Getting Into Federal Law Enforcement
I've seen some post on federal vs local law enforcement (LE), etc on various social media groups I'm associated with and wanted to blog about the federal process. Here's some info on the federal side based on my experiences with it and some suggestions on getting into the system.
1. You don't necessarily require LE / Mil experience to be a fed. Does it help, yes. Do some agencies go after people with this background more than others, yes. Depending upon the agency and how bad they need people, meeting the requirements could suffice. Character is key here.
2. If you want to be a fed, chances are you're not going to be working the same place you applied at and will have to move every few years. This is not all agencies as some will let you homestead, however more often than not, most people start with an agency that moves around first and later transfers to one that doesn't.
3. If you really want to be a fed LEO, apply, apply, apply. By all means, apply for the agencies you like and hope you get it, but apply for all agencies you can bear (see 8). Its easier to move between agencies as a fed LEO than coming from the outside. Plus once you're on the fed retirement system, your time in service and leave accrual move with you.
4. When applying go through USAJobs (https://www.usajobs.gov/) and have a good government resume ready. Agencies post KSAs (knowledge, skills, and abilities) on their announcements, which details the requirements for the position. If you don't meet the KSAs, you won't move on. Either find other federal resumes and free articles on the subject to write your own federal resume, or hire a professional to write one for you (https://www.resume-place.com/). For fed LE, search for job codes 0083 (police officer) or 1811 (special agent). Lastly be honest on all your applications. None of us are saints and if you lie, it will be found out. If you're caught lying, your done for good and I know that goes for local agencies as well. Don't even extend the truth.
5. If you try and don't succeed, try, try again. Every application, interview, form you fill out, etc. is a learning experience. You will fail multiple times (the majority will) before getting picked up. If you fail once and that agency post a job a year later, apply again. They might have more positions and reapplying shows you really want the job. I would also say if you are reapply, be able to show some improvement between the first time you applied and the second time. For example, "since the last time I applied, I started on my master's program" "I got EMT certified" and so forth. Showing growth goes a long way.
6. When you go for an interview, dress to impress. I've seen guys come in with jeans and a shirt; they don't get past the door. Suits and ties for men and business formal for women (we have plenty of options on www.TacticallySuited.com :-). I know a shameless plug, but I had to throw that in there lol.) Be honest above all in the interview and answer to the best of your ability. If you don't know something, say it. Then say you will research it and get back (definitely get back with the answer). At the end of the interview ask how you did and where you can improve. Criticism is a hard crow to eat sometimes, but it makes us better. Don't get upset if some things are negative, learn from it and move on. You get more respect when you want to improve yourself.
7. Promptness. Whether its arriving early (15-20 mins is good, anything more is excessive. Sit in your car and wait if you're earlier), turning in paperwork before deadlines, etc.; always do it as quick as possible without compromising quality product. Showing you really want the job and going out of your way means a lot. The quality and completeness are also rated, remember, police work is very detail oriented.
8. Learn everything you can about the agency you are applying to. The history, the structure, what they do, everything. Ask to speak with people working there to get an idea of the day to day operation. Get a tour of their facilities (if possible). If you're a college student, see if they have an internship or shadowing program. Not only does this show you're serious, it also lets you know if you really want to work there.
9. Liaison. The ability to get to know people is very important in law enforcement. If you know someone that's in federal LE, worked with someone, or even a friend of a friend; try to make that contact. While the selection process does not allow for favorites and people are ranked by qualifications, the recommendation of someone already in that agency could be a deciding factor of two people are evenly scored. Later on when you're in the system these relationships are vital not just to help with your job, but to hear about vacancies as well. Some agencies can direct hire an existing federal LE depending upon certain circumstances.
10. Honesty. Above all else, never compromise your integrity and honesty. I've mentioned this earlier, but it deserves its own line and the last line at that. Without integrity, you will never be a LEO, anywhere, period.
Best of luck - Tom
About the Author:
Tom Mulhall is the owner and president of Tactically Suited LLC, a suit company designed for law enforcement; and is an civilian 1811 Special Agent for the Air Force Office of Special Investigation (AFOSI) specializing in fraud. Prior to AFOSI Tom worked for the Navy Exchange Command under the Department of the Navy for 11 years as a Loss Prevention / Safety Manager and 6 years working loss prevention in the private sector for Best Buy, Ross, and Lowe's. Tom holds a Bachelor's in Computer Studies from the University of Maryland University College and a Mater's in Criminal Justice Administration with a concentration in Forensic Science. Tom's hobbies include martial arts, computers, hiking, and traveling. He can be reached at Thomas.Mulhall@TacticallySuited.com