Careers in criminal justice involve law enforcement or corrections. You can select from a wide variety of occupations, among them police and parole officers, court clerks, marshals, drug-enforcement agents and community-justice advocates. Although the job requirements will vary, applicants for these positions must demonstrate honesty, sound judgment and a strong sense of responsibility. If you are considering a career in criminal justice, create a resume that reflects these characteristics.
Highlight Your Experience
Hiring officers are looking for proof of strong leadership and communication skills. Start with a powerful performance profile or career summary. Located directly below the header, this short paragraph contains three to five of your greatest skills and achievements. In his book "Gallery of Best Resumes," David F. Noble provides the following example: "Results-oriented professional with more than 20 years of security management and law enforcement experience in both the military and private sector, including drug surveillance, anti-terrorism activities, nuclear security and operations leadership. Highly developed situational problem-solving and analytical skills." In the Work Experience section, create accomplishment statements that emphasize your decision-making and interpersonal skills. Noble provides the following example: "Designed and implemented the Cease Fire Program in conjunction with the city's task force on homicide reduction. The program was deterrent-focused and targeted at parolees."
Flaunt Your Credentials
Although many of these positions do not require post-secondary training, applicants with bachelor's degrees in criminology will have a definite edge. Focus on education if you are a recent graduate. This is your strongest selling point and needs to be placed near the top of the resume. Mention your grade point average--GPA--if it is 3.5 or above. List any awards, certificates or other honors that will distinguish you from the other applicants. If you belong to professional affiliations, describe any leadership roles, committees, task forces or special assignments within those associations. Mention your participation in workshops and seminars, especially those pertaining to leadership and conflict resolution.
Increase the Volume
Ask a friend or mentor to proofread your resume and help increase its volume. Take turns reading the resume out loud. How does it sound? Will it capture the hiring officer's attention for more than 30 seconds? To be considered, you must come across as an assertive, capable applicant with an impressive skill set. Replace any weak verbs and vague expressions with strong, action-oriented statements. As much as possible, specify and quantify. Noble provides the following example: "Supervised three-year investigation of a major drug enterprise leading to the seizure of 200 kilos of cocaine and the indictment of 40+ individuals." After rewriting the resume, wait at least one day and start the process over again. If you have made the appropriate changes, your resume will be a few decibels louder and provide you with impressive sound bites that you can use during the interview process.