Sometimes earning a degree feels something like being stuck in traffic on a busy highway: You inch forward slightly, you sit idly for a bit, you inch forward a little more … will you ever get where you’re going? Rest assured, just as traffic eventually clears up and you make it to your destination, you’re getting a little closer to your dream career every day.
Although earning your degree is a triumph, it’s not the end of the road and it’s definitely not time to sit back and relax. It’s time to find that criminal justice job—you know, the one for which you’ve spent all this time preparing.
Instead of newspapers and job boards with hundreds of listings that don’t apply, what if you used something you spend a lot of time on—social media? Sure, finding a job using social media isn’t a new idea. But we’ve weeded out all the general job tips to find the ones you can actually use.
1. Follow criminal justice superstars
Social networks this tip applies to: Facebook & Twitter
It’s true: Sometimes in life, it’s all about who you know. Maybe you’ve made some connections with your Rasmussen College classmates and instructors. If so, that’s great. But it’s not enough. The more people you know, the more who can help you find what you’re looking for.
Sites like Followerwonk make finding relevant people on Twitter easier. Input specific keywords and the site shows you users who have those words in their Twitter bio. Try general terms like “criminal justice” and “police officer” or get location-specific with terms like “Wisconsin police officer.”
2. Use the ‘search’ function
Social networks this tip applies to: Twitter
If you found a few—or even several dozen—good criminal justice people to follow, you might think your work is done. Not quite. Though your feed will now be full of relevant news and links, there’s more out there, and it’s your job to find it.
Set up a consistent time to search relevant hashtags, whether that’s daily or weekly. And though you want a criminal justice job, be sure to search for more general terms like “job search” or “career.”
3. Leverage your LinkedIn connections
Social network this tip applies to: LinkedIn
While you’ve been earning your degree you’ve probably been adding to your LinkedIn connections. Instructors and classmates can all be possible job leads for you. Sure, they might not work at the company you’re eyeing, but perhaps they know someone who knows someone—and that might be all it takes to get your foot in the door! Check out those important criminal justice organizations on LinkedIn and you can easily see if you’re connected to anyone there.
4. Direct message those CJ people you follow
Social network this tip applies to: Twitter
It may seem intimidating to reach out to someone you don’t know offline. If so, you can break the ice by first mentioning them in a few tweets. But don’t let your concern hold you back—they’re on social media, so they’re there to connect, too.
“Attorneys frequently use social media to chat, share news, and exchange stories with one another,” says criminal defense attorney Mike Worgul. “Most lawyers are happy to engage with someone interested in criminal justice or actively pursuing a career in it."
5. Follow relevant CJ accounts to find job announcements
Social networks this tip applies to: Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn
Once you’ve identified important companies in your field, it’s easy to find out when they have job openings. Most do post on a website, but usually the most up-to-date information is found via social media.
Many use multiple social media outlets. For example, the Boston Police Department has accounts on Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook and Google+. It’s also a good idea to follow accounts that focus on specific jobs at a range of companies, such as @PoliceCopJobs or @GetParalegalJobs.
6. Join relevant Twitter chats
Social networks this tip applies to: Twitter
Twitter chats, or "tweet chats," bring together people with similar interests. They’re live, open to the public and a great way to learn what people in the criminal justice field are interested in right now.
Participating in a Twitter chat is fairly simple if you follow these three steps: 1) Find one relevant to you by doing a quick Google search; 2) Be online at the correct time and day; 3) Use the correct hashtag to follow along and join in.
7. Don’t forget to be professional
Social networks this tip applies to: Every single one
Think you should post all your party pictures online so your friends can see? Think again. Professionalism is important, Worgul says.
“That's not to say you can't enjoy happy hour with friends, but be smart about what you share online,” he says. “A photo of a quality beer might be okay. A raging party where you're passed out won't pass. Use common sense but don't be afraid to share who you are either.”
Don’t be fooled into thinking that potential employers won’t snoop online to see what they can find out about you or that they won’t find those photos on some obscure social media network. They will definitely search for you, and they just might find those not-so-secret photos. Do you want to take the chance?
So now what?
If you’re not on social media in a professional capacity, now’s the time to start. After all, as you’re inching toward that perfect criminal justice career every bit helps, right? Whether it’s LinkedIn, Facebook or Twitter, it’s important to get to know others and put yourself out there so they know you.
Now that you’re thinking about jobs, check out The 10 Most Popular Jobs for Criminal Justice Degree Holders to get a feel for some jobs you may not have considered.