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Land the job: Preparing your resume for a chief’s position

Your resume is the first impression potential employers have of you; here are 10 tips on crafting a standout application


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Your resume is the first impression potential employers have of you. It’s crucial to ensure it effectively showcases your skills and experiences, especially in the competitive field of law enforcement.

In a recent session at the International Association of Chiefs of Police conference, Jessie Lee, Ph.D., law enforcement executive, senior advisor and strategy consultant, shared invaluable insights on crafting a standout resume when applying to become police chief.

Here are his 10 key takeaways to consider:

1. Tailor each resume to the agency

Every agency is unique, and your resume should reflect an understanding of their specific needs and values. Conduct thorough research on the agency you’re applying to and customize your resume accordingly.

2. One size does not fit all

Avoid using a generic, one-size-fits-all resume. Tailor each resume to match the requirements and expectations of the position you’re seeking.

3. Align with job descriptions

Carefully study the job description and ensure your resume highlights experiences and skills that align with the KSAs mentioned.

4. Emphasize relevant experience

If the position requires executive or command experience, focus on showcasing those experiences prominently. Tailor your resume to emphasize the qualifications most relevant to the role.

5. Prioritize education

If education is a key requirement, place it at the forefront of your resume. Highlight any relevant degrees, certifications or training that make you a strong candidate.

6. Customize, don’t overwhelm

While it’s great to have a detailed, 10-page resume, use it as a resource to selectively include experiences that directly relate to the job. This approach saves time and ensures your resume remains focused.

7. Highlight progression

As you progress in your career, shift the emphasis from patrol duties to command-level responsibilities. Showcase leadership, decision-making and mentoring experiences.

8. Quantify achievements

Provide concrete numbers to demonstrate your impact. For instance, if you mentored a significant number of individuals, specify how many and note their subsequent career advancements.

9. Address setbacks proactively

If you’ve experienced setbacks or challenges, address them proactively. Explain how you overcame them and emphasize the lessons learned, showcasing your resilience and adaptability.

10. Education and leadership training

Continuously invest in your education and leadership training. Seek out opportunities for professional development and highlight any executive-level schools or courses you’ve completed.


By tailoring your resume to the specific agency, emphasizing relevant experiences and showcasing your professional growth, you’ll stand out as a top candidate.

Police1 is using generative AI to create some content that is edited and fact-checked by our editors.

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Nancy Perry is Editor-in-Chief of Police1 and Corrections1, responsible for defining original editorial content, tracking industry trends, managing expert contributors and leading the execution of special coverage efforts.

Prior to joining Lexipol in 2017, Nancy served as an editor for emergency medical services publications and communities for 22 years, during which she received a Jesse H. Neal award. In 2022, she was honored with the prestigious G.D. Crain Award at the annual Jesse H. Neal Awards Ceremony. She has a bachelor’s degree in English Literature from the University of Sussex in England and a master’s degree in Professional Writing from the University of Southern California. Ask questions or submit ideas to Nancy by e-mailing