Legal Resume Tips
Employers typically spend one minute or less looking at your resume. A good resume is concise and accurate and should interest and inform the employer concerning your unique abilities and skills. Pay attention to the following guidelines to make sure that you are not overlooked or dismissed.
- General Format - The resume generally has three sections: education, professional experience, and skills.
- Education - The Education section typically precedes the Professional Experience section in your resume unless you have been out of law school for several years and have significant work experience that is especially relevant to the job you are seeking.
- Professional Experience - The Professional Experience section is usually the most difficult to write since this section provides details and descriptions of volunteer or unpaid positions along with paid positions. It is important to organize this information prior to writing your resume. At this point you will want to take some time to identify substantive activity you performed for each job listed. Descriptions are everything in this section, since they capture the scope of your experience and accomplishments. Create a vivid picture of the type of work you have done and the extent of your responsibilities and create them by using short, concise sentences in bullet format.
- Skills - The Skills section is generally for listing in one easy to find place all of the software and other applicable skills acquired at every place of employment usually in a bulleted form. When scanning the resume, it provides a quick one stop shop for listing such things as Concordance, Summation, MS Office Suite, Excel, Lexis Nexus, or any other proprietary software used of note.
- Length - The general rule of limiting to one page is not necessarily true. Typically, one page is just not enough room to list substantive information, hence, feel free to use a second page, leaving references for a third page altogether.
- Appearance - The resume should be easy to read or scan along the left-hand margin and completely free of typos. Your resume and cover letter should be on white paper using Times New Roman 11 or 12 pt. font.
- Style Tips - The name in the heading is almost always centered in bold and a somewhat larger font at the top margin. Your address should be included as well as a reliable phone number. These entries are typically centered underneath the name and are generally two points smaller than the name. Make sure your email address does not include unprofessional words. It is appropriate to use bold-face print to emphasize your name, institution, and employment company. As an option, use italics to designate awards, honors, or activities as well as undergraduate/graduate major(s), and job titles.
For more information on writing your resume and to download the full Legal Resume Tip Sheet, click here.