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Hard Lessons Learned on the Job Hunt

Sunday April 13, 2014
A long, long time ago, when I was in high school, I decided I wanted a new job. Suit and Tie I'd heard that our local grocer chain was a good employer. They offered decent pay and even company stock if you worked for them long enough. In short, much like the careers I write about now, it was a great opportunity, and I wanted in.

I showed up one day to pick up a job application (there was no such thing as "online"). I was wearing torn jeans and a Metallica t-shirt with a menacing skull prominently featured on the front. Not the most professional attire by any stretch.

My plan was to grab an application, take it home, and bring it back, this time dressed sharply in slacks and a shirt and tie. What I didn't know was that this particular company required you to fill out your application on the spot and watch an orientation video before hand.

Though I had every intention of making a good first impression when I returned my application, I completely neglected to consider the impression I might make when I picked up the application. As you can probably already guess, I didn't get the job. I didn't even get an interview.

Years later, I still see people looking for jobs, dressed not unlike I was so long ago. Often, they're oblivious to the need to present a professional image in every step of the job search, including when you first inquire about applying.

Don't make the same mistakes I did. Learn how to remake your image, dress for success and make every interaction you have with employers count. Show them that you are the person they want working for them. Good luck!

Man's T-Shirt Makes Cops' Job Easier

Thursday April 10, 2014
One major function of police officers is traffic enforcement, and perhaps no enforcement is more vital than that of drugged and drunk driving. According to The Smoking Gun, Oregon resident Ross McMakin was all too willing to make officers' jobs just a little easier by advertising his crime on his T-shirt.

McMakin was recently arrested for drunk driving and other offenses after he drove his car onto the sidewalk and hit a parked car. And attacked his girlfriend, who had been in the car with him.

When the police arrived on scene, McMakin was proudly adorned in a T-shirt with the words "Drunk as Sh*T" prominently displayed across his chest. Just in case little eyes are peeking, we'll spare you McMakin's grinning mug shot, but suffice to say that there may not exist another jailhouse photo with more evidentiary value.

Traffic safety is of critical importance to law enforcement, most especially to state troopers and patrol officers. Far too many people are injured and killed each year from traffic crashes, and according to Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD), 10,322 people lost their lives due to drunk driving in 2012. All the more reason for police to take the problem of impaired driving seriously.

Oh, Behave! Learning how to Conduct Yourself On the Job Hunt...

Monday April 7, 2014
Brimfield, Ohio Police Chief David Oliver has made a name for himself and his department by "telling it like it is." His good-natured plain talk has generated quite a few followers on Facebook, including yours truly. Not so long ago, he called out rapper Kanye West for comparing his entertainment career with the dangers police officers face on a daily basis. Recently, the Chief took on a topic near and dear to my heart: how to conduct yourself when job hunting.

Admittedly, the Chief is far funnier, albeit less diplomatic, than I am. He does however, offer some excellent and, sadly, much-needed advice on how one should act when trying to get hired in law enforcement.

Among some of his more poignant gems are the advice to "not have your underwear showing at any time during the job seeking process," and the fact that "'Dude', 'bro' or 'like' are not business vocabulary words."

It's unfortunate that the Chief's advice is so badly needed, but it is. Far too many people find themselves struggling to land a good job because they don't take the time to consider how to dress or behave. Hopefully, with Chief Oliver's help - and, of course, the great advice you get from About.com - job seekers will begin to take note.

Learn the Lingo

Friday April 4, 2014
We're hard at work trying to make sure we get you all the information you need to score a fun, exciting and rewarding career in criminal justice and criminology. From career profiles to criminal justice technology, we're covering it all. But if you really want to be a criminal justice professional, you've got to learn to talk like one.

To that end, in case you didn't know, we've established an entire criminology glossary dedicated to educating you about the terminology associated with our profession.

Like most professions, criminology and criminal justice workers can at times seem like they're speaking own language. Learning their lingo can help you feel more at ease when interviewing for a job or learning more about the types of careers available.

Invasion of the Body Farms

Wednesday April 2, 2014
The Fox Valley Technical College in Appleton, Wisconsin has unveiled plans to establish a new body farm on its public safety training campus.

What's a body farm, you ask? Essentially, it's a research facility dedicated to studying how organic remains - particularly human bodies - decompose. Don't worry; the human bodies are prearranged to be donated, an animal carcasses make up the rest.

