One of the fundamental documents utilized in the police promotional process is your professional resume, however, there is nothing fundamental about constructing an effective one. Your professional resume is significant in a number of ways. It serves as an illustration of who you are and what you have done, but more importantly, creates the first impression-good or bad-of your ability and readiness to promote to the higher ranks within your organization. If you were to think of your professional career as a movie, your resume would serve as the preview. Resumes require great attention to detail. They must be absolutely free of mistakes and the content must be crafted specifically for the position you are vying for. Naturally, the content of your resume is paramount, however, its aesthetic appeal is also highly important, in that the formatting, style, font, spacing, and use of varied print (bold, underlined, italics) achieves visual written symmetry.
While the art and technique of writing a resume can fill a book, her are a few insider tips to answer common resume questions.
- Can a resume be longer than two pages? Of course, but only if there is a real need. Cut out fluff, repetition, and minutia and all the training courses that have no link to your new position. Be concise and summarize, covering the highlights, not the details. Less is more.
- Candidates turn in their resumes printed on quality paper. The nice resume is copied and placed in the officer’s personnel file. The cheap Xerox copies are provided to the oral panel. To avoid this, turn in at least four copies on the quality paper so the panel gets the best version.
- Stick with bright white, off-white (bone, eggshell, ivory, etc.), or light tan colored paper. Use 24-32 pound grade that is 100% cotton or linen finish paper.
- Use underlined, bolded, and slightly increased font sizes to add punch to portions of your resume, but don’t overdue it. Include periods at the end of bulleted lists when they are written in sentence form. Think clean, concise, and simple. Don’t use clipart or gimmicky graphics. Concise bulleted lists are preferred over lengthy paragraphs.
- For in-house promotions, there is no reason to include your home address, phone numbers, or email addresses unless directed to do so. This information is for entry-level personnel. The oral interview panel will not call or write to you and Human Resources already has this information.
- For the purpose of clarity, ease of reading, and resume space, avoid unnecessary wordy phrases. Consider replacing “in order to” or “so as to” with “to.” Replace “due to the fact that” or “for the reason that” with “because.” Replace “by means of” or “through the use of” with “by” or “with.” Replace “at this time” or “at this point in time” with “now” or “currently.”
- Use a single concise sentence to illustrate what your primary objective is. “Promotion to Sergeant” or “To provide outstanding leadership as a Lieutenant for the Los Angeles Police Department” or similar variation will be sufficient. Avoid large cerebral words or descriptions that are obviously intended for show and not content: “To introduce my value-driven leadership persona to the ever-changing paradigms of the 21st-century law enforcement workplace.” Wordy and over-written sentences like this are not only ineffective, but will also be viewed negatively.
Let this information serve as an introductory springboard to self-directed learning in how to make your resume dynamic and representative of a professional. Test well!