Law Enforcement Jobs:
What skills should you mention in your resume?
(Answer: maybe not so many)
Founder, Action Resumes—Pentagon
We’ve all been there.
You spot a job posting and see a few basic requirements. Sounds good!
You thought it went without saying these days that you could handle those
things; but since they’re written down, you figure that you should probably
throw them on your resume, too—just so there’s no doubt about what you can do.
And you do it without thinking twice.
And that’s where you go wrong.
Those basic skills aren’t listed there as a test to make sure you’re paying
attention, but rather because they’re not as basic as you might think.
Take these three for example—you and the hiring manager probably have very
different ideas of what they entail when they’re included in the job
1. Microsoft Office:
For example, when the job announcement says they want someone who knows
Microsoft Office, sometimes this hiring requirement gets listed as “proficient
in Microsoft Office,” or as “fluent in Microsoft Word, Excel, and PowerPoint.”
You think this means:
that I know how to type a Word doc, insert rows in
Excel, and add a few clever little animations to what might otherwise be a
boring slide presentation in PowerPoint.
Hiring Managers think it means
that you can merge mail documents, build
formulae in Excel, and create time-saving “rules” in Outlook, and other
complicated actions you may not have even heard of. In 2016, such fundamental
computer skills are expected, in view of the increasing advance of technology,
the integration of online management systems, and the nature of email.
Sure, during the technology boom in the early 2000s, an employee who could
navigate Excel was considered well above average, but now the expectation is
that you know Microsoft Office—far beyond your ability to navigate the toolbar
How to learn this skill: Companies are looking for employees who will take these
skills to the next level with the use of pivot tables, VLOOKUPs, and macros to
facilitate daily business, depending on the role and industry.
If your eyes instantly begin to glaze over with the mention of these integrated
Microsoft capabilities, consider taking a quick class to brush up on your skills
or play around in the programs during your free time to see how else they can be
Check out Udemy’s free PowerPoint training tutorial or its Excel “From 0 to
Working Professional in 1 Hour” and see how quickly you learn the systems you’ve
got listed on your resume.
2. Social Media proficiency:
Also called “social media outlets,” “social media marketing,” “social media
savvy,” this is a skill you think that everyone who’s got any kind of online
presence must have. And that certainly includes you. So you put it on your
You think it means:
that I’m on Facebook and Instagram and know how to
use Twitter and Snapchat. No question about it—I’m up to speed here.
Hiring managers assume:
That you can manage several social media
accounts, build brand voices for each one, read and analyze data and run paid
marketing campaigns. Today, social media management is respected as its own
career field so it shouldn’t be listed on your resume unless you have real work
experience using it.
While it’s OK to note that you’re using popular platforms to build your personal
brand and network, don’t make the mistake of thinking a hiring manager is going
to be impressed with your ability to tweet a witty response to the world topic
of the day.
How to Actually Learn it:
Expand on your social media skill set by
learning more about analytics, reading up on content marketing, and
familiarizing yourself with management tools like Hootsuite and Zoho.
3. Foreign language skills:
You studied abroad in Barcelona a few years ago. While there, you learned to
converse a little in Spanish—enough to order a meal. You’ve got no use for the
Spanish skills now, though—so it’s rusty, at best. But you figure it’s worth
listing on your resume. Uh, maybe not.
You Think This Means:
You think this means you know another language! You
wouldn’t exactly call yourself bi-lingual, but the hiring manager is going to
see Spanish and be impressed. So you put it down.
What the Hiring Manager Assumes:
That you’re fluent. That your competence
level goes above and beyond saying "Hello, how are you, my name is." If needed,
you could carry on an entire conversation in your second language—and you could
write a report and email in Spanish as well.
How to Learn This Skill:
There’s no easy way around this. If you want to
list proficiency in a second language on your resume, you’re going to have to be
confident about your abilities to speak and write fluently. Knowledge of basic
verb tenses and remembering a few words such as coffee, country, or beer isn’t
enough. Take a class, then another one, buy Rosetta Stone or another reputable
learning tool, and get to work.
My advice: until you start dreaming in the language you’re thinking of putting
down on your resume, don’t even think about including it. There’s no point in
listing items just to list them or because you believe that’s what needs to be
To position yourself as the best candidate for the role, you want to only
include bullet points you can stand behind. It’s good to realize what employers
and their HR recruiters think these phrases mean, not just what you hopefully
think they mean. Because even if you get through the interview process, you’ll
eventually come face-toface with the skill in question. And then you’ll have a
lot of explaining to do.
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