Police officers never know what they will confront from day-to-day. Keeping the public safe while staying calm yet alert is a tall order. The hunt for a police officer position requires a resume that puts these skills at the forefront.
The process for becoming a police officer requires tests of your skills and fitness. All eyes will be on you, especially during these times of extra scrutiny. Just as you will be forced to make quick decisions, hiring committees will make quick decisions about you – sometimes by a mere glance at your police officer resume.
You’re not a professional resume writer, but you can turn to those who are. That includes Resume.io, with its expert resources for job hunters including resume guides and resume examples for 350+ professions. The easy-to-use resume builder will take the burden of formatting off your shoulders so you can focus on the content. These will give you the tools you need to express why you are a great candidate to be a police officer.
This resume guide, along with the corresponding police officer resume example will cover the following topics:
- What does a police officer do?
- How to write a police officer resume (tips and tricks)
- The best format for a police officer resume sample
- Advice on each section of your resume (profile, work history, education, skills)
- Professional resume layout and design hints.
What does a police officer do?
If all your ideas about what police officers do were based on TV shows, you would envision constant chases, either by foot or car, or daily murder and mayhem. While police officers are tasked first and foremost with preventing crime and upholding the law, they also spend time building relationships with the public, negotiating disputes and writing reports.
Police officers encounter stressful situations and must respond calmly even as they are expected to make split-second decisions. On the flipside, police officers spend many hours each shift completing paperwork, according to Police Chief magazine.
Some parts of a police officer’s job are not crime-related, but help ensure public safety. They direct traffic when there is a collision or hazard in the road or in storms when traffic lights are out and organize emergency personnel like firefighters at accidents and disaster sites.
Police officers may work for a municipality, state or highway patrol, a sheriff’s department or in a special jurisdiction. These special jurisdictions include schools, parks, transportation centers, hospitals, housing authorities and government buildings.
Police forces often organize into specialized units. These may include:
- Traffic: conduct crash investigations, patrol roads and highways, perform traffic safety functions
- Aviation: mostly in large cities, these units conduct search and rescue operations and patrol by air; officers need a pilot’s license
- K-9: train and work with dogs that detect drugs and explosives and help apprehend suspects
- Bomb squad: investigate bomb threats and find and defuse explosives
- Mounted police: ride motorcycles, ATVs bicycles or horses to patrol and respond to calls
- Harbor or marine patrol: conduct law enforcement, search and rescue, and assistance duties
- Cybercrime: investigate crimes involving computers and other digital activity
- Animal control: handle all calls involving animals from stray cats to rapid bears
- SWAT (special weapons and tactics) teams: work to safely resolve dangerous situations with specialized training and weaponry
Keep the peace and order in your CV. Have a glance at other resume examples from the security and protective services category and get inspired:
Police officer job market and outlook
PPublic safety will always be a concern, so there will always be a job market and employment outlook for police officers. With the increased scrutiny of police departments in general, big cities such as New York and Chicago are reporting record numbers of retirements. Despite that, the demand for officers is expected to grow 3 percent from 2022-32, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, a bit slower than the average career.
If you’re looking for the highest paycheck, head to Washington, D.C., where detectives and criminal investigators earn a mean salary of $ 133,890. The median across the United States is $86,280.
Police patrol officers rank as the 13th most stressful job, according to U.S. News and World Report. That’s partly because an officer never knows how much danger a traffic stop could lead to. On the plus side, the unemployment rate for patrol officers is 0.7 percent.
How to write a police officer resume
Before you begin to write your police officer resume, you need to know what sections to include. Your CV should contain the following elements:
- The resume header
- The resume summary (aka profile or personal statement)
- The employment history section
- The resume skills section
- The education section
Tone is all important here. What image do you want to present to hiring managers to convince them you would make a great police officer? You need to exude calm, authority and precision and your resume should, too. You can do this by using concise language and strongly stating your experience and policing philosophy.
Your job is to convince hiring managers that you are the right person for the job. Not only is your knowledge of the law deep, but you have excellent people skills to work with the public and you stay calm under pressure. Using strong descriptive language, without crossing the line into bragging territory will make your paralegal resume a convincing one.
Getting past the Applicant Tracking System
An Applicant Tracking System (ATS) is used by most companies to sort and scan resumes. In addition to inputting your data into the human resources system, the ATS ranks your resume by scanning for keywords and phrases pegged to the job.
There’s no absolute way to ensure you will rank high enough to beat the ATS, but you can increase your chances greatly by following a few simple steps.
First, analyze the job listing and note any skills and requirements. Second, cross-reference those words and phrases with your resume. Make sure any skills you have that are mentioned in the listing are also in your resume. Use the exact phrasing when possible. (Don’t force it. Recruiters can tell if you are trying to “stuff” your resume with keywords.) Third, use both acronyms and the full names of organization, certificates, etc., just to make sure the ATS catches them.
A final word of advice: Don’t leave important information for your cover letter (but do check out our cover letter templates and examples here). The ATS may not scan it or rank it as highly.
Choosing the best resume format for a police officer
Unless you are a career-changer or have extensive experience in cybersecurity, you are best off with the tried and true format of reverse chronological order for your police officer resume. This style shows off your current position at the top of your employment history section, making it easy for recruiters to see just what you are doing now.
We mention cybersecurity because the functional resume format may work for you if you are trying to detail a long list of complex skills and competencies. In this type of resume, you expand your skills section to accommodate your niche abilities. Your work history section will become shorter.
Career-changers and new entries into the job market may also consider the other resume formats we suggest as chronological alternatives or hybrids.
Resume profile example: command their attention
You may know your police officer resume profile section as a summary, but your profile should do more than just summarize your public safety career. It commands attention with its placement right at the top of your document and should exemplify your career.
