To land a job as a correctional officer, you'll need to prove that you have the mental and physical stamina to do one of the most difficult jobs out there. Your correctional officer resume should give clear and concise examples of previous experience in correctional facilities or other jobs that required you to care for safety and security of others.
Luckily, you've come to the right place. Resume.io is a resource for job seekers of all experience levels and career types. This guide is one of our more than 250 job-specific resume examples designed to help you craft the perfect application.
This guide, along with our correctional officer resume example, will discuss:
- What a correctional officer does and the job outlook for the role
- The correct format for this position backed by a resume example
- How to write each of the sections of a great resume sample
- Ways to increase your chances of landing the position through a professional layout
What does a correctional officer do?
Correctional officers are law enforcement professionals who serve as a figure of authority in local jails, state prisons and federal penitentiaries. Correctional officers work to ensure the welfare and safety of prisoners and staff within proximity of the prisoners. Correctional officers disrupt confrontations, maintain order and assist during the rehabilitation process of prisoners.
Correctional officers undergo rigorous training, which enables them to work under difficult and challenging circumstances. Correctional officers must have a strong work ethic and the physical stamina to serve as an effective and proactive officer.
An ideal candidate holds a high school diploma or an equivalent diploma. Although it is not required by all agencies, college coursework or an earned degree in the behavioral or social sciences is highly favored.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median pay for correctional officers in 2020 was $47,440 and there were 462,300 positions as correctional officers in the U.S.
For a few more ideas and inspiration, head over to our related government resume samples :
How to write a correctional officer resume
A great resume sample for a correctional officer will contain many of the same sections found on other resumes including:
- The resume header
- The resume summary (aka profile or personal statement)
- The employment history section
- The resume skills section
- The education section
A correctional officer resume should clearly demonstrate a candidate’s ability to effectively maintain safety and control in their assigned facility. The candidate should have excellent surveillance skills and be a very detail-oriented person.
Winning correctional officers resumes should highlight the candidate’s excellent judgment, as well as their physical strength. Correctional officers should be adept at reacting quickly and appropriately in emergency situations. The resume should also highlight the candidate’s knowledge of rehabilitation methods.
The sections of your correctional officer resume can help you organize your experience and skills, but they also serve a secondary purpose: they allow your resume to be more easily read by Applicant Tracking Systems . ATS algorithms are built into most of today's online application portals. They scan your resume looking for keywords from the job description and rank you against the other applicants. Only the top candidates will be seen by the hiring manager. You can decrease the chances of being filtered out by the ATS in a few easy steps:
- Read the job description closely and look for words emphasized by the employer like specific skills or duties (these are the "keywords.")
- Add the keywords using the exact language from the job description into the appropriate sections of your resume.
- Never stuff your resume with keywords or lie about your experience to beat the ATS – you may succeed in overpowering the robots but you won't win against the human hiring manager!
Choosing the best resume format for correctional officers
The right resume format allows a hiring manager to quickly find what they are looking for on a correctional officer resume. In this case, we recommend the reverse chronological format which begins with your most recent position and works backwards until you've listed all relevant experience. Since correctional offers need to prove that they have the chops for such a difficult role, related experience is essential on your resume and this format is the best one to highlight it.
There are other resume formats that you may consider using, most notably the combination format which begins with your skills section followed by a shorter employment history section. However, if you've already held positions in law enforcement, security or another related field, we recommend you use the reverse chronological format as it is the one traditionally sought by hiring managers for candidates with experience.
Getting the format just right can be tricky with word processors and graphic design software that wasn't made specifically for resumes. A simple template can help you fit all the required information on one page.
Resume summary example
The summary of your resume is the place to catch a hiring manager's attention and show them that you have the right training and skills for the role. Highlight your biggest accomplishments and attributes here to encourage the hiring manager to keep reading. Remember to use as many powerful action verbs and job specific information as you can. Be sure to reread the job description to form an image of the ideal candidate for the role. Your resume summary is the best place to show hiring managers that you meet their needs.
