If you're a recent law graduate and have had the benefit of focused advice and counseling from your law school's Career Services office, you are probably well-versed in the following basic resume preparation guidelines.
However, if you have not recently received resume counseling, you may find it very worthwhile to review some of the basics. Here are some key tips to ensure that you are putting your best foot forward during every step of the job-hunting process.
Don't send the same generic resume out for every job opening.
Yes, crafting a new resume can be tedious and time-consuming, especially if you're applying to a number of jobs. Yet if you're not doing so, you're not tailoring your description of your past experience to the specific needs of the hiring company – which is a key mistake.
Don't simply list job responsibilities.
While you do want to let potential employers know what you've done in the past, stating the positions you've had and a dry rundown of what you've done will not win you any points. In many practice settings in the legal world, it's assumed that your roles include certain responsibilities. The job of your resume is to highlight what you've excelled at and what you've accomplished, not to act as a rote recitation of basic core skills.
Don't have an endless resume.
Try to keep it to one page, unless you've been working for many years. Multi-page resumes are unwieldy and easy to lose.
Don't make the reader need a magnifying glass to read your resume.
Yes, you want to have as much information as possible there, but it should also be easily readable. Going below an 11-point font could be a recipe for disaster, as you risk having your resume confused with a Unibomber manifesto.
Don't use flash, graphics, or colored paper.
Your background and experience should speak for itself; going with anything too cutesy or eye-catching is risky, and may backfire. That might have a better chance of working in a creative field, but not in the legal profession.
Don't get too personal.
While it's fine to include some of your hobbies and interest on your resume, don't go overboard, and steer clear of anything that might be controversial, such as political affiliation. While it's unlikely that someone reading your resume will look down on a person who plays ice hockey as a hobby, the same can not be said for a political activist who happens to be on the other side of the reader's personal politics.
While these tips are somewhat basic, it can be surprising just how many resumes flagrantly flaunt at least one of these, and how many jobs are lost as a result. Don't let your resume be one of those that works against you, rather than for you.
This article was provided to JD Diversity by Lawmatch. Lawmatch is a leading internet legal employment website providing hiring employers tools to advertise attorney job searches and search for qualified legal professionals.
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The Howard University School of Law New York Alumni Association has graciously prepared the following exclusive survival guide for New York bar exam takers. It's chock-full of real talk on how to get through the months before the bar. If you're taking the New York bar exam this summer, you need this in your life.
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We realize that many of you are gearing up to take the bar exam this coming summer. In most cases, before taking the exam you will have to fill out a long drawn-out application and go through an intense character and fitness investigation. And during this process, make no mistake--you will be vetted! Here are some tips on what you can do now to make the ‘Character-and-Fitness’ application and investigation process run more smoothly.
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