Whether it's your dream to become a beat cop working with people on the street, or a detective who investigates complicated cases, the first step in the process is getting an employer interested in you as a job candidate. Often this process involves applying for jobs that are already posted, but when you have a specific organization with which you want to work, another option is to send out a letter of intent that states your desire to work there. Even if an organization is not currently hiring, writing this type of letter could demonstrate the initiative and pluck that the employer is looking for.
Review the job description for the position, if there is one. Even if the organization for which you want to work is not currently hiring, it may post job descriptions and minimum requirements for law enforcement positions on its website. Make note of any special skills or qualities that the organization is looking for. Many law enforcement positions will require you to have some level of physical ability, as well as skills in firearms, communication, mathematics and administrative tasks, but it may also require other skills specific to the job. For example, a detective position may require investigative skills, or a forensics expert may need a background in the sciences.
Brainstorm a list of the skills you possess that match the skills needed for the job. Write down everything you can think of, or ask a close friend or family member to toss out a few words to describe you. This can help you come up with a creative description of yourself when it's time to actually write the cover letter.
Address the letter to the hiring manager or the human resources department of the organization to which you want to apply. Under the name, type the person's job title, and then include the organization's address under that.
State clearly in the first paragraph that you're writing to express your intent to work with the organization. No need to beat around the bush; when you're writing an unsolicited letter, the addressee is going to want to know why you're contacting him. In that first sentence, also state the job or jobs you're interested in.
Give one or two compelling reasons why you feel you would be a good candidate for any openings in the second sentence. For example, you could say something like "I feel my decorated career and my extensive experience would make me a great candidate." You want to give the addressee some reason to keep reading, so make the opening paragraph really pack a punch.
Start a new paragraph, and then detail some of your most attractive qualities. Remember the research you did in the first two steps to highlight the qualities that the organization is looking for that also match your own qualities. You'll want to include your resume along with this letter, which will include the dates and details of your past employment and training, so there's no need to repeat that information here. Instead, you'll be able to give some examples of how that experience and training make you a great candidate. Don't be afraid to refer directly to the organization's job description; for example, you could say something like "I know your organization values expert marksmen. In my past position, I was known as the best shooter in the force." Detail a few of your best qualities in this paragraph, or break it into several paragraphs, if need be.
Create a new paragraph that details some of your biggest accomplishments in past jobs. Again, refer to the job description or job listing for ideas about what the organization's values. If the organization is focused on youth, for example, detail cases that have included young people. Create a bullet point list of well-known cases you've worked on, or cases in which you've seen a successful outcome.
State your desired time frame in the last paragraph. If you're currently in a law enforcement training program, tell the addressee when you're graduating. If you're leaving your current job, state when you'll be available for a new job. Following that, ask the addressee to take some type of action as a follow-up, or tell her how you'll follow up. Ask her to call you at a certain time of day, or tell her that you'll be contacting her at a certain time. If the addressee is interested, she may just do what you ask.
- If you state a time frame in which you'll follow up with the employer, be sure to actually follow up within that time frame.
Nicole Vulcan has been a journalist since 1997, covering parenting and fitness for The Oregonian, careers for CareerAddict, and travel, gardening and fitness for Black Hills Woman and other publications. Vulcan holds a Bachelor of Arts in English and journalism from the University of Minnesota. She's also a lifelong athlete and is pursuing certification as a personal trainer.