Table of Contents
As you continue to read, you’ll learn about each section of a resume and the order in which they should appear, the best way to highlight your particular skills and qualifications to bring them to life, and common mistakes to avoid.
Examples will be provided for complex or unfamiliar concepts, and you can use these tips on fine-tuning your resume to help you stand out from the crowd.
What to Include in an Investigator Resume
For one, investigators are used in many industries, including the insurance, law enforcement, and the corporate sectors. Not to mention, each individual investigator will have a different education level, set of certifications, and overall career path.
You’ll be taking the factors above into consideration to write your own unique document that lets a potential employer see you as a candidate who meets all the qualifications listed on their job description.
But while the specific nature of the information you may include in a resume varies extensively, the way you lay out the facts do not. Just as every case you work on starts with basic information and culminates in a solid case, so too will your resume take shape one step at a time, beginning with the basic structure.
As you review investigator resume samples, you’ll notice certain consistencies in the three most prevalent formats: chronological, functional and combination.
The chronological style is the most common and most familiar to potential employers and is usually used by job seekers who have relevant, consistent employment and who are following a traditional career path. The recommended sections for this style resume are:
- Contact info (name/phone/email)
- Resume summary
- Work experience
If you have some work experience that’s unrelated to investigative work, gaps in employment, or you’re looking for a career change, the functional style might serve you well. Instead of focusing on a date-ordered list of previous employers, this style allows you to list your career accomplishments without linking them to an employer. This is achieved by inserting a new Accomplishments section between your resume summary and work experience sections.
If you’ve found aspects of both formats that you’d like to use, feel free to create your own combination style. Just be careful not to repeat yourself. Every word should lead to new information.
How to Write the Investigator Resume Summary Statement
Basic guidelines for writing a concise summary statement include:
- The summary should be no more than 2-3 statements
- If at all possible, the statements should be structured to describe a problem, your solution, and the positive result
- Incomplete sentences are preferred over complete ones, and first-person pronouns aren’t used in a resume
- The summary should concisely sum up your qualifications, greatest accomplishments and how you can add value to the employer
The investigator resume samples you’ve already identified should provide informative resume summaries for your examination, and below you’ll find two additional examples to help set the tone:
Experienced investigator with over 10 years in the retail sector conducting background investigations, in-house surveillance, and tracking and prosecuting corruption involved in the misdirection of inventory. Recovered 75 percent of loss in restitution. Currently working in a corporate setting with primary focus on industrial espionage as it relates to the security of company laboratories and executive protection as a result of threats from environmental extremists.
Insurance investigator with 15 years experience investigating questionable claims for injuries or damage. Conducted surveillance of claimants and provided photographic evidence of fraud. Interviewed witnesses and prepared internal pre-prosecution reports for legal department. Potential dollars saved by exposing insurance fraud last year totaled an estimated $1.5M.
How to Write the Investigator Work Experience Section
The chronological style focuses on your uninterrupted work history, which you worked for and when, and what you did. An entry in this style in the work history section includes your job title, the company your worked for, your employment dates and 3-5 bullet points highlighting your responsibilities and achievements. It should look something like this:
Investigator, Corporate Security
Global Enterprises – New York, NY
January 2011 to February 2016
- Updated Security Vulnerability Assessments for all 15 labs in a 10 state area
- Negotiated a national contract with a tier I security firm
- Investigated bidding process for irregularities resulting in overhaul of entire process
The functional style uncouples your previous employers from your career accomplishments so you can focus on what you’ve done instead of whom you did it for. By adding a new Accomplishments section after your resume summary, you can list at least 6-8 bullet points highlighting your responsibilities and successes. Be sure to reference the potential employer’s job description so you can effectively (and honestly) mirror their requirements.
Once you’ve completed this new section, you can move on to the now skeletal work experience section which will be a simple list of previous relevant employment. There’s no need to include dates, which will avoid drawing attention to employment gaps.
If you’ve decided to write a combination style resume, refer to the investigator resume samples for inspiration.
Action Verbs to Include in Your Investigator Work Experience Section
A quick scan of investigator resume samples will probably provide you with more.
