10 Resume Tips for Rookie Cops From Experienced Cops

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1. 10 Resume Tips for Rookie Cops From Experienced Cops
2. Ready To Make a Police Resume?

May is not just a month of spring showers and warming weather. It is also a time when people come together to celebrate those in law enforcement. National Police Week occurs during the calendar week of May 15. Thousands gather in Washington, D.C., to honor past and present law enforcement officers’ service to communities in the United States.

In the spirit of this national event, there is no time like the present to pursue a profession in the police force. To break into this field, however, you need to set yourself apart from other rookies. Fortunately, we have 10 tips from veterans in law enforcement to help you create an impressive resume.

10 Resume Tips for Rookie Cops From Experienced Cops


1. Keep It Concise


In most industries, entry-level jobseekers should craft short and concise resumes. In some cases, a two-page document is acceptable (more on that in the next point). However, a single-page resume is often most appropriate. This rule generally applies to rookies as well. “As a rookie, you have limited relevant work experience,” says Dan Silva, a New Jersey police officer of 10 years. “Show respect for the hiring manager’s time by keeping your document succinct.”

2. Follow Directions


Some police departments require candidates to meet many prerequisites. Therefore, a posting for an open position may include a long list of instructions regarding your resume’s content.

“If you have to use multiple pages in your document to follow these directions, do it,” says Silva. “Hiring panels look to see whether rookie cops included everything necessary in their resumes. They usually care more about this than receiving one-page documents.”

Stick with point #1 unless the job post suggests otherwise. Remember that less is more, but don’t take this concept too far.

In other words, stick with point #1 unless the job post suggests otherwise. Remember that less is more, but don’t take this concept too far.

3. Avoid Exaggeration


Jobseekers across all industries sometimes feel the need to exaggerate or fib on their resume. This is a mistake no matter what job you pursue. However, Silva warns that it is a worse blunder for cops.

“Honesty and integrity are of paramount importance in this profession,” he states. “If you are untruthful in your resume, the department may believe you lack these traits and immediately remove you from the list of possible candidates.”

4. Focus on Font and Format


“Law enforcement is a traditional field. We are cops, not graphic designers,” relates Timothy Bromhead, another veteran cop. He recommends rookie cops leave out logos, graphics, and color in their resumes.

“We are cops, not graphic designers.”

“Use a professional font, a conservative format, and a lot of bullet points,” he urges. Keep in mind that a traditional layout can still grab attention. Use a pertinent resume template to make your document professional but interesting.

5. Illuminate the Right Proficiencies


What proficiencies should you emphasize in your resume? “Cops interact with people every day and frequently write reports,” says Bromhead. “Illuminate skills in both written and verbal communication.”

In his resume, Bromhead identified his physical fitness, critical-thinking abilities, and problem-solving skills as well. “Remember that cops often view each other as family. We have to work together, so talents in teamwork are also essential,” he declares.Resume Facts and Tips for Rookie Cops

6. Emphasize Education or Military Experience


“Back in my day, it was unnecessary to have any advanced education,” Bromhead recalls. “Today, rookie cops face a different screening process.”

Although many police departments do not require candidates to possess a formal degree, Bromhead believes that supervisors tend to favor candidates with at least an associate’s degree.

Although many police departments do not require candidates to possess a formal degree, Bromhead believes that supervisors tend to favor candidates with at least an associate’s degree. “If you have prior military experience, mention that as well,” he encourages.

7. Make Your Experience Relevant


“Before joining the force, I was a beach lifeguard and a fast-food chain cashier,” remembers Keith Johnson, a police officer with over 25 years of experience. “I had to find ways to relate those positions to a cop’s job.”

In his resume, Johnson discussed critical thinking in high-risk situations and prioritizing people’s safety in his descriptions of lifeguarding. He described communicating, following orders, and resolving conflicts as a cashier.

Follow his example by finding ways to connect previous roles to a police officer position. Look at the job description. Consider the ways that your past jobs may fulfill some soft skill requirements. Include these capabilities in your rookie cop resume.

8. Set Yourself Apart With Accomplishments


Employment of police officers should grow by 7% by 2026. This is a similar growth rate to the average for all occupations and suggests that new jobs will arise in the next few years. However, an industry that consistently offers open positions also often sees many jobseekers vying for each spot.

“To stand out among other rookie cops, write about noteworthy accomplishments.”

“To stand out among other rookie cops, write about noteworthy accomplishments,” recommends Johnson. “Did you graduate in the top of your class or receive recognition for leadership in past jobs? Hiring supervisors will notice these achievements.”

9. Discuss Community Involvement


Community involvement is another qualification hiring panels may notice. “Many departments emphasize the importance of police-community relationships,” notes Johnson. “Show that you already value participating with your community. This may give you an edge over competing rookies who lack such qualifications.”

Including your experience with athletic leagues, youth mentorship programs, and homeless shelter volunteer work can all help to spruce up your resume.

10. Put Effort Into Editing


“Do not allow something as silly as a spelling error cost you the job,” cautions Johnson. “Rookie cops need to present professional documents with no spelling or grammar mistakes to ensure departments take them seriously.”

“Do not allow something as silly as a spelling error cost you the job.”

Before you submit your resume, proofread every section in your document. Do not rely on spellcheck tools alone. Read your document out loud to yourself to try to find and fix every error. Then ask your family, friends, or peers to peruse your document as well.

Ready To Make a Police Resume?



Applying for a police officer position requires a lot of effort. Dedicate time to the resume-writing process and follow these 10 tips. With our advice, you can use your document to help yourself shine above the other rookie cops contending for the job.

Do you need more guidance in crafting the perfect resume? Turn to our customizable resume builder. This tool offers industry-specific text examples and easy-to-follow steps to help you tailor your document to the job.