10 Surprising Reasons Why You May Not Get Hired in Corrections

Not hiring YOU at this time

So you’re interested in obtaining a job in corrections? You have polished your resume and tweaked your LinkedIn profile. Maybe you have even starting applying and received some opportunities to interview. But you’re still not getting the success you hoped for and you’re starting to wonder why.

Sometimes being passed up for a job is not due to a lack of experience, weak resume or poor interview skills. There may be other factors that are holding you back—maybe things that you never even considered.

We’re thinking outside of the box and sharing some surprising reasons that you may not be getting the job. We’re going to give you the bad news, but thankfully we are not going to leave you in the lurch. We’re also sharing how to overcome these employment obstacles.

10 Reasons that You May Not Get the Job and How to Fix Them

1. You have visible tattoos or body piercings—Expectations regarding body art have changed in recent years. Some employers have loosened their policies on some forms of body modification. But particularly for those in law enforcement and criminal or juvenile justice, visible tattoos and body piercings present a predicament. Tattoos, in particular, can shed light on an individual’s personal views or provide personal information (names, dates, etc). Given their integral role in gang and prison culture, tattoos can also be misinterpreted to indicate an affiliation with a particular group, which can become a security issue.
Remedy: If you are considering getting a tattoo or body piercing, think ahead before you get one on your face, neck or hands, as some employers will not overlook body art on these visible spots. If you have a tattoo on your arms, you may be required to wear shirts with sleeves that cover up your arms. If you have visible body piercings, you may be asked to remove them for work (this could be a safety issue). It is wise to eliminate distractions when interviewing by covering tattoos and removing piercings. You should also inquire as to what their policy is, if you have any related concerns. If you have visible tattoos, you may consider laser removal.

2. You indicate an extreme bias against correctional clients—When you are applying for a correctional job, you may be asked to submit an essay, take a test, or answer verbal questions that may reveal your feelings about those under correctional supervision. Although employers want job applicants who care about upholding the law and facilitating justice, they may grow concerned if an applicant feels the need to take justice into their own hands or indicates a personal agenda leaning towards vigilantism.
Remedy: Working in a correctional environment means that you may come into direct contact with individuals that have committed heinous crimes. But it is vital to remember that corrections is a people business, and you must possess the ability to work with such individuals in an unbiased and objective way. It is helpful to bear in mind that the criminal justice system is designed to provide the appropriate level of judgment and justice. Therefore exacting justice is not the responsibility of any individual employee. If you find yourself being prone to abnormal subjectivity or bias when it comes to individuals under correctional supervision, you may want to consider volunteering to see if such an environment is appropriate for you. Sensitivity training may be another viable option to alter your perspective.

3. You possess extreme religious and/or political views—Similar to extreme subjectivity or bias, fervent religious or political views are also cause for concern for employers. You may reveal your leanings in the things that you write in your cover letter or say during an interview. Once again, objectivity prevails when it comes to a career in corrections. You will interact with a great number of individuals who may possess varying views regarding religion and politics, so it is vital to learn how to show respect and tolerance to everyone.
Remedy: Keep your religious and political views to yourself. Refrain from sharing them in job application correspondence and during interviews. Avoid sharing such views online, as employers may do an online search to find out more about you. Sensitivity training may be used to increase your ability to show tolerance to those with differing beliefs. Steer clear of visible tattoos that may reflect your belief system, as applicants have been known to be turned down for such visual displays.

4. You do not know how to drive and/or do not possess a valid driver’s license— It’s understandable that not everyone chooses to drive, especially those that live in larger city environments. You may take public transportation or may walk or bike to work. But when it comes to applying for correctional jobs, many positions do require a valid driver’s license. There are numerous reasons for this: They want to make sure that you are able to get to work without being at the mercy of public transportation. A driver’s license is the primary source of identification for most individuals. Driving may be one of the job duties, including home visits for probation and parole officers or transport of inmates to medical visits for correctional officers.
Remedy: If you do not know how to drive, you should arrange to take a driver’s education course so that you can obtain your driver’s license. If you have had a license in the past, but let it expire, you should contact your local Motor Vehicle Division to find out what is needed to obtain a new one. If your license was revoked due to traffic offenses, you may experience trouble getting a job depending on the nature and severity of your offenses (employers will often pull your Motor Vehicle Division driving report). Speak with a lawyer, law enforcement officials, court, and/or your local Motor Vehicle Division to find out what it would take to get your license reinstated.

5. You do not have 20/20 vision— Employers want to make sure that you can see adequately, so you may have your eyesight tested. If you have been putting off getting glasses or have an outdated prescription, now is the time to fix the issue. If you are required to complete firearms training and pass a live-fire test at a weapons firing range, satisfactory eyesight is essential.
Remedy: Make sure that you have the correct prescription for glasses or contacts if you require them. If you think that you may need corrective eyewear, have your eyes tested by an optometrist. If you wear glasses during physical agility testing or a correctional academy, you may be asked to wear protective goggles. Another option to correct eyesight without having to wear glasses or contacts is laser eye surgery.