How to Write the Investigator Skills Section
Here’s a possible breakdown of investigative skills for you to consider, but keep in mind that they have to describe the employee the hiring manager wants, so make this section your own.
- Strong written communication
- Ability to conduct in depth interviews
- First aide/CPR
- Expertise in computer searches, background checks
- Photographic equipment and its use day or night
- Understanding of complex security systems
- Self-defense training
For ideas on how to format the skills section, see investigator resume samples.
How to Write the Investigator Education Section
Whether you’re working on your degree or you’ve already graduated, your highest level of education should be listed first in this area. The information should include the school attended, school location, and degree obtained. If you’re currently in school, use the qualifier Ã¢â‚¬Å“in progress.Ã¢â‚¬
Beyond degrees in criminal justice or police science, degrees in accounting, computer science, and computer forensics are also viewed as favorable areas of expertise. Not to mention, Continuing education, even if you already have a degree, will give you an edge, especially if you’ve taken courses relevant to the industry, like:
- Property crimes
- Presentation of evidence
- Emergency management
- Computer crimes
You may also want to include a sub-heading of Certifications/Licenses/Memberships; this will allow the potential employer to easily confirm that you hold a license to practice in the state. If you’re applying for a position that requires you to carry a handgun, this is the section where you would provide the document number for that approval.
Other certifications you may want to list or pursue if you haven’t already are:
- Certified Legal Investigator, by the National Association of Legal Investigators
- Professional Certified investigator certification, by ASIS International
Take a look at the investigator resume samples for additional ideas and format suggestions.
Should I Include References in my Investigator Resume
- Knowing for sure the employer is interested when they make the request
- Being able to let you references know to be expecting a call
- Asking them to let you know when they’ve been contacted and how it went
Your references should include 3-4 prior managers or employers with whom you had a good relationship. As a private investigator, you may have clients that were very satisfied with your work who, for their own reasons, want the relationship kept confidential, and you need to respect that. If you’ve worked in the corporate sector or in insurance, you should have no problem identifying supervisors or peers to be references.
Investigator Resume Fails: Mistakes to Avoid
- As an investigator, you’ve had to document your activities and prepare pre-prosecution reports. You understand the importance of accuracy. Your resume is no less important, so make sure you proofread it more than once, and if you can, have someone else read it before you submit it. Mistakes don’t speak well of you.
- Figure out a way to describe your accomplishments without violating a confidentiality agreement. Your reputation is critical to your success, and sharing inappropriate information on your resume will make a potential employer leery of trusting you.
- The purpose of your resume is to pique the employer’s interest so they’ll call you for an interview. If your resume is more than two pages long and loaded with dense paragraphs, they’re likely not to read it all the way through. A good rule of thumb, if you have to cut it down, is to eliminate information that the employer isn’t looking for.
- You don’t have to list every job you’ve ever had. Most employers view only the last 10-15 years as relevant. By sticking to this representation of you work experience, you’ll keep your resume to two pages, and you’ll avoid possible age discrimination that you’d never be aware of.
Job Prospects in the Investigator Industry
The Bureau of Labor Statistics projects employment growth for all occupations for the period of 2014 to 2024 to be at 7 percent. Below are projections for different sectors of the investigator industry:
The employment of private detectives and investigators is projected to grow slightly slower than the average, at 5 percent. Ongoing demand for investigative services will continue with the rise in cyber crimes, identity theft, and credit card fraud, leading to opportunities in the legal services industry. Experience conducting background checks will provide an edge because of the ongoing need by both employers and individuals. If you’re retiring from the military or from law enforcement and looking for an investigator job, familiarity with computers and strong interviewing skills will help make you competitive.
Employment of police and detectives is projected to grow 4 percent for the same time period. While there is an ongoing desire for police services to maintain and improve public safety, job prospects will be largely driven by local and state budgets. Those job seekers who are bilingual and have a bachelor’s degree or law enforcement or military experience should have the best job opportunities.
Employment of examiners, claims adjusters, appraisers and investigators in the insurance industry is expected to grow slower than the average for all occupations, with a projected growth rate of 3 percent.