The summary is a great place to add in the most important skills or knowledge mentioned in the job description in order to beat the ATS – just make sure to keep this section personable and easy to read for the hiring manager since this is the one place you'll be able to speak to them directly on your resume.
Check out the summary section from our correctional officer resume sample:
Dedicated correctional officer with over 10 years of experience working with the Massachusetts State Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation. Bringing forth the ability to command the respect and compliance of inmates while working to foster a safe and peaceful environment. Experience with investigations, gang related interventions, staff development, and prison intelligence. Proven track record of implementing safety procedures and avoiding inmate escapes and disturbances. Passionate about contributing to the safety of all prisoners and staff members, while also helping to rehabilitate prisoners.
Employment history sample
The employment history section is the place to get into all the details of your previous experience and why you're the right candidate for the role. To structure this section, create small headings with the job title, employer name, location and dates worked. Underneath, you'll want to include 4-5 bullet points that describe your responsibilities and achievements. Use specific action verbs to convey how you made a difference and the results you delivered to your previous employers.
Here's the employment history section from our correctional officer resume example:
- Greeted residents and visitors with a kind and helpful attitude.
- Supervised the daily activities of 800+ inmates.
- Maintained a safe and peaceful atmosphere by using early intervention tactics with disruptive or violent inmates.
- Conducted safety audits daily.
- Supervised 100+ employees and trained new employees.
- Implemented and enforced all security procedures.
- Successfully restrained inmates when necessary.
- Monitored inmates and documented any strange or alarming occurrences.
- Worked to ensure compliance with Department of Corrections policies.
Correctional officer resume education example
While correctional officers may not need to hold advanced degrees, any training or education you've completed can be a big bonus in helping you land the job. List all certifications here as well and include the name of the program, school, location and dates attended. Any honors or distinctions should be noted here as well. If you hold a degree higher than a bachelors degree, you may leave your high school off of your resume.
See how to format your education section with this excerpt from our correctional officer resume example:
- 2001-2005 Redding High School, High School Diploma Redding, MA
- 2005-2008 Amherst College, Associate of Criminal Justice Amherst, MA
CV skills example
The skills sectio n on your CV is the place to drive home all your most important attributes and knowledge. The bullet point format of this section means it's a great place to highlight skills that can be conveyed in only a few words. Scan the job description once more for any hard skills like special techniques or safety knowledge that can be added here. Although it may be tempting to fill this section with "hard skills" – abilities that require specialized knowledge – you should also make sure to add in a few of your soft skills that show what type of coworker and person you are. In the excerpt below from our correctional officer resume sample, you'll see a handful of soft skills like decision making and critical thinking.
- Rehabilitation Methods
- Critical Thinking Skills
- Personal and Team Safety Skills
- Restraint Techniques
- Excellent Judgment and Decision-Making Skills
Resume layout and design
While your skills and experience might be the most important thing on a correctional officer resume sample, the formatting and design plays a key role in getting a hiring manager to take notice. A professional layout shows the employer that you take this government job seriously and are committed to seeing the application process through. Start your resume with an attractive header that includes your name and contact information in an easy-to-read format (find a good model for this in the resume example at the top of this page!) Make sure to keep a healthy balance of white space to text that ensures readability and helps avoid visual fatigue for the reader.
- Keep your resume to a length of one page
- Choose a neutral color palette
- Use a simple template to help you format your header
- Overload the page with too much text
- Include more than two different font styles
- Submit a resume with spelling and grammar mistakes
Key takeaways for a correctional officer resume
- A resume is a key tool in helping you land your next correctional officer position – make sure yours is full of all your relevant skills and experience for the best chance of impressing the hiring manager.
- An attractive and simple header helps keep your name and contact information at the forefront of your document.
- We recommend the reverse chronological format as the best option for candidates with at least some level of related experience.
- Don't forget to include a balance of hard and soft skills as shown on our correctional officer resume example.