Let’s start off this new project with a discussion that I’ve been having a lot with many of you:
Too much? I think it’s important to bold and capitalize the word to show how serious I am about the importance of a proper resume, especially for college students. In our ADJ internships, resumes are a required component of the application process, and I am surprised how many of my students do not have a current resume or have never created one for themselves. Your resume is often the first thing that future employers see - you do not show up in person to apply for the job, and before they get to meet you or talk to you, they first are going to review your resume, so it has to be done well and it has to reflect your competitiveness as a potential employee.
I’ll let you in on a secret (not really; I feel like I bring this up a lot and many of you are probably sick of hearing it, but, anyway…) YOUR RESUME IS VERY IMPORTANT. I’ve had a lot of students in my office questioning why they never received a call back from the dream job they just applied for and they are not comforted by my answer once I see their application. A poorly done resume or incomplete application is the first thing a potential employer sees, and my recommendation here may seem harsh, but it is true - your potential employer does not care about your intentions, they care about the work you show them. Employers do not provide you the opportunity you have with professors; you cannot call Human Resources and tell them that you accidentally emailed the wrong document or that you missed the deadline because you’ve been stressed with all the other stuff in your life and you hope they will accept it late. These excuses may work with some of your professors, because as professors we realize you are balancing so many responsibilities and also (and perhaps the biggest factor) is that you do not work for us; we technically are here to work for you.
I have found an increasing pattern of behavior in my students where their job applications and resumes reflect the same level of quality of their assignments, and unfortunately this is not necessarily a good thing. Your resume and your job application have to be pristine and cannot have mistakes. You are competing for a position not just with yourself, but with every other person on the planet who may also be interested in that position, and within the criminal justice field, there can be a lot of competition. (This is especially true for crime scene investigation and criminalistics positions). The easiest way for an employer to immediately say no when receiving your application is for there to be glaring mistakes, misspellings, missed documents, or shoddy workmanship. Employers want to see effort, intention, and organization; your resume needs to reflect this.
So how exactly can an ADJ student accomplish this? Well, here are some basic recommendations that can go a long way:
Format your resume so it looks clean and professional.
This means to pay attention to the margins and spacing, as well as the font, the size of the text, and the order of information on your resume. Criminal justice jobs are conservative in regards to resume formatting - no colored text, no photographs, no fancy borders, and use a clean and clear font (nothing cursive or similar).
Check your contact information.
I appreciate a funny or clever email address as much as anyone, but leave it off the resume. In fact, create a separate email for business or hiring purposes, and try to keep it as generic as possible, such as email@example.com. There is no excuse to not create a new email - it’s free, it’s easy, and there’s no limit to how many you can have. (Just make sure you check it). This is much better than sending a resume to your dream job and asking them to email you a response to postmalonefan01 or sexyramsfan13.
Take advantage of your resources.
To be blunt, there is no reason a college student should have a shitty resume; there are literally thousands of free templates and examples available on the most basic Google search to learn from. This can help immensely and provide examples of what information you should or should not include on the resume; grammar errors and misspellings can be fixed in a much easier manner if the rest of the resume is solid, so even students who may not write well in English can still develop a strong foundation of a resume and seek revisions later.
Leave certain info off.
Some information does not or should not be on a resume; it’s not just what you do put on it, but also what you should leave off of it. Is your GPA low? Don’t include it with your educational information. Never put your age or date or birth on a resume; not only does it not matter, but it is illegal in most jobs for Human Resources to even ask your age, so putting it on a resume puts them in a difficult position when they’re reviewing your application. Do not include criminal histories on your resume, either. Your resume is not your background investigation, so keep it simple.
Review it before you send it.
Just like your assignments, you should be reviewing your resumes before you send them off for a future employer to read and consider; it is here where you may find a simple misspelling, extra spacing, a missing word, or another small but easily fixed issue. Remember that once you send it, you cannot pull it back and for better or worse, what you send is what is read.
I will be posting more recommendations about resume writing and resume maintenance in the upcoming semesters. I hope that, in reading this, many of you are at least inspired to check on your existing resume or look into creating one (if you do not have a current resume).
The Balance Careers - Resumes