Forensic science can be defined as the application of scientific methods and principles to solve crimes and other types of legal issues. In most criminal cases, a forensic scientist is typically involved in looking for and examining many kinds of physical evidence that can help establishing a link between a suspect of committing a crime and the scene of the crime or victim. Forensics is now a more popular subject since several TV shows became successful, such as Crime Scene Investigation (CSI).
However, very few people realize that being a CSI or forensic professional can be a very good career alternative. One can put forward many reasons that make forensic science one of the best career prospects nowadays. The reasons range from labor market, salaries, benefits to training availability and beyond.
The availability of jobs for someone seeking to be a forensic professional used to be very small for a long time until about five years ago, when many technological and scientific advances started to develop and provided new kinds of tools that substantially improved the efficiency of the police and security forces in solving crimes and other problems. As a consequence, most law enforcement agencies and other institutions greatly expanded their resources and facilities in order to increase their ability to employing techniques and methodologies of forensic science.
Even though police departments alone employ (and keep hiring) thousands of people coming from diverse areas of forensic work and with many different educational backgrounds, police is not the only alternative for those looking for a job related to forensic science or criminal justice. Methods and concepts of forensic science are increasingly being used by many other institutions for diverse purposes so the job market for forensics is greater than ever. Companies that develop, improve and produce tools, reagents, kits and devices to be used in forensic investigation are also a good part of the available job market. The size of the job market and the opportunities associated greatly increase if one considers working abroad. Besides the United States, countries like Britain and Australia are also part of this trend.
Being a discipline that relies strongly on technology, working in forensic science requires the acquisition of certain skills. This means somebody wanting to work in forensics needs at least some sort of higher education. The type of degree and the length of the program vary largely and depend on the kind of work one is interested in doing. Some positions require higher degrees such as Ph.D. or Masters, but many more posts can be taken after a short course of one or two years earned at smaller private academies.
But these requirements are not a big obstacle to be sorted out if one considers the many benefits of working for a forensic department. Positions at police agencies and other law enforcement institutions are often accompanied by substantial benefits and competitive salaries and, best of all, good prospects of stability and professional growth along with an aura of social approval typically associated with law and order public service. These and many other reasons make forensic science on of the best career alternatives available today.
The latest jobs report published stated that 80,000 new jobs were added in October. This is great news but we are still strapped with an unemployment rate of 9.0%. Depending on which Job Board you look at there are quite a number of job opportunities listed so the question remains how do you navigate the Job Market?
Before the explosion of social media and high tech search techniques submitting your resume and waiting for a response from a prospective employer was just about all you had to do. Those days are long gone and new techniques have to be employed in order for you to increase your opportunities. Let’s face it; there are no magic bullets that will land you a job, but there are certainly steps you can take to improve your chances. We outline 5 ways to navigate the job market to shorten your new career search.
1. Develop an On-line presence. It was recently reported that 86% of Recruiters utilize social media to identify job candidates. You should develop a professional profile on all the popular social media sites. Sites such as LinkedIn™ offer you the ability to not only list your profile but also to network with professionals with similar backgrounds. Facebook™ is also excellent for you to develop a professional profile to communicate with your friends and family about career opportunities.
2. Referrals. Referrals from employees, alumni and others represent approximately 27% of positions filled by companies. You should immediately reach out to friends who work for companies you are interested in. Be sure to let them know you are in the job market and provide them with a copy of your resume [electronic preferred]. Employers always reach out to employees first before posting jobs on job boards or seeking the assistance of recruiters.
3. Job boards. There are many popular sites companies use such as Career Builder™, Monster™, DICE™ et al. These sites are used by companies and recruiters to identify candidates who are in the job market. If you utilize any of these sites be sure to regularly update your resume as some companies use date parameters when sourcing for candidates.
4. Resume Marketing. Resumes were once considered a document to list your work history and education information. Resumes are now viewed as your most important marketing document. This document should now include a value proposition statement and documentation of past performance and results. Your resume is literally the one document that prospective employers look at to determine if they want to consider you for a phone screen. It must be tailored specifically to the job you are applying for. Be sure your resume is well written and keyword rich. Keywords are usually found in the job description and prospective company’s mission statement.
5. Persistence and patience. It was recently reported that professionals can expect to spend an average 44 weeks in the job market. Knowing that there are many qualified professionals just like you looking for work you have to look for ways to gain an edge. Just like the profession of sales; the job search is also a numbers game. You have to understand as well that it is a full time activity and in order to shorten your job search time you have to work hard at it.
As the economy begins to improve more companies will be looking for qualified employees. Be mindful that today’s employer is very selective and know that they have many choices of qualified candidates. Knowing how to navigate this tough job market will help you find that new rewarding career.