USCBP Federal Resumes

How to Write a Customs and
Border Protection Officer Federal Resume
Emily K. Troutman, MPP, CFJST / CFCC

August 19, 2019


U.S. Customs and Border Protection is looking to hire for frontline careers but are struggling to help qualified applicants get through the application process.

Many candidates are qualified and cannot get into the system because their resumes don’t adequately describe their qualifications. Applicants must understand: federal resumes are not the same as private industry resumes.

CBP jobs are often “career ladder” positions, where new hires can rise very quickly in the ranks. During their first year, a new hire can earn between $33,9949 and $78,949, based on which geographic region they are in and how much overtime they earn. After good performance for four years, the same employee can earn between $74,596 and $119,596. Unlike private industry, where pay fluctuates and can’t be predicted, these pay raises are standard and automatic based on good performance.

USCBP IS HIRING !!!! You can get to the next hiring phase if you are able to show your skills and qualifications in a federal-compliant resume. UPDATE: As of 8/19/2019, there are many Border Patrol Agent / Supervisor positions posted. There are also many Border Patrol Officer positions posted.


What is the difference between a CBP Officer and a Border Patrol Agent?

Customs and Border Protection has two popular career paths: Border Patrol Agent and CBP Officer. Both positions are looking for people with decision-making skills, knowledge of law enforcement and the ability to enforce rules and regulations.

Agents typically work in the field at U.S. borders, protecting and surveilling remote areas for illegal activities. The U.S. shares 6,000 miles of land borders with Mexico and Canada.

Officers work at formally established ports of entry. They perform inspections, enforce customs laws and ensure contraband or narcotics don’t enter the U.S. illegally. There are 328 ports of entry across the country.


What are the typical assignments of a CBP Officer?

Read a CBP article here.

  • Detecting and preventing terrorists and terrorist weapons from entering the United States
  • Enforcing customs, immigration, and agricultural laws and regulations at U.S. ports of entry and preclearance locations worldwide
  • Preventing the illegal trafficking of people, narcotics, and contraband into the United States
  • Performing inspection, intelligence analysis, examination, and law enforcement activities including apprehension, detention and arrest relative to arrival and departure of persons, conveyances and merchandise at ports of entry
  • Conducting developmental level officer duties to protect the U.S. homeland, enforce federal laws, and efficiently facilitate legitimate trade and travel
  • Developing, planning, and participating in tactical operations
  • Interacting with carriers, other agencies and foreign entities to exchange information and provide guidance on admissibility/compliance

To become an entry-level CBP Officer, your resume must demonstrate that you have these core skills:

  1. The ability to meet and deal with people
  2. The ability to learn and apply a body of facts

You can also qualify with a Bachelor’s degree. Or combination of education and experience. Learn more here.


What are the typical assignments of a Border Patrol Agent?

Read a usbp article here.

  • Detecting, preventing, and apprehending undocumented aliens, smugglers of aliens, and illegal narcotics by maintaining surveillance from covert positions at or near the 6,000 miles of Mexican and Canadian international land borders and over 2,000 miles of coastal borders
  • Responding to electronic sensor alarms in remote areas;
  • Interpreting and following tracks, marks, and other physical evidence of illegal aliens and smugglers
  • Using cutting edge technology, such as infrared scopes during nighttime operations
  • Performing line-watch duties, traffic checkpoint operations, city patrols, transportation checks, and other law enforcement duties, as assigned; and
  • Communicating and/or giving verbal commands in Spanish to Spanish-speaking illegal aliens and smugglers

To become an entry-level Border Patrol Agent, your resume must demonstrate that you have these core skills:

  1. The ability to take charge, make sound decisions and maintain composure in stressful situations
  2. The ability to learn law enforcement regulations, methods and techniques through classroom training and/or on-the-job instruction
  3. The ability to gather factual information through questioning, observation, and examination of documents and records

You can also qualify with a Bachelor’s degree. Or combination of education and experience. Learn more here.


How Do You Prove You Are Qualified?

Your resume must follow federal requirements, which includes the name of where you worked and the job title, the Month Year – Month Year you held the job, the number of hours per week, the address of the position, your supervisor’s name and phone number. Collect this information for each job and write it out.

Here is an example:

Security Guard
ATC Security, Inc.
1765 Range Drive
Rockville, Maryland 20852
40 hours per week
January 2018 – Present
Supervisor: Mike Schwartz, (202) XXX-XXXX

Under this heading, give a brief overview of your job and describe your general job duties.

Don’t copy and paste your position description or any other text directly. We recommend the Outline Format resume. Try to think about your job duties as the “Hats” you wear in any given day or week. You can focus on the “hats” that relate to the CBP positions. Put the Hats in ALL CAPS, then describe them with a sentence or two. Try to break your job down into its component parts. You can follow this example:

Overview: As a Security Guard at Montgomery Mall, I work 12-hour shifts from midnight to noon. My job includes working with a team of two other security guards. Montgomery Mall is near a major metropolitan area and petty crime is common.

SECURITY PATROLS: Patrol the mall and see if anything is out of place. Notify police of illegal activities. Ensure the doors remain locked and security lights are operational.

