RESUME BUILDING TIPS
Your resume is your calling card for seeking employment. Its sole purpose is to get you an interview; therefore, presentation and content are both extremely important. The old saying “You never have a second chance to make a first impression” cannot be more true when it comes to resumes. Your resume is not only your first impression, it becomes a permanent part of your personnel file when you are hired. Bearing these facts in mind, we offer some tips and suggestions regarding using this tool to get the interview, pass the reference evaluation, and maintain employability. We hope this improves your job hunting experience!
- The first impression of your resume is its format and readability. Law firms typically like traditional formats, e.g., name and contact information either centered or justified to the left, followed by work history in bullet format, in a descending order beginning with the most recent.
- When using bullets to outline your duties and responsibilities, be sure to make your descriptions interesting starting with action verbs, proper tense, and avoid redundancy.
- Use one easy-to-read font along with enlarging, bolding and italicizing important details such as your name, contact information, employers, titles and month/year employment dates. Please ensure your email address is appropriate for professional use.
- Only use an Objective if you plan to tailor it every time you submit a resume. As a general rule, if accompanied by a cover letter or submitted by a recruiter, leave out the Objective and allow your cover letter or recruiter to introduce your employment goals.
- There is no need for a Summary, generally noting soft skills such as “strong organizational skills,” “team player,” “technically oriented,” etc. Instead, tailor your job descriptions/responsibilities to demonstrate tasks requiring these traits.
- Choose your job descriptions carefully, making them informative yet concise regarding tasks and responsibilities. A helpful hint for job seekers is to remember that experience is the most important component of a resume, and hiring professionals use this information to compare the tasks and responsibilities listed to those they are actively seeking.
- When describing your experience, utilize action verbs. Action verbs like created, implemented, developed, coordinated, and provided tend to demonstrate positive activity and successful contributions to the hiring professional.
- Include any validated accomplishments towards the end of the job description.
- If tenure is brief in two or more positions, it is suggested to include your reasons for leaving on the last line of the job description, especially when following attorneys, layoffs or mergers are the catalysts. Remember to be consistent when listing reasons for leaving on application if mentioned on your resume.
- Always indicate in the title when the status is/was a contract or temporary position. This needs to be consistent when listing titles and reasons for leaving. Be sure to note the employment agency for verification.
- In this traditional format, Skills, Associations and Awards should be placed at the end of your resume. Since this section will list proper names, be sure to know the correct spelling, capitalization, spacing and dashes, e.g., “iManage” and “PowerPoint”. When unsure, check the web site(s) to seek clarification.
- It is perfectly acceptable to state References Provided Upon Request. Another option is to attach an additional page listing references including names, titles, contact information and the relationships. Be sure to confirm that the contact information is current and inform each contact of potential callers.
- Whenever possible, keep your resume to two pages or less. Tip: Try changing font sizes, font styles, and/or margins to accomplish this, though beware of using font sizes and styles that may be difficult to read.
- The second page should have a page number and your name, or first initial/last name, for easy identification from other resumes. e.g.: J. Doe – Page 2
- All employment history should include months with years. Increasingly, law firms often reject resumes without months and be sure that your employment dates are accurate. If there is ANY question, call former employers or review past pay-stubs for clarification. The legal community relies on employment (and salary) verifications in addition to references. Some firms conduct background checks which verify ALL information as far back as the information is attainable. Remember this document becomes part of your permanent employment record and any discrepancies can lead to termination at ANY time during your active employment with the firm.
- Proofread, proofread, proofread!!! Here are some helpful proofreading tips: First, remember to use spell check. Second, read your resume out-loud; this often spots grammatical errors and/or missing words. Third, read your resume backwards (yes, backwards) to catch typos you may have missed. Lastly, have a trusted friend proofread. We suggest printing and reviewing for formatting consistency.
- Follow the directions offered for submitting resumes. When a firm requests resumes transmitted via e-mail, proceed accordingly. Do not stray from instructions or call unless invited.
- When sending your resume as an e-mail attachment, use a Word document and utilize spell check for both the e-mail and cover letter. Tip: Set the formatting for 100% zoom, Print Layout view and turn off Show/Hide Formatting Marks for the best online presentation possible.