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Call Me, Maybe? The Use of Networking to Get that Criminal Justice Job

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We are in an age where available jobs in criminal justice careers require job seekers to use all the available means to get hired. Competition for jobs can be challenging. Many students ask me, “What should I do to get the job I want?”

In one word - networking. A recent survey by Right Management of more than 46,000 clients indicated 46 percent were employed through networking. It beat out Internet job boards, search firms, direct contact (cold calling) and responses to advertising.

Networking within the industry has several advantages. The most important advantage is the ability to establish connections within your chosen field, which gets your name out there. Crafting a resume and getting it posted on major job search Internet sites is a great start. Using Internet employment tools, such as LinkedIn and even Facebook, gets you connected with others in your field who know people who know other people.

As a criminal justice student just starting out, one of the best ways to network is through internships. Even internships that do not require a large number of hours give a potential employer the opportunity to view your work ethic and demeanor up close and personal. It has been said that a 200+ hour internship is actually a long job interview where employers can evaluate an intern’s potential and see if one would be a good fit for the organization. Courses that include external learning experiences, i.e. commonly known as field trips, offer great opportunities to meet others within the industry to see and experience what their jobs entail. They also provide the opportunity for others in the industry to remember you when you do apply with their organization.

Participation in professional organizations relating to one’s criminal justice field of study puts you in the company of others who are like minded. Many professional organizations provide associate memberships to those who might not be in the field yet, but are looking for a special opportunity. Criminal justice organizations such as the American Criminal Justice Association, gives students the chance to hone their leadership skills through the creation of local chapters, as well as participate in academic writing competitions and scholarships.

The establishment of connections within the criminal justice field of study can be vast. Networking provides the greatest opportunity for success and can change a “Call me, maybe,” to a job offer.

Ron Harper

Ron Harper is the IL/WI Criminal Justice Program Coordinator at Rasmussen College in Rockford, Illinois. He has worked in the law enforcement field for over 35 years, and holds an MS in Public Administration from DePaul University with a focus on Law Enforcement Management. He is a graduate of Northwestern University’s School of Police Staff and Command.

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