Body farms are special enough, since so few exist, but the location of this one in particular will allow forensic scientists to study how bodies decompose in colder weather.

This will be a boon for forensic anthropologists and forensic entomologists alike, since they'll be able to collect even more scientific data on decomposition. All of that will provide valuable information that could eventually lead to more crimes solved and more answers for victims' families.

It may sound gross, and certainly any neighbors will probably be none too pleased, but it's all part of the job in criminology and criminal justice careers.

Should You Get a Degree in Criminal Justice?

Sunday March 30, 2014
If you dig deep enough, you'll come across some folks who'll tell you that police departments don't like criminal justice degrees. They say they don't provide any useful knowledge or real-world skills to do the job. Pay no attention. The fact of the matter is there are very few, if any, jobs that you are going to come right out of college knowing how to do. That's what orientation, training and on-the-job learning are for.

In law enforcement, there's a very formal process to provide every officer, regardless of degree status, with the knowldge, skills and abilities to do the job safely and effectively. Starting with the police academy and going all the way through field training and beyond, officers don't need a degree to do their job well.

Don't misunderstand me, though. A college degree can provide tremendous intangible benefits that well help you excel and advance in your career. Even though many departments don't require a degree to get hired, several require one in order for you to promote.

A criminal justice degree, in particular, provides very important foundational knowledge about the ins and outs of the criminal justice system and about the importance of the U.S. Constitution as it pertains to police procedure. That's valuable knowledge that police departments want their officers to have.

So, if you're wondering whether or not you should go after a degree in criminal justice, my answer is yes. If your goal is to work in law enforcement, corrections or a related field, a criminal justice degree will give you tools that will more than set you up for future success.

Why Are Tired Cops a Problem?

Tuesday March 25, 2014
Between the shift work, the stress that comes from chasing hot calls, excessive overtime and off-duty work, poor health choices and the long hours that come with working a day in the life of a police officer, law enforcement can make you tired. In fact, it can lead to a situation known as law enforcement fatigue, and it can cause real problems for cops and their departments.

Research shows that the symptoms of fatigue can mimic impairment by alcohol or drugs, and the more tired you are, the more impaired you may act. All of that can lead to serious officer safety issues.

Officers can combat law enforcement fatigue by exercising regulalry, making healthy dietary habits and trying to get a full night's rest. Don't allow yourself to be a victim; take steps to take control of your health and combat the symptoms of fatigue.

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What You Need To Consider Before Taking a Law Enforcement Job

Friday March 21, 2014
Police officersThere are lots of great things about being a police officer, but there are plenty of less than desirable aspects of the job, as well. Understanding that it's going to take a while to get hired for a police career anyway, there are a few things you really need to consider before jumping headlong into the job.

As I say when helping people prepare for any criminal justice or criminology career, you need to look before you leap and be certain that you know what you're getting into. Realize that the job may be unpleasant at times and that it can be very tiring and stressful.

The good news, though, is that if you can get through all of the rough spots, you'll find yourself in one of the most exciting and rewarding careers around.

Image copyright Andrew Burton/Getty Images

What's So Bad About Being a Cop?

Monday March 17, 2014
Thin Blue LineMost of the time, I write about all of the great things in careers in criminal justice and criminology. Maybe it's because I love the work so much, or maybe it's because I don't like focusing on the negative. In truth though, no matter how great a job is, it's never all sunshine and roses.

There are a lot of hard times and a lot of difficult people that you have to put up with when you work in law enforcement.

On any given day, you'll experience a range of emotions and experiences from wonderful to wretched, but you have to take it all in stride. In the end, though, despite the worst of it all, it's still completely worth it.

What's So Great About Working in Law Enforcement?

Wednesday March 12, 2014
When I first decided to take the journey to become a law enforcement officer, I thought I knew what I was getting into.

I was prepared for the job to be toughPolice Officer. I had a pretty good notion that I would find myself in some unpleasant and even dangerous situations. But what caught me totally off guard was how awesome the job really is.

Of course it's great to be a part of something that serves a greater purpose, and to be able to help others. But it the fact is, everything else aside, a career in law enforcement is really, really fun. So fun, in fact, you should consider becoming a police officer.

image copyright Getty Images

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