The initial step toward getting a job you're interested in is creating an outstanding resume. As the field of criminal justice is diverse, your resume should be tailored to the specific job you're hoping to land. Law enforcement officers, forensic investigators, and legal professionals all work within the criminal justice system, each position requiring a unique set of skills. That’s why we've compiled some tips on how to write the perfect criminal justice resume to help you get started.
Tips for an Effective Resume
A resume for a criminal justice job is a career overview specifically aimed at a position within the criminal justice system. This type of resume should highlight your skills and experience in the criminal justice field and be in line with the job you are applying for. That’s why you should include relevant information that will catch the hiring manager's attention, omitting less pertinent details.
To write a resume for this field, a criminal justice professional should carefully analyze the job description and check the required and preferred qualifications. The next step toward a successful resume for criminal justice work is to highlight your experience and skills, as well as any certifications or training that demonstrate expertise in the field. It’s always a good idea to include keywords related to criminal justice such as "investigation," "crime scene analysis," and "forensic science" so as to meet applicant tracking system criteria. Finally, format the resume using logical subheadings with bullet points to make it clear and comprehensible.
Here is a breakdown of the steps involved in creating such a resume:
1. Start by Creating a Resume Outline
One of the major steps in crafting your resume is choosing the format. Begin by creating an outline with subheadings such as "Professional Experience," "Skills," and "Education." Then, list the skills and experience that you want to focus on. Bullet points are an effective way to highlight pertinent information.
Another tip is to try and condense your resume onto a single page to improve its readability. If this sounds too difficult, you can go for one of the many online free criminal justice resume templates or resume builders.
2. List Your Personal Information at the Top
It’s essential that you include your contact information in your resume so the potential employer can get in touch with you if you’re shortlisted. Your name, phone number, and email address should be stated clearly at the top of the page. Additionally, you can mention your professional website, if you have one, or work-related social media profiles, such as LinkedIn, where potential employers can learn more about your achievements.
3. Include a Summary Objective
A criminal justice resume objective is a descriptive paragraph summarizing your skills and experience and what you’re looking for in a job. It’s an excellent opportunity to catch the recruiter's attention and highlight why you consider yourself an optimal candidate for the position.
To write a compelling summary objective for a job in criminal justice, you should focus on your strongest skills and experience. This may include training or certifications you have received that make you suited for the role. You should also mention if you already held any relevant positions within the industry.
The idea behind an objective is to provide an impactful narrative of the information presented in the resume body. Also, the objective for a criminal justice resume is to express your long-term professional goals or any specific aspect of the job that interests you, your desired responsibilities, and what you’d like to achieve in that role.
4. Highlight Your Experience in Criminal Justice
It’s advisable to add every relevant internship, job, freelance, or volunteer experience you have to demonstrate your knowledge. If you’ve been working as a police officer, crime scene investigator, probation or parole officer, or if you volunteered with a local community watch program, be sure to include these on your resume.
But what about those with an entry-level criminal justice resume who have no experience in the field? In this case, it’s wise to focus on any relevant skills you acquired during your studies, such as academic coursework, extracurricular activities, internships, and volunteer work. For instance, if you are writing a resume for an entry-level position as a crime scene analyst, you might want to highlight any laboratory experience or coursework in forensics that you’ve obtained.
If you boast a long work history in the criminal justice field, be selective and mention only your most relevant and recent accomplishments. You can do this by including specific examples of when you excelled in your role or received positive feedback from co-workers or clients.
When listing your experience, start with your current or most recent job and work your way backward. It’s a good idea to take a look at criminal justice sample resumes for some inspiration. You’ll see that for each bullet point, the company's name and job title are always noted, accompanied by employment dates and responsibilities.
5. Education - List Your Degree, Major, and Relevant Coursework
A resume for a criminal justice major will likely be easier to write as you can focus on the degree you’ve earned in the field and any relevant coursework you completed. Mention your GPA solely if it’s above 3.5 and you’re a recent graduate. Be sure to list your law-related certifications and licenses as well. Becoming a criminal justice attorney, for example, requires a law degree and passing the bar exam, so you should include these particulars on your resume.
If you’re a criminal justice student, your resume should contain any academic achievements or extracurricular activities that are pertinent to the role. This might include coursework in criminal law, research papers you have completed, or honors societies you belong to.
Some of the standard educational requirements that might be a prerequisite for your desired position are:
- Bachelor’s degree in criminal justice, sociology, or a related field
- Master’s degree in forensic psychology or criminology
- Certification as a police officer, paralegal, or crime scene analyst
6. Skills and Qualifications
Take stock of the skills that are most fitting to the position you are applying for and list them clearly. This might include report-writing, data analysis, critical thinking and problem solving, communication skills, and conflict resolution.
Think of job-specific skills for your criminal justice resume; for example, if you're applying for a cybersecurity or information analytics job, you should emphasize your experience with SAS and SPSS software. On the other hand, if you’ve opted for a criminal justice attorney position, skills such as client interaction, contract negotiation, and brief writing will certainly be more relevant.
Once you've finished writing your resume, be sure to proofread it thorougly and make any necessary edits. Then, send it out to potential employers and follow up to receive feedback concerning your application. To increase the likelihood of attaining your criminal justice resume objectives, you might want to enclose a cover letter. Try to craft one that highlights why you're the perfect fit for that particular job. With the right preparation and a strong resume, you're sure to land the criminal justice job of your dreams!