This article applies to all types of legal professionals and candidates – from attorneys and paralegals to legal administrators and support staff. We should all be interested in constantly perfecting our legal resumes. This is because the document is one of the most critical tools for landing new jobs and exploring new opportunities. In the quest for perfection, we must all know that there are certain things that candidates can never ever have on their resumes. If you take a look at yours and you see any of these, delete them immediately.
Lies and Exaggerations
If you didn’t attend Harvard Law School, then don’t say you did in your resume. If you worked as a paralegal for a small firm in Seattle, don’t exaggerate and say you worked for a major Seattle firm. There is simply no room on a resume for lies and exaggerations.
Please keep in mind the following:
- If a firm discovers that a candidate lied on his resume (post hiring), the firm will fire the candidate. If the candidate is a lawyer, the firm could also report him to the state bar.
- If a candidate lies or exaggerates as to the hours worked/billed in past positions, and they get caught, the candidate’s reputation in the legal community will get hurt forever.
Lies and exaggerations will also damage a candidate’s over-all respect and trustworthiness.
Immaterial Work Experience/Education
Here’s a general rule to follow. If you have information on your resume that is not related to practicing law, or working in the legal field, delete it. Immaterial work experience and education will go ignored and may even annoy an employer. Annoyance is never a good thing.
Examples of immaterial items that are delete worthy include:
- Running your own business;
- Past jobs with no connection to working in the legal industry (e.g., waiter, nanny, general laborer, etc.);
- Grades in college and law school classes; and,
- Papers you authored in college or law school, unless they are directly linked to the practice of law;
Also note that if you are applying for a general position, such as “litigator,” “office manager,” or “administrator,” don’t include on your resume activities for that position that everyone else in that position does. For example, if you served as a junior attorney in a past role, you don’t have to say that, in that role, you conducted legal research or drafted motions. An employer will already know this.
Negative Comments about a Past Employer
This just looks bad and casts you in a negative light. No matter the situation, avoid hostile or critical statements about any past employers or positions. Again, you’ll annoy the company you’re applying to. Further, the company may instantly file your resume in the garbage to avoid any potentially negative comments you may have about them.
Information that Could Alienate or Polarize
One goal in drafting a resume is to make the reader like you. In fact, the reader should like you so much that they want to speak to you more during an interview. Therefore, delete any information in your resume that may cause a disconnection between you and the reader.
For example, avoid information as to your:
- Religious background;
- Political affiliation;
- Sexual orientation;
- Liberal ideas; and even,
Consider Doug. Doug volunteered for the National Democratic Convention while earning his paralegal certificate. He applies for a position at the firm of Jones Barney. Mr. Barney holds views and opinions on the extreme right-wing of the political spectrum. After reading Doug’s volunteer experience, what are the chances he’ll invite Doug for an interview?
Candidates can never under-estimate the power within a resume. Resumes are incredibly important documents and they have to get drafted flawlessly. Do us a favor. Please carefully review your resume. If you discover it contains any information discussed in this article, delete it now. If you have questions if something should get discarded, simply contact us and we can discuss. LAW DAWGS is always here to answer any questions you may have!