefighter (for that specific department), and the wage and benefit packages that are being advertised for the specific position you are applying for.
When I turned in my first firefighter application, I really didn't spend a great deal of time evaluating the job flyer.
About the only things I looked at were the minimum requirements (to make sure I was able to take the test), and the final filing date (to insure that I got the application in on time to be considered).
It didn't take me long to realize that there was a great deal of valuable information to be found on the job flyer.
Information that could actually assist me in preparing for the department's testing process (including the oral interview), as well as educating me in how fire departments differ from each other based on their makeup, demographics, wage and benefit packages, and testing processes.
What type of information does the job flyer contain and why is it important to you, the firefighter candidate that is aspiring to work for that department? Here are some of the main points to a job flyer and why you should pay attention to them:
This is the exact title that the agency is recruiting for. This exact title should go in the objective portion of your resume (the first heading underneath your personal contact information (name, address, and phone number).
This title will also be required for the application. Make sure you are familiar with that job title.
Countless candidates come by the fire station and say they are testing for the firefighter position. Well, our entry-level position is actually Firefighter / Engineer (each company has at least two Firefighter/Engineers who rotate driving and riding backwards), not Firefighter.
By calling the position by the wrong name, you are showing me that you have not done your homework.
Overview of the position/job description
Make sure you know what the basic duties of the position are so you know what you are getting into and will be expected to do.
If you are asked the question, "Tell us about the duties of a firefighter for this agency," you can quote information from the job flyer (hopefully you also did more research such as stopping by fire stations and talking with the firefighters, visiting the website, etc.).
For those of you that are Paramedics, here is an important section. Many departments that provide ambulance service to their community expect the newly hired firefighters to work on the ambulance or keep their paramedic license for so many years.
This is the section that might explain any such duties or expectations. Don't wait until after you're hired to say, "Nobody ever told me I was going to have to spend the majority of my time working on the box (ambulance)."
Note: I would always attempt to get a full job description for every position I was testing for. Many times, the job flyer only has an abbreviated version. Go to the Personnel/Human Resource office and ask them for a copy of the full job description. They are expected to have job descriptions for EVERY position in EVERY department, from the top to the bottom.
Overview of the department/community
Many job flyers include basic information about the fire department and the communities served. Here is the start to your research that you can build upon.
Many oral panels ask the question, "Tell us what you know about the fire department and/or the community." Well, here is your starting point.
Minimum Qualifications (to take the test or remain employed after getting a job)
These items can vary from department to department. Some departments only require a candidate to be 18 years old and have a high school diploma or G.E.D. Others may require a candidate to be at least 21 years old, be a paramedic with at least two years of paramedic experience, and also have a state firefighter 1 certificate.
KEY POINT #1: Make sure you meet the minimum requirements or your application will usually be rejected. If you don't meet the minimum requirements, take note of what you do need to take that test in the future. Those are things you should be striving to obtain!
KEY POINT #2: If there are minimum qualifications to take the test, does the application state that you are to provide copies of those qualifications with your application? If so, follow those directions or your application may be rejected.
I've heard too many candidates say they were rejected because they didn't include a copy of a certain certificate. Don't let yourself fall into the same trap — set yourself up for success by reading the job flyer and highlighting things such as what copies need to be included with the application.
Final Filing Date
This is probably one of the most important things to note. Highlight this date and time.
I've heard too many candidates say, "I thought they were still accepting applications," after the filing period had ended.
Note this date and put it in your calendar. You should actually turn that application in a.s.a.p.
Some departments (like the one I work for), actually use the date that the application was filed as a tie-breaker in case of a tied score on the hiring list. Why sit on it and take that chance?
Also, some departments only pass out a certain amount of applications and accept a certain number back. I've seen filing dates as saying, "Friday February 20 (or until 500 applications have been received — whichever comes first)."
Application Filing Location
Some departments allow you to mail in your application, while some say you can drop them off in person at a certain location, on a certain date, and/or during a certain time frame.
Some departments also only allow the person putting in the application to turn in the application. So before you have your friend or loved one drop it off (and have to face the rejection), read the fine print and follow the directions.
I would always suggest going in person because then you know it was received.