Five key steps to writing an effective law enforcement resume
Earning a position in law enforcement requires many hours of training and dedication. To land a job in this field, it is crucially important to write a resume that not only highlights your commitment to training and professional development, but also your key skills, experience, and accomplishments.
In this guide, we will take you through 5 steps for writing a law enforcement resume that will impress potential employers. Keep reading to learn how to:
- Choose a resume format that fits your experience in law enforcement
- Highlight your professional value in your resume summary
- Showcase a wide range of law enforcement abilities in your skills
- Write a work section that impresses law enforcement employers
- Include the proper law enforcement educational credentials
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1. Choose a resume format that fits your experience in law enforcement
Choosing a resume format is the first big decision you need to make. As a law enforcement professional, it is critically important to select a format that fits your current experience level.
There are 3 main formatting options to choose from:
- The Reverse-Chronological Resume: This resume format is the most commonly used and the standard most employers expect to see. It focuses on the applicant’s work experience, making this section the largest on the document. This format works well for applicants with at least 1 to 2 years of experience in their chosen field.
- The Functional Resume: This resume format is designed for applicants with minimal work experience, focusing instead on academics, skills, and unpaid experience. Applicants who have recently graduated from high school or college most commonly use this format, as they often have many years of educational experience but very limited relevant work experience.
- The Hybrid Resume: The hybrid resume combines elements of both of the above formats. Rather than emphasizing one element in particular, this format spreads out the focus of the document more evenly between all sections. This format is well-suited for applicants with some relevant experience, those who are changing careers, or those with large gaps in their work history.
Choose your preferred template and make your resume shine.
2. Highlight your professional value in your resume summary
A resume summary is an essential component of any law enforcement resume.
Well-written resume summaries will introduce the applicant to the employer and offer up specific details and notable accomplishments that highlight the applicant’s value. This will not only help to impress employers but also demonstrate how you can benefit the organization long-term.
With this in mind, let’s examine the following resume summary examples:
Incorrect law enforcement professional summary example
Law Enforcement professional with over 7 years of experience working in crime investigation and drug recognition. Assisted a task force of many other officers to investigate a major drug ring in the local area, leading to multiple arrests.
Why is this Incorrect?
This example starts out strong by stating the applicant’s years of experience and specialized areas of expertise. However, as the applicant provides more detail they lose this level of specificity, making the overall summary sound weak and unfinished.
Corrected law enforcement professional summary example
Driven Law Enforcement Officer with 7+ years of experience working as a Crime Investigator, with a specialization in drug recognition. Assisted a DEA task force of 20+ officers in the investigation and discovery of a local drug ring, leading to 40+ arrests and apprehension of 100+ lbs. of contraband.
Why is this Correct?
In this corrected example, the beginning details are mostly the same but with more engaging wording. The details provided in the second sentence offer a much higher level of detail, highlighting the applicant’s specialty and how they have applied it in the field.
3. Showcase a wide range of law enforcement abilities in your skills
Law enforcement officers have many technical abilities, such as defensive driving and weapon handling. However, an excellent law enforcement officer will have an equal amount of interpersonal abilities as well, such as their ability to communicate and resolve conflicts with aggressive people.
To impress employers, including both these types of skills on your resume is essential. To help you brainstorm which skills to include, here are 10 examples of both technical and interpersonal law enforcement skills:
The best law enforcement technical skills to put on your resume
- Patrol operations
- Defensive driving
- Weapons handling
- Incident reports (& other legal paperwork)
- Search and seizure
- Maintaining public order
- Supervising event security staff
- Responding to calls
- Conducting criminal investigations
- Knowledge of local, state, and federal laws
Effective law enforcement interpersonal skills
- Conflict resolution
- Active listening
- Verbal and non-verbal communication
- Community rapport building
- Empathy and compassion
- Critical thinking
- Attention to detail
- Level headedness
4. Write a work section that impresses law enforcement employers
When applying for positions within law enforcement, you want your resume to reflect your best skills and accomplishment in your previous jobs.
As such, you should always strive to include highly specific and quantifiable details in your work experience descriptions. Along with listing your key responsibilities, you should also showcase any major accomplishments you achieved in a previous position.
Here is an example of a work experience entry from a law enforcement resume
United States Penitentiary Atlanta, Atlanta, GA
Law Enforcement & Correctional Officer
November 2017 to June 2021
- Performed weekly inmate searches in a maximum-security prison, uncovering illegal contraband, weapons, and drugs.
- Maintained reports and records of inmate phone calls and visitations.
- Sourced a new electronic file management system that improved document management efficiency by 20%.
5. Include the proper law enforcement educational credentials
As a law enforcement officer, you will need to a minimum of a high school diploma or GED to begin the training process. Once one of these credentials is earned, many future officers choose to go directly to a certified training program.
Alternatively, you can also pursue a two or four year degree in a related field to give yourself a more competitive edge, like criminal justice or law.
No matter what law enforcement educational credentials you have, it is crucial to list them properly and succinctly on your resume. If you have opted for a functional resume format, make sure your descriptions of educational experiences are clear and to the point.
Keep in mind that each state has different standards and requirements for law enforcement, so always check the necessary requirements for your state of residence before submitting a resume.
Listing education on a law enforcement resume
Cleveland State Community College, Cleveland, TN
Law Enforcement Training Technial Certificate
- Defensive and Tactical Driver Certificate — East TN Regional Law Enforcement Academy