TALK TO PUBLIC: Help people who are at the mall and have problems. For example, if they are locked out of their car. Find lost children. Collect lost items and return them to owners.

ENFORCE LAWS AND POLICIES: Make sure people at the mall and on mall property are following local and state laws, as well as the policies of the mall. Typical problems include people parking illegally while not shopping at the mall and shoplifting.

TEAM MEMBER: I refer shoplifting issues to the Montgomery County police. Collaborate with other Security Guards when issues require more than one officer. Check in with them using hand-held radios.

After you describe your duties, then you need to show how you have demonstrated the skills and abilities required in the job. Use the language in the announcement to describe your past experiences. Your goal is to mirror the language in the job posting. Don’t assume that Human Resources can infer or assume anything about your experience. Everything must be explained.

Write one accomplishment to address each requirement in the job posting. For entry level jobs, they are listed above in PURPLE. It is great if your accomplishments relate to security or law enforcement, but if they don’t, that’s okay.

The Security Guard in our example is applying to the job Border Patrol Agent. So his accomplishments need to address these three items. The important words are underlined.

The ability to take charge, make sound decisions and maintain composure in stressful situations

The ability to learn law enforcement regulations, methods and techniques through classroom training and/or on-the-job instruction

The ability to gather factual information through questioning, observation, and examination of documents and records


Here are some examples of accomplishments:

APPREHENDED WANTED SUSPECT: A local man was wanted for a non-violent felony in Montgomery County. I observed the license plate of his car parked in a remote part of the parking garage. I communicated with my team members and maintained my composure. Knocked on the window to the car, showed him my badge and told him to get out of the car, according to law enforcement techniques I learned on the job. Put suspect in handcuffs. Police arrived 20 minutes later.

RECEIVED AWARD FOR EMPLOYEE OF THE MONTH: I was given a $250 cash award for excellent service and for my commitment to learning. Over six months, I graduated from eight 10-hour certification classes for law enforcement regulations, techniques and methods, given by the State of Maryland.

TEAM LEADER IN SEARCH FOR MISSING CHILD: A very upset mother came to me crying because she lost her 3-year-old toddler in the mall. She did not speak English, but was able to share the little girl’s name. I also asked her to show me a photo and immediately texted the photo to the two other Security Team members. Taking charge, I divided the mall into sections and asked the team members to report to me if she was located. I also alerted each department store. Acting quickly in a stressful situation, my team found the little girl within 35 minutes and reunited her with her mom.


Here is what the Job Block looks like all together.

Try to follow this format for each of your most recent 2-3 jobs. The final resume will be 2-5 pages long. For federal resumes, you don’t need a fancy format. You do need to include all of the details we have here.

Security Guard
ATC Security, Inc.
1765 Range Drive
Rockville, Maryland 20852
40 hours per week
January 2018 – Present
Supervisor: Mike Schwartz, (202) XXX-XXXX

Overview: As a Security Guard at Montgomery Mall, I work 12-hour shifts from midnight to noon. My job includes working with a team of two other security guards. Montgomery Mall is near a major metropolitan area and petty crime is common.

SECURITY PATROLS: Patrol the mall and see if anything is out of place. Notify police of illegal activities. Ensure the doors remain locked and security lights are operational.

TALK TO PUBLIC: Help people who are at the mall and have problems. For example, if they are locked out of their car. Find lost children. Collect lost items and return them to owners.

ENFORCE LAWS AND POLICIES: Make sure people at the mall and on mall property are following local and state laws, as well as the policies of the mall. Typical problems include people parking illegally while not shopping at the mall and shoplifting.

TEAM MEMBER: I refer shoplifting issues to the Montgomery County police. Collaborate with other Security Guards when issues require more than one officer. Check in with them using hand-held radios.

++ Key Accomplishments ++
APPREHENDED WANTED SUSPECT: A local man was wanted for a non-violent felony in Montgomery County. I observed the license plate of his car parked in a remote part of the parking garage. I communicated with my team members and maintained my composure. Knocked on the window to the car, showed him my badge and told him to get out of the car, according to law enforcement techniques I learned on the job. Put suspect in handcuffs. Police arrived 20 minutes later.

RECEIVED AWARD FOR EMPLOYEE OF THE MONTH: I was given a $250 cash award for excellent service and for my commitment to learning. Over six months, I graduated from eight 10-hour certification classes for law enforcement regulations, techniques and methods, given by the State of Maryland.

TEAM LEADER IN SEARCH FOR MISSING CHILD: A very upset mother came to me crying because she lost her 3-year-old toddler in the mall. She did not speak English, but was able to share the little girl’s name. I also asked her to show me a photo and immediately texted the photo to the two other Security Team members. Taking charge, I divided the mall into sections and asked the team members to report to me if she was located. I also alerted each department store. Acting quickly in a stressful situation, my team found the little girl within 35 minutes and reunited her with her mom.

IMPORTANT USCBP RESOURCE:

Read the resource here.


Copyright© 2019, Resume Place, Inc.


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