11 Things You Might Not Have Thought Of When Writing Your Legal Resume
Melissa Pollack spent 6 years working in the recruiting departments at some of the nation’s top law firms including Simpson Thacher, White & Case and Sonnenschein. She has been helping attorneys prepare their resumes and prepare for interviews for over 10 years.
- Your resume should be ONE page long. The only exceptions are very senior-level attorneys and CV’s written for non-U.S. positions. (Honestly, employers will never get to that second page!)
- Your resume can be in bullet point format or paragraph format. Not both. Pick one and stick to it!
- If you’ve been out of school more than five years, your education needs to be AFTER your work experience.
- Once you’ve graduated law school, honors from college should be kept to a minimum. You should only include things that are easily recognized (Phi Beta Kappa, for example) or are directly pertinent to your job search (for example – if you’re applying to an intellectual property position and you won an award for a scientific-related accomplishment, you can include that).
- Make sure that your verb tenses are correct – your current job should be in present tense, all prior jobs in past tense. (There are exceptions – for example, if, at your current job, you completed a specific project or worked on a specific case that will not be repeated, you can put that in the past tense.)
- If you are going to use your cell phone number for employers to contact you, make sure that when you answer any call, you can focus on the call. Employers will be very annoyed if they have to shout “Can you interview on Thursday at 4?” over and over again because you answered your cell phone on the subway platform.
- If you are currently employed, do NOT use your work email address for any job related emails.
- Attorneys/Law Students: Only include your GPA if it was 3.4 or better. And don’t try to tweak it to make it look better than it was – employers will request a transcript before an offer is made, and getting caught will likely result in you not getting an offer!
- Feel free to include volunteer activities, awards and interests, but not at the expense of substantive job descriptions. However, understand that your non-work activities may not match up politically or ethically with your employer. (For example, if you volunteered for a political campaign, your interviewer might have supported the other candidate. It might make for an interesting discussion at an interview, or it might lead to your resume not being selected.)
- PDF your resume before you send it. If an employer has a different version of Microsoft Word, your spacing could easily get messed up and it looks unprofessional.
- Computer ate your resume? If you lost access to your resume for whatever reason call your previous employer – companies are required, by law, to hold on to your personnel file for 7 years. Ask them to send you a hard copy – you can at least re-type your old information so you don’t have to start from scratch!
Let Melissa help you with your legal resume. Request her at the JL Approved Resume Service !
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