6. You are not in good physical or emotional shape—We discussed this factor in depth previously (click here for the post) regarding why health and physical fitness is essential for a career in corrections. Correctional employers may require you to pass a physical agility exam, training academy, and/or medical examination by a doctor. If the position requires you to be POST-certified, you may be tested for physical fitness initially and re-tested later during your employment. You may also be subject to psychological testing to determine stability in your behavioral health.
Remedy: Staying in shape through exercise and healthy eating will help you to be prepared for any potential testing. Start training far in advance (you can often get the testing requirements from the employer or online). Get plenty of rest, drink adequate fluids, and attempt to eliminate stress as much as possible. Take time to relax and to take care of your body and mind. If you experience emotional issues or concerns about mental health, address them immediately with a qualified professional.

7. You are a smoker and/or addicted to nicotine products—This plays into staying in good physical shape as mentioned above, but some employers have gotten very specific about this one. Smoking takes a tremendous toll on your health. In turn, it takes a toll on health insurance providers that must pay for all of the necessary care for smoking-related complications. Having smokers as part of a health care insurance pool can significantly raise insurance premiums for all other covered participants. Secondhand smoke at the workplace can be cause for concern, as well as the mess and smell associated with smoking. Due to these adverse effects, some employers have turned to hiring non-smokers only.
Remedy: For your own sake and the sake of your career, you may want to consider eliminating your nicotine usage. Your body will be healthier for it and you will have an easier time passing any required physical agility tests. Being a non-smoker saves you money when it comes to health and life insurance rates, not to mention the obvious monetary savings from not funding your addiction. When applying to employers that require non-smokers, you should allow at least 3 months for all nicotine to leave your system, as you may be tested.

8. You have a low credit score— Employers may run a credit report as part of your background check. Some employers feel that individuals with a higher credit score will be better employees. A high credit score is thought to indicate a greater sense of responsibility and reliability. It is also assumed that someone whose finances are under control will be less likely to commit financial crimes or to take potential offers of financial gain from those under supervision that may try to manipulate correctional employees. If you have outstanding or written off debt or a bankruptcy on your record, it may be more difficult for you to obtain an employment position, especially for more recent infractions.
Remedy: If you have a troubled financial history, be prepared to be honest and upfront about it. Some may recommend disclosing it before a background check is conducted so that there are no surprises and the employer does not assume you are hiding anything. Be ready to answer for your actions and show how you have changed. If you have outstanding current balances and can afford to pay some or all of them, do so and make sure that your credit report gets updated. If you want to check your credit score for free on a regular basis, you can use CreditKarma.com and CreditSesame.com. If you are turned down for employment due to your credit history, you are entitled to a free credit report according to the Fair Credit Reporting Act. If you notice something is incorrect on your credit report, contact the creditor and/or credit reporting agency promptly to get it rectified.

9. You have not paid your child support—As mentioned above, employers feel that your financial history can provide a glimpse into what type of employee you will be. If you have not taken care of your financial obligations, including child support, they may get concerned that you will not take care of your work-related obligations. Additionally, if you are in financial distress, the concern is that you may be more susceptible to take bribes or may be prone to other financial indiscretions. Since child support is ordered by a judge and carries the risk of jail time if not paid, a potential employer may question your own desire to uphold and obey the law. Unpaid child support may cast a dark shadow on your ability to honor commitments.
Remedy: If you are not current on your child support payments, work with your local Child Support Services agency and/or court to determine what is owed and how you can get caught up. If you have gotten behind in the past, be prepared to share your circumstances with a potential employer and how you plan to prevent such lapses in the future.

10. You have a questionable online presence—When employers are checking you out to determine if you are worth hiring, they may not just look at your resume. As part of your background check, they may do an online search to see what can be learned about you. Some correctional and law enforcement agencies may ask what social media networks or websites that you are active on and require you to provide links to such accounts. Negative information found online, including risqué photos, racist rants, or swear words, can cast a negative light on your viability as a job candidate. As mentioned above, social media can also reveal your religious or political tendencies, so take care to keep those tendencies private. Biases may also be revealed online and may affect what potential employers think of you.
Remedy: It is recommended that you establish and maintain a positive online image. Adjust your social media account settings to allow for maximum privacy. Make sure that profile pictures or photos that are on websites are appropriate in nature. Cultivate a LinkedIn profile that shares information that will interest and impress potential employers. Maintain an online website or portfolio that you can refer employers to and that will pull up in search results, so that they can find out more about you and your work. Disable questionable social media and website accounts. Be mindful before you post anything that may reflect poorly on you as a job candidate, which means that profanity-filled tirades, lewd comments or photos, and complaints about previous or current employers are definite no-no’s. Remember that employers may be able to see comments posted on pages or accounts other than your own. Learn how to use the Internet to build your personal brand. Branding yourself online in a positive way is no longer optional-- it's essential.

“An Ounce of Prevention is Worth a Pound of Cure”

This list was put together specifically to address correctional and law enforcement hiring guidelines, but many employers in other fields of work may also consider these factors.

Whenever possible, you should think ahead to prevent these factors from negatively influencing your job search. But if you have already been adversely affected by one or more of these factors, don’t delay in figuring out how to work past it. Don’t allow minor discrepancies to ruin your chances at the career of your dreams. We have provided a remedy for each to demonstrate that you have the power to turn your fortunes around.

Have you ever been passed over for a job (or have a suspicion that you may have) due to any of these reasons? How are you working to overcome this concern for next time?

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