29 Tips To Help You Advance Your Criminal Justice Career

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Brought to you by investigative and security specialist Alan Hazen – an adjunct faculty member at Saint Joseph’s University.

Over the past number of years students and agents who I worked with would ask, how do I get into the field, how does one advance and or get promoted? Is there something I can do to better prepare?

My basic advice and comments were: In dealing with other cultures, a diverse community and a significant amount of talent to select from in the workforce, consider these factors:

  1. Do you speak a second or third language fluently? Learn one new word of a new language a day. Learn to speak, read, and write the word. If you know the 50 key words of any language, you can communicate in that language. You want to become bi-literate rather than bilingual.
  2. What is the level of your computer skills? Try to learn something new on the computer every week.
  3. How well read are you in the area of criminal justice? What is your favorite topic in CJ? That is the arena you need to begin developing an expertise.
  4. Do you have a mentor? Find one or more. This is imperative.
  5. Do you make your supervisor's job easier? The answer should always be yes. If you are making the supervisor’s job more difficult, you may become NFL with your employer. NFL stands for “Not For Long.”
  6. Are you preparing for your next job? Start today.
  7. Do you subscribe to journals, publications and or organizations specific to the career you are looking to be employed within? Obtain this in the field you are most interested.
  8. How many newspapers do you read a day? Read or glance over at least three. Online makes this very easy.
  9. Do you have key words that are downloaded from Google, Yahoo or some other search engine every day?
  10. Have you looked at the requirements of the next job or position you hope to obtain? Do you meet the qualifications? You should be exceeding the minimum requirements.
  11. How well rounded do you consider yourself?
  12. Have you taken at least two or three courses in economics and finance?
  13. Have you taken at least two or three courses in business and marketing?
  14. How many friends do you have who want to be in the same field as you?
  15. How many friends do you have in a completely different field and interest?
  16. How diverse and big is your network?
  17. Do you have a hobby that is a passion?
  18. How well traveled are you?
  19. How much do you know about the demographics of your community?
  20. How much do you know about the crime in your community, and state?
  21. Do you exercise?
  22. Do you eat right?
  23. Do you get enough sleep?
  24. Always look to improve your writing skills. Better writers will make more money in their career than those who write poorly.
  25. Always look to improve your oral presentation skills. You may only have a matter of seconds to make a first impression. Select your words wisely.
  26. It is important to know what your body language is saying. Your words may say one thing but your body language is saying something different.
  27. Do you have a short-, medium-, and long-range plan for a variety of things in your life?
  28. Do you give back and volunteer. Helping others is not only right it is noble.
  29. Never stop going to school. You will need to be a life long learner.

Your future in Criminal Justice or any other field is based on preparation. There is no substitute for preparation. You should be doing something every day to prepare for your tomorrow.

Preparation comes with making a valid assessment of who and what we want. Only the person looking back at you in the mirror can answer that.

If we are serious about our occupation and career, we will prepare appropriately. If we fail to prepare properly then others will be selected before us. We should not want to be left behind.

The field of law enforcement and criminal justice will need the best and brightest of this generation and the next.

The challenges and issues will be significantly beyond those confronted by the baby boomers, who are or who have exited the arena.

The baton is being passed and it is hopefully in your dedicated and prepared hands.

About the Author

Alan Hazen is an investigative and security specialist who teaches at Saint Joseph’s University.

Alan is experienced in international training having traveled on behalf of the United States Department of Justice and the Agency for International Development numerous times to Africa, the Middle East, Europe, and the Caribbean.

Alan was the President of the National Association for Bank Security between 2006 and 2008.

Alan comes with extensive experience in law enforcement. He retired as the U.S. Department of Justice, Office of the Inspector General, Special Agent in Charge for the Southeast United States and Caribbean (1989-2005). He served as a Supervisory Special Agent with the U.S. Department of Justice, Immigration, and Naturalization Service in Washington DC (1987-1989).

Alan also served with the U.S. Agency for International Development as the Regional Inspector General for Investigations in Cairo, Egypt and Africa (1978-1987). Alan began his career with the New York State Special Prosecutor's Officer, investigating corruption in the New York City Criminal Justice System (1972-1978).

While with DOJ/OIG, Alan was part of a team that traveled worldwide providing foreign government officials, which included judges, prosecutors, and investigators training in detecting, investigating, and prosecuting corruption cases.

Hazen has cumulative experience dealing with such criminal matters as corruption, ethics, organized crime, white-collar crime, terrorism, narcotics, property crime, civil rights abuse, computer crime, financial crime, and violent crime. He has extensive background in major cases, including undercover operations, use of confidential informants, technical equipment, and physical surveillance.

He has developed graduate level curriculum in Homeland Security and Terrorism, and holds a Master's degree in Criminal Justice from Eastern Kentucky University.

For more information about the Master’s in Criminal Justice program from Saint Joseph’s University, request information below.

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