What should a correctional officer put on a resume?

Congratulations! Whether you decided upon a certificate program, an associate degree, or a bachelor’s degree program, you’ve completed your correctional officer education and are now ready to apply for a position as a correctional officer! The first thing you’ll need to prepare is a good resume. Having an effective resume can make the difference between being considered for a correctional officer job or not. 

One thing to think about before writing a resume is its length. The rule of thumb is, keep your resume to one page if you’ve worked for less than three years, and no more than two pages if your experience totals to over three years. This is a general rule of thumb and can be changed as necessary, but is a good one to keep in mind. No one wants to read a resume that goes on for page after page, without really saying anything about your qualifications.

Here, we will describe what makes a great correctional officer resume, versus simply a “good” or “okay” correctional officer resume. 

Professional Summary vs. Career Objective

You might have learned that it’s necessary to place an “objective” section at the top of your resume. When you are looking for a correctional officer position, it’s better to make your first section a “Professional Summary.” The first sentence of this section should describe yourself using a title that mimics the job description. If the institution to which you are applying uses an Applicant Tracking System, or ATS, it will calculate how many times you use keywords from the job description throughout your resume. Highlighting as many skills as possible that are mentioned in the job description for the position you wish to land will increase your chances of landing an interview for the job. Keep that in mind when composing your resume.

Entry-level applicants with no corrections experience should emphasize skills such as problem-solving, judgment, physical strength and interpersonal communication. If you have experience gained within another field that you believe would translate well to the position of correctional officer, mention that as well. 

Skills and Experience

The next sections of your resume should focus on what skills and experience you can bring to the table. If you already have some correctional officer experience, list your past skills, competencies and job-related training. If you have never worked in corrections, include how your skills meet the needs of the skills outlined in the job description. Emphasize what skills you have learned in whatever work experience you do have, and how they fit in with correctional officers skills, such as self-discipline and integrity. 

Education and Certifications

This section allows your education and training to shine. Make sure to delineate what certificates or degrees you have received, as well as any special training courses in corrections or peace officer training you might already have completed. Additional trainings that are important to mention here include self-defense, first aid, and crisis prevention, as these are all necessary components of the correctional officer position. 

General Rules of Thumb

When writing a resume for a correctional officer position, it’s important to keep these general rules of thumb in mind:

  • Instead of writing in paragraphs, keep skills and aspects of your experience delineated in bullet lists
  • Don’t use a lot of acronyms or jargon. Often, the first evaluation of your resume is done by a computer that will not catch these terms, or a person who may be unfamiliar with them.
  • Don’t include your references on your resume. If requested, provide them separately. They need not even be mentioned at the end of your resume.
  • Check, double-check, and triple-check your resume for accuracy. Typos and misspellings are red flags telling hiring agencies that you are not detail-oriented. Make sure that you are accurate in your information as well, as you will undergo a background check to verify this information if you are selected for an interview or position.  

Sample Resume

Here’s an example of an effective resume for a Correctional Officer position. This sample resume is for a fictional candidate with some correctional officer experience. However, you can substitute your experience as necessary and emphasize skills you have gained from that experience that lend themselves well to a Correctional Officer position. 

YOUR NAME(BOLD, CAPITIALIZED)

Your address

Your contact information (email address, phone number)

Professional Summary

Dedicated Correctional Officer with over five years of training and education in Criminal Justice. Core competencies include monitoring, judgement and interpersonal communication as well as physical strength and organizational skills. Able to remain calm and confident in the most adverse and stressful working conditions. Handles tasks with efficiency and accuracy.

Skills

  • Public Safety and Security
  • Communication (Oral and Written)
  • Coordination
  • Active Listening
  • Critical Thinking
  • Monitoring
  • Social Perceptiveness
  • Law and Government Knowledge           

_____________________________________________________________________________________

Experience

Correctional Institution                                                             City, State

Position                                                                                    Dates (June 2014-Present)

  • Maintain order, discipline, and security within assigned areas. 
  • Respond to emergencies as they occur.
  • Resolve problems between inmates.
  • Review offender information to identify issues requiring special attention.
  • Restrain, secure or control offenders as necessary.
  • Supervised labor crews in various areas around the facility.
  • Provided safety in program activities.

Mental Health Facility                                                              City, State

Position                                                                                    Dates

  • Interview and assess applicants for programs.
  • Assign clients to day programs.
  • Provide referrals for clients to appropriate mental health professionals.
  • Provide prompt, appropriate assistance to clients in crisis.

Juvenile Assessment Center                                                      City, State

Position                                                                                    Dates

  • Schedule classifications of and interviews for detained youth.
  • Initiate disciplinary reports on inmates.
  • Physically restrain inmates when necessary.
  • Ensure prompt, appropriate assistance to inmates in event of emergency.
  • Promote facility cleanliness and report need for maintenance as necessary.

Education

University Name                                                                       City, State

Degree or Certificate                                                                Date of Graduation

Additional Training

First Aid and CPR Course                                                           City, State

Certificate Obtained                                                                 Date

Self-Defense Course                                                                  City, State

Certificate Obtained                                                                 Date


Where to Search for Correctional Officer Jobs

Openings for correctional officer jobs can be found in a variety of locations, such as:

American Correctional Association Job Bank

Careers in Government- Corrections Jobs

Federal Bureau of Prisons – Current Openings

USAJobs.com (keyword: Correctional Officer)