Many people who are interested in becoming a correctional officer are often discouraged once they get a response back from the HR office of a Correctional Department stated that, for whatever reason, they were not hired, they didn’t make the cut.
This may lead you to wonder and second guess yourself on the steps you had taken up to that point. You may think, surely I was qualified enough, and that you felt good about your exam score or that you dazzled during your interview, but maybe there was something you missed, something that you may have overlooked.
That one thing, was it something minor that could have been easily rectified had you known it would have been an issue, or was it something so serious that the mere mention of it would be grounds for and automatic dismissal and disqualification from the corrections hiring process. Let’s take a look at some of the top reasons for why you didn’t get hired as a correctional officer.
- Minimum Requirements Not Met: As you have probably already noticed if you have spent any amount of time on this website researching what it takes to be a Correctional Officer, you will see that in order to even be considered for a position you need to meet a minimum set of requirements, mostly Age, Education, Experience, Citizenship, Driver’s License, etc. If you didn’t meet any of these requirements then most likely your application didn’t even make it past the initial review of applicants. When applying for a Corrections job, make sure that whatever items that are listed as minimum requirement are met to the best of your ability, and if you cannot meet them, inquire with your hiring department to determine if there are alternatives to the originally stated requirement.
- Background Check/ Criminal Record: A common part of the hiring process that is also included in the minimum requirements is that the applicant agrees to submit to a Background Check and Criminal Records screening. This is the section that most people have questions about. What is permitted and what isn’t. What are the disqualifying factors in becoming a correctional officer? Can you have a felon and still get hired? What about DUIs? The answers will obviously vary from state to state but the bottom line still remains that the better your history is the better your chances are during the hiring process. If you know ahead of applying for the job that you might have potential background issues then it is best that you conduct your own background check and take the necessary steps to make improvements if possible.
- Financial History / Bad Credit: A poor financial history and bad credit are often signs that employers look for as indicators of poor self-discipline and the potential to be subject to bribes and corruption. Having financial problems isn’t the end of the world, as we all experience money troubles from time to time. The simple fact that you are looking for work and you are working a credit recovery plan is enough for most departments to show that you are working the issue.
- Medical & Health Issues: As part of the hiring process, applicants are required to undergo a complete physical and in some cases psychological exam as well to determine if you can handle the day to day stresses of Correctional Officer duty.
- Physically Out of Shape: Now it is possible that you can be medically cleared to be a Correctional Officer, but if you cannot pass the required physical fitness tests then you cannot move forward in the hiring process to become a Correctional Officer. If this happened to you then maybe you have an idea now what areas you need to improve upon and how physically fit you need you be for the job. Take some time to make a plan for improvement, get in shape, lose weight, and be ready for the next test.
- Didn’t Pass Required Exam: So maybe you listened to your friend on this one when they said they heard that you could pass the Correctional Officer Exam without studying, and you went in on test day carefree and overconfident, then your score came. You Failed! Not to worry, this is an easy fix. If you are afforded the opportunity to retest in a reasonable amount of time you should make the most of this time to review some of the areas you may be weak on so that you can improve the next time you have to take the exam. Don’t just set your goal for a passing score; try to achieve the highest score possible. Some departments base their recall lists based on these test scores, so the better you do, the sooner you get called when there is an opening. The lower the score, well, now you know why you haven’t heard back in a while after test day.
- Didn’t Meet Education or Training Requirements: At a minimum, you should have a High School Diploma or GED to become a Correctional Officer. If the position that you are applying for requires more education than you currently have there are ways to earn college credit quickly. Make sure that you review the educational requirements prior to you applying for the job to ensure that you are properly qualified or that you can enroll in the proper college program that can meet your correctional officer training requirements.
- Submitted a Subpar Resume: If you didn’t take the time to make sure your resume was the best it could be and was truly impressive then you may have been overlooked early on in the selection process. Check out these correctional officer resume tips to ensure that you make the best first impression on your cover letter and resume.
- Poor Interview Skills: Do your communication skills need work, did you have an off day, did you not dress appropriately for the occasion, or is it that you just don’t interview well? Your job interview for a Corrections job is your first face-to-face opportunity to basically sale yourself to the ones with the power and authority to make hiring decisions. Now if you did the previous item correctly, then you could be in a position to just confirm you resume in your own words in a confident, clear and concise manner.
- Negative Social Media Presence: Increasingly more and more HR departments are delving into the social profiles of prospective applicants in an effort to determine if the person that is applying for the job is as clean cut and honest as they say, or if they are presenting a certain image for the job but in their private life their social profiles tell a different story, full of drinking in excess, drug use/drug paraphernalia, racist/extremist views or opinions, associations with known criminals or criminal activities, etc. If you feel the need to take a stand and be an individual and not change as a person, then you should maybe consider either deleting your objectionable content to present a more positive online image for yourself or adjusting your privacy settings to limit who can access your social profiles.
If you address all of the above mentioned issues before you apply for a Corrections Officer Job then you will most likely improve your chances of landing the job you want the first time. If you are seeing this after you have already applied and were rejected, then at least you know some of the top reasons why you possibly didn’t get hired for the job and steps you can take to get it right and get yourself hired.