What You Need to Know About Getting Hired in Corrections: The Application Process

Paper job application clipboard

If you are new to the field of corrections and interested in obtaining employment, there are some things that you should know about getting hired.

As you become involved in the application and hiring process, you may find differences between traditional hiring processes and correctional hiring processes. We want to provide you with the upper edge by sharing some of these secrets so that you are better prepared.

The Application Process

Much of the application process has been moved online. Although there may be opportunities where you will fill out a paper application, most applications will involve an online application process.
Completed applications are a must. Although you may find some smaller organizations and departments that will require you to fill out an application later, most are going to require an application first and foremost. They may also ask for a resume and cover letter with the application. Detailed applications that are filled out completely are required, so be prepared to provide a higher level of detail than you may be accustomed to.
Be prepared to provide proof of all education, licenses, certifications, etc. Some online application processes require you to provide documentation for any education that you list, so you should have your transcripts and diplomas available in a digital format for easy upload. You may be immediately disqualified from consideration if you do not present these items.
Be prepared to provide comprehensive answers to very specific and targeted questions and/or to compose short essays. When you apply for correctional jobs, often it is not as simple as providing your contact information and previous employers. Applying for jobs requires quite a bit of information and preparation. In addition to filling out an application and preparing a resume and cover letter, you may also have to answer explicit questions that will help the human resources department determine your level of experience and your suitability for the position. Or you may be required to complete short essays that demonstrate your knowledge on a topic. The answers to these questions will become part of your application package, so answer thoroughly, paying attention to your grammar and spelling.
Ensure that all previous employer contact information is up-to-date and that you have a list of references. This is pretty standard, but when you are applying for a job in corrections, missing or incorrect information can disqualify you. References are also vital, so make sure that their contact information is complete. You should have a list of references to choose from, as different organizations have different criteria in what they ask for in a reference. They may ask you for a previous or current supervisor, previous or current co-worker, family member, personal friend, business associate, educational instructor, religious leader, club organizer, or volunteer director. Although previous supervisors are normally acceptable reference sources, be prepared with a variety of options to address any requested contact type.
Part of the application process may include physical or written testing. Many correctional organizations hold routine testing dates that serve as the beginning of the application process. You may need to complete and pass testing to determine your physical condition (often referred to agility tests). You may also need to complete written tests that will determine your knowledge and work skills. If you pass these tests, you may proceed to the next level in the hiring process.
What they say is what they mean when it comes to job postings. When you are dealing with private companies and organizations, their job posting often reads like a wish list. If a quality candidate comes along, they may hire without getting everything that they listed. However, when it comes to correctional positions, especially government ones, you should check on what the requirements are for the position, including age, location, education, licenses, certificates, and level of experience. If you do not possess the requirements, you are very unlikely to get the position. Some positions even have mandates that require any potential candidates to possess certain attributes for them to even be considered and installed into the position. Many organizations have very standardized hiring processes, so following directions is vital or you may be removed from consideration.

In our next blog post, we will cover the subsequent step in the process to getting a correctional job: the interview and selection phase.

Have you ever applied for a job in corrections?
What differences did you notice from traditional hiring processes?

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