This section should tell your future employer why you would be a great fit for the department and intrigue them enough to read on. Do that by highlighting your greatest law enforcement achievement and your passion for public safety and security.
Police officers must present as authority figures who know how to speak to crime victims during high-stress times, but also as quick-thinking respondents to emergency calls.Your profile should demonstrate this using one or two anecdotes and well-placed, strong adjectives that describe your style in dealing with the public and your fellow officers.
Guidelines for your summary
This may be the toughest section to write. We offer profile resume example text below, but here is an outline you can use as a guide:
- Introduce yourself with a strong professional description and the unique talents you bring to the job. Include one or two sentences on how you approach conflicts or a situation you successfully dealt with.
- Add one sentence on your proudest achievement or crime-fighting statistics that demonstrate your effective policing techniques.
Use this police officer resume example text to give you a starting point for your summary.
Experienced and dedicated Police Officer with a commitment to increasing safety, saving lives, and lowering crime rates. Over seven years of experience with serving citizens, responding to crime scenes and accidents, and conducting routine monitoring. Adept in crisis intervention techniques and high-risk situation protocols. Proven track record of excelling at keeping citizens safe, with several Employee of the Month nominations for my strong and unrelenting work ethic. Excellent communication, interrogation, and interpersonal skills.
Police officer employment history resume sample
In the employment history section of your police officer resume, which most likely will be organized in reverse chronological order, stick to the facts without flourishes such as adjectives or space-wasters such as “I was responsible for.” Detail your job responsibilities and achievements in direct, simple language.
First, compile a list of all the jobs you have had that relate to public safety, as a security guard, for example. Consider your responsibilities and achievements in each position. Then, as you begin to write, focus on the outcomes of your actions and the problems you solved. Consider the skills you learned on the job and try to show increasing knowledge and ability to resolve more difficult situations. Again, no need to use "I", simply begin with a strong verb that describes your actions on the job. Use each bullet point to list a new, distinct skill or achievement.
Get strong with your words
Here are some choice verbs to use when compiling your work experience section:
You can find resume example text for a police officer employment history section below.
Police Officer at Westchester County Police, Hawthorne, NY
September 2006 - Present
- Perform foot and vehicle patrols of my assigned areas to ensure the safety and rights of citizens.
- Investigate criminal activity and collaborate with other assigned workers to collect information, interpret the situation, and respond appropriately.
- Act quickly in emergency situations and use expert judgment to proceed accordingly.
- Work with culturally diverse populations and serve as a protector of all.
- Identify and arrest perpetrators of criminal acts.
- Supervise five employees and educate them on key issues.
Police Officer at Duchess County Sheriff Department, Poughkeepsie, NY
August 2001 - September 2006
- Patrolled city streets, neighborhoods, and businesses to ensure safety and compliance with laws.
- Worked both independently and on a team to solve problems.
- Wrote citations and made arrests when necessary.
- Completed thorough reports of recorded incidents.
- Searched homes and vehicles when necessary.
- Answered radio calls and served as a first responder to emergency scenes.
- Participated in crime prevention practices.
- Worked to mediate disturbances.
- Responded to multiple bank alarms and followed designated protocols.
Resume skills example: target your talent
A great skills section in a police officer resume illuminates your key abilities and makes them easy for hiring managers to see (and for the ATS to scan, so match up these skills with the job description) in a separate column or highlighted section.
While you may want to focus on your knowledge of the law, first aid and tactics, remember that police need qualities that command respect within the community as well. As you winnow your list to 5-7 top attributes, make sure you consider soft skills such as integrity, communication, compassion and empathy.
Below is police officer resume sample text for your skills section.
- Crime Prevention
- Search and Seizure Laws
- Firearms and Weapons Knowledge
- Drug Laws Enforcement
- Undercover Operations
Police officer resume education example
The education section of a police officer resume is a listing of all your degrees and certifications. Many police departments require only a high school diploma, however, many officers have higher education degrees and/or extensive training in specific aspects of policing.
In fact, about one-third of police officers have a bachelor’s degree, 25 percent have two-year degrees, and a little more than 6 percent have master’s degrees, according to DataUSA. If you have completed the police academy and are looking for your first job, add that completion here as well as any other training you are working on or have completed.
You may use the police officer resume sample text below as a formatting guide.
Basic Course- Intensive, Police Academy of New York, New York
August 1999 — June 2001
Bachelor of Criminal Justice, Manhattan College, New York
August 1995 - May 1999
Resume layout and design: ready for inspection
The goal of any resume is to get you that interview. No matter how extensive your experience is, first visual impressions count. That’s why the layout and design of your police officer resume must be reader-friendly, clean and eye-catching without veering into flashiness.
Use these pointers as a guide.
- Try choosing a sans serif type such as Arial or Calibri for display text and a serif type such as Garamond or Constantia for your descriptions. Or try the opposite.
- Proofread carefully to avoid an spelling, grammatical, or punctuation errors or choose an online resume builder that includes a spellcheck function
- Create white space by varying your line lengths
- If you spill over to a second page, try not to break up sections
- Consider using one of our expertly-designed resume templates to simplify the design process.
The first data a recruiter will look for are your contact information, your current and previous job titles and employers, and your section headings. If they can’t find those, you greatly decrease your chances of getting that coveted interview.
Key takeaways for a police officer resume
- Being a police officer can be a high-stress job, but offers opportunity to help the public.
- Target each position by adjusting your resume sample to match employer requirements,
- While tactical skills are important, a great police officer resume also focuses on soft skills.
- Use the online resume maker as a way to make your life easier and the job application process - faster.