While you can take many actions in pursuit of a criminal justice career, one of your first actions will require you to prepare a résumé. Most employers want to know what you have done in the past, what you have learned, and why you think you should get a job. A résumé is extremely important because it usually is your first opportunity to show a potential employer who you are and what you can do. You should sure that your résumé has the ability to impress your potential employer in order to afford you the chance to obtain your desired criminal justice job. In other words, in order for you to find and obtain a criminal justice job, you should know some of the ways that you can prepare a better résumé.
- The first thing to do when attempting to improve your résumé is to tailor the resume to your desired position. This is important because every court, police department, state agency, federal agency, and private firm is different, and each of the positions that these organizations offer will be different as well. Each organization will look for individuals with the skills needed for the specific position, and your résumé has to show the organization that you have the skills that the organization needs. For example, the fact that you were regularly required to chase criminals during your last job as a security guard may be extremely important if you plan to become a police officer, but it won’t be nearly as important if you plan to become a criminal psychologist, a forensic scientist, or a lawyer.
- The second thing that you should do when improving your résumé is to proofread it. This is important because spelling errors and grammatical mistakes will make your résumé look sloppy, and it is very easy to miss some of the most commonly made mistakes. You should look for misspelled words, missing punctuation, sentences that don’t quite sound right, and places in which you may have used the wrong word such as “there” instead of “they’re” or “your” instead of “you’re.”
- Next, when attempting to improve your resume, you should keep it short, simple, and easy to read. The human resources manager or a recruiter likely will have to go through piles of resumes, and he or she is much more likely to read your résumé and hire you if it is easier for them to find the information that they need. Your résumé should be no longer than a page, unless you have years of experience. In addition, your resume should be separated into different sections, be in chronological order from most recent schools or jobs to the oldest schools or jobs, and spaced so that everything isn’t bunched together.
- The fourth thing that you should do to improve your résumé is make sure that your cover letter succinctly summarizes the skills described in your resume and explains why you should get the job. This is important because your cover letter is almost always the first thing your potential employer will read, and therefore your cover letter should convince them that your résumé is not a waste of time.