Counseling and Other Sources to Help with Career Transition
By Dr. Chuck Russo, program director of Criminal Justice at American Military University
This article is part of In Public Safety’s September focus on career transitions.
What do you want to do when you grow up? I remember hearing this question first in my high school guidance counselor’s office and then several times during my law enforcement career. The truth is, after 30+ years, I still don’t know the answer.
As I’ve written about before, I’ve been lucky that opportunities have presented themselves to me and I’ve been able to capitalize on them. Granted, I’ve always been prepared and put myself in the position to jump through the open door. However, if you haven’t been actively planning for your career transition, there are many tools and services available to you to help you answer the what-do-you-want-to-do-when-you-grow-up question.
What to Put on Your Resume
The most important document in your job search is your resume. While a printout of your completed in-service and advanced law enforcement training courses may suffice for transfer or promotion within an agency, it does not suffice when you’re seeking employment elsewhere. Instead, you will need to document that experience and education on a resume.
[Related Article: Learn to Communicate Skills for Career Success]
In less than a minute, your resume should impress the reviewer and convey your knowledge, skills, and abilities as they relate to the desired position. As this is not much time, proper resume formatting is key.
Your resume should:
- Be highly readable. The content should be easy to process and contain no distractions.
- Display your contact information. Every page of your resume must contain your name and contact information.
- Have uniformity. Be consistent in font style and size as well as uniform spacing and indentions.
- Be clearly organized. Use specific content areas to convey experience and education.
- Use correct grammar. It must be free from grammar or spelling errors.
You are in control of your resume until the moment you click “send” or drop it in a mailbox. Take the time to ensure that all of these areas are addressed. Always have someone else read your read your resume or use a resume review service, prior to submission.
[Related Article: Become a Police Officer: What to Know Leading up to an Interview]
Turn to Career Professionals
American Military University (AMU) has an Office of Career Services to provide students with career resources including resume reviews, career-path planning, job-search assistance, and networking opportunities. All of these tools can help you determine career avenues to pursue.
Many career coaching services use assessments to determine your strengths and direct you to relevant careers that may be of interest to you. Assessment tests attempt to determine your unique knowledge, skills, abilities, and passions to find the best fit for you.
Career coaches often provide current and relevant articles about the job market, information about how to succeed in your job search, and even how to brand yourself on social media.
Networking is an absolutely critical component of career transition. When you’re seeking new opportunities, let anyone and everyone know. Start talking with and being around others who have been in your shoes or people who are plugged into the career you seek. These individuals may know who is hiring, what a company may be looking for, and how to make yourself a desirable candidate.
Get active in alumni associations, professional associations, and civic organizations. All these organizations provide opportunities to connect with others; demonstrate your knowledge, skills, and abilities; and sell to yourself to a potential employer. Remember that career opportunities can come from a number of different sources, so don’t discount any of them as each could hold the key a rewarding and fulfilling second career.
About the Author: Dr. Chuck Russo is the Program Director of Criminal Justice at American Military University (AMU). He began his career in law enforcement in 1987 in Central Florida and was involved in all areas of patrol, training, special operations, and investigations before retiring from law enforcement in 2013. Dr. Russo continues to design and instruct courses, as well as act as a consultant for education, government, and industry throughout the United States and the Middle East. His recent research and presentations focus on emerging technology and law enforcement applications, in addition to post-traumatic stress and online learning.