Your resume is the first impression you make, and first impressions are important. You only get one. As Legal Recruiters, we read dozens of resumes a day so we know what works. Research has proven that the average resume gets looked at for quick six seconds. For this reason, your resume needs to be concise, easy to read, and especially easy to digest. It also means that sometimes “less is more.”
In case you want more guidance, Here is a quick resume checklist:
- Your contact information at the top: Name, Address, email address and telephone number. (Use a telephone number where the recruiter and/or potential employer can reach you during the day and that you don’t mind them calling.)
- Headings for Education, Legal Experience, Other Relevant Experience, Licenses/Certifications and, if applicable, Publications and/or Community Involvement.
- Optional Info: Cover letter, Career Summary, Outside Interests. We are not fans of Objectives or Mission Statements. They take up valuable space and are rarely read. (When they are read, they can work against you if the objective you’ve stated doesn’t square with the job you’re applying for.)
- HR personnel and headhunters review hundreds of resumes and appreciate succinct resumes that clearly describe your legal experience – what did you do and how did you fit into the organization? Here’s the best way to present your jobs:
- Every Job you list under Experience should have the name of the company, city, and dates (month/year) you were employed there on the first line.
- On the second line of each job entry, indicate your title and group or department. On subsequent lines, describe the core business of the company and your role within the company, broadly.
- On subsequent lines, describe the specifics of your role, either in narrative form or in bullet points.
- Resumes are not a “one size fits all.” Tailor your resume to the specific opportunity, highlighting what is most relevant.
- As a general rule, make your resume one page if you’re a new attorney, with the length increasing as you gain more experience, but no longer than 3 pages ever.
- Use simple designs, minimizing the number of fonts and font sizes, but don’t be afraid to do things like make your name larger, bold headings, etc. You want to mix things up to a point.
- Get someone to review your resume for formatting consistency, typos, and grammar errors before you send it to anyone, including a recruiter.