The ultimate guide to writing an effective police officer resume
As a police officer, it is your duty to maintain law and order to keep local citizens safe. When applying for a position in this field, it is essential to create a resume that showcases your wide range of abilities, experience, and accomplishments. By doing so, you can impress employers and land your desired position in the police department of your choosing.
In this guide, we will cover 5 key elements of your resume to focus on and how to optimize them accordingly. Keep reading to learn about:
- Choosing the right resume format as a police officer
- Writing a police officer resume summary that showcases your strengths
- Including both technical and interpersonal police officer skills
- Highlighting key responsibilities and accomplishments in your work experience section
- Describing police officer educational credentials correctly and succinctly
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1. Choose the right resume format as a police officer
The first step to writing a resume as a police officer is to choose the proper format according to your experience level. Every resume format differs in style and purpose, making certain formats better for different applicants.
Here is a breakdown of the 3 main types of resume formats to choose from:
- Reverse-Chronological: The reverse-chronological resume focuses on work experience, listing the applicant’s most recent job first and working backward from there. In this resume, the work experience section will serve as the focal point and make up the largest section on the document.
- Functional: The functional resume removes the focus from work experience and places it instead on education, skills, and unpaid experience. This format is commonly used by recent graduates who have many years of academic experience but little experience in the formal workforce.
- Hybrid: The hybrid resume combines elements from both of the above formats. It spreads out the focus of the resume more evenly between all sections, allowing for a more diversified resume. This format is commonly used by applicants changing careers or working around large gaps in their work histories.
Generally speaking, the reverse-chronological resume is the standard expected by most employers. However, the other formats can be just as effective when well-written and can be massively helpful to applicants who lack relevant work experience.
Choose your preferred template and make your resume shine.
2. Write a police officer resume summary that showcases your strengths
A resume summary is a brief statement at the beginning of a resume that introduces an applicant to the employer. This summary should contain key information, such as your years of experience and specializations, as well as specific examples of notable achievements.
Here is an example of a weak police officer summary, followed by a corrected example and explanation:
Incorrect police officer resume summary example
Police officer with many years of experience working as a patrol lieutenant. Adept at leading large teams, including higher-ranking officers. Highly skilled in leadership, delegation, and community building amongst both citizens and police department officials. Responsible for the creation of a county-wide kickball team for emergency responders.
Why is this Incorrect?
In this example, the focus is a little too all over the place. The applicant needs to focus in on more specific details, such as their responsibilities as a patrol lieutenant or greater context around the sports team for emergency responders.
Corrected police officer resume summary example
Dedicated Police Officer with 5+ years of experience working as a Patrol Lieutenant, supervising a team of 15 police officers and 2 police sergeants. Diverse skillset with a specialization in community and rapport building. Created a county-wide kickball team for emergency responders to help foster greater internal communication and collaboration – currently, the team has 30+ members.
Why is this Correct?
In this corrected example, the details the applicant provides are far more specific. They give greater context around their role as a patrol lieutenant, then go on to describe their specialization in community and rapport building. They finish off with a specific example of how they apply their community-building skills to improve internal collaboration amongst emergency responders.
3. Include the best technical and interpersonal police officer skills
As you write your police officer resume, it is highly important to consider which skills you will include in your skills and work experience section, as well as your resume summary. When choosing these skills, you should strive to include both technical and interpersonal skills to show you have a wide and diverse range of abilities.
With this in mind, here are 10 examples of both technical and interpersonal skills that look great on a police officer resume:
The best technical skills to put on your police officer resume
- Interrogation techniques
- Patrolling procedures
- Emergency response
- Knowledge of local, state, and federal law
- Crime prevention tactics
- Weapons handling
- Drug identification and confiscation
- Filing legal paperwork (incident reports, activity reports, etc.)
- Evidence booking
- De-escalation tactics
Effective interpersonal skills for your police officer CV
- Active listening
- Community awareness
- Conflict resolution
- Rapport building
- Verbal and non-verbal communication
- Teamwork and team building
- Critical thinking
4. Highlight key responsibilities and accomplishments in your work experience section
In most cases, your work experience section will be a focal point of your resume.
As such, the descriptions you include in this section should highlight your key responsibilities and accomplishments within previous positions. You should always aim to include details that showcase your ability to go above and beyond what is asked of you, emphasizing your dedication to professional development as a police officer.
Here is an example of a work experience entry from a police officer resume
Kissimmee Police Department, Kissimmee, FL
January 2016 to November 2020
- Patrolled a local community, building rapport with citizens and helping to establish a community watch program.
- Responded immediately to reports of emergency situations, including automobile accidents, assaults, and bomb threats.
- Sourced a new digital case management system that, when implemented, reduced operational costs by 10%.
5. Describe police officer educational credentials correctly and succinctly
When writing a police officer resume, the most important piece of educational information to include is the training program you completed and any relevant certifications you hold.
As for educational pre-requisites, most police departments require a minimum of a high school diploma or GED. However, graduating from a police academy or more traditional two-to-four-year college will give you a greater competitive edge as an applicant.
Here is an example of a well-crafted education section on a police officer resume
Northern Virginia Criminal Justice Training Academy
Criminal Justice Basic Training Certificate
- Director’s Award for Academic Excellence — 2017 & 2018 Recipient