A new year, a new look at your police resume.

Need a new year’s resolution?  Don’t resolve to update your resume – just update it.  The resolutions will follow.

The new year is an excellent time to comb over your police career and educational accomplishments – regardless of whether or not you are looking for a new career or new assignment.  When updated regularly, resumes can provide greater benefit than many realize.

I am frequently asked to help coworkers create or update their resumes.  More often than not this will be someone with decades of service who has decided to move on to something else.  Unfortunately, too often this is also someone who has done little in the way of separating themselves from others.  The worst time to confront this reality is while seeking other employment or specialized assignments within your agency.

Law enforcement resumes are not easy.  Many of us cringe at the thought of updating one, much less creating one from scratch.  What is the point if we are not looking for work?  For those who decide to explore other opportunities, starting from square one can be a painful experience.  However, nothing makes it more painful than reflecting on your past only to find little in the way of accomplishments that would attract employers.

Among the worst resume mistakes LEOs can make is to list duties or responsibilities rather than accomplishments or contributions.  By repeating your job description you are doing yourself an incredible disservice.

Occasionally poring over your resume helps you reflect not only on your past work, but on your future work – even if you have no plans to change jobs.  The time to reflect on your law enforcement accomplishments is not when you decide to seek other work, but rather throughout your career.   By occasionally looking over your resume you are able to examine your successes and goals and, more importantly, take action if you are not satisfied.

Deciding to work on your resume now will automatically conjure a very useful question – what have I done to stand out?  Thankfully, if you are not happy with the answer to that question, it will become – what can I do to stand out?  What contributions can I make for the year ahead?  What can I take on?  What can I accomplish?  Next year, when you make your annual update, you may find you have more positive attributes to add.

Resolve to contribute more to this noble profession in 2014.  Update your resume.  Or create one.  It may help reinforce a continued sense of purpose in your career.  At the very least, it will give you some inspiration.