In today’s market in the wake of 9/11 as well as the establishment of the Department of Homeland Security, criminal justice as a career has never been hotter. Because of this, it is great time to get into the field, but you can also expect the job market to be competitive around the best jobs. There is more that goes into a successful career in criminal justice than just the right education, training and good grades. Because criminal justice is a field where moral character, honesty, physical fitness and other less quantifiable factors are closely scrutinized, it is second only to politics in the type of magnifying glass applicants can expect to sit under before being awarded a job in the field.
For candidates in the Secret Service, Federal Bureau of Investigation and other government agencies, the magnifying glass gets sharper and more finely focused. For instance, if you hold a master of health administration, you can expect scrutiny if you go into health education, but a bit more if you work for Homeland Security studying biological warfare. Before you revamp your resume, learn more about criminal justice resume additions that can make you simply irresistible to prospective employers.
Format Your Resume Properly
Because criminal justice is an exacting field full of dotted “I’s” and crossed “T’s,” you will want your resume to showcase your attention to detail plus your exacting personality. At a level even business or education candidates will likely never have to withstand, you will want to proofread your resume until grammar, punctuation, spelling and other facets are immaculate. Margins should be exactly one inch from top to bottom, left to right. Font should be 12-point type and in either Times New Roman or Arial. Your resume should be web-ready, free from any characters or formatting that can display improperly when sent via email or scanned. The placement of information should be industry standard starting with contact information, moving to your objective statement, then to education and credentials, followed by prior work history, additional relevant skills, honors and awards. Your references list should be formatted in the same way. You should have both documents ready to share during interviews and networking sessions.
Emphasize Education and Work Experience
Because the field of criminal justice is so competitive, having the appropriate prior work experience, or just the right education and credentials alone is never enough. Candidates must have both to expect to shine above the competition. In every possible way, you want to showcase that you have everything a prospective employer is looking for. If you need to return to school first to enroll in one of the many criminal justice graduate programs in order to make yourself competitive, include this in your long-range career plan. If you need to enroll in fitness classes to get in shape, do this first before the process of seeking a job in criminal justice. Because fitness testing and prescreening on not just a physical but also a mental and emotional level is often a prequalification here, you will want to be sure that you are physically, emotionally and mentally ready. While you will certainly get some amount of training and guidance once you are hired, you will want to have as much preparation as possible beforehand.
Making Yourself Irresistible
Finally, in order to make yourself the most appealing to employers, use your free time well. Volunteer for civic organizations involved with peacekeeping and community security. Become an advocate for abused children or animals, so you can work within the criminal justice system and get used to the situations you might encounter on the job. Think of every volunteer activity, every hobby from the perspective of how it can show an employer about why you are the best choice for their position. In this way, the criminal justice employer will find you a candidate very hard to resist.
About the Author: Jessica Spencer is a criminal justice student as well as a guest blogger. She has interned at several notable institutions during her academic career and is hoping to land a job in the FBI when she graduates in spring 2013.