By Randi Lewis, Esq.
Are you getting ready to update your resume to search for your first full time job as a lawyer? Here are 10 Tips to help your resume make it to the top of the stack:
Tip No. 1 - The Five Second Rule. Legal recruitment professionals review hundreds, sometimes thousands, of resumes per year. List your education, grades (see below), honors and important activities at the top of your resume in bullet points, not in a string cite, so they are able to be read within 5 seconds, the time it takes to decide whether to read on or to place your resume in the “no pile.”
Tip No. 2 - The Font & The Format. The text should be no smaller than 11 point in Times New Roman, Garamond or Georgia. Headings should be in larger font and bold. The format should be compatible with OCI+ and reader-friendly for receipt by email.
Tip No. 3 - The Order. List education first and experience second (even if you are a second career law student). List experience first only after practicing for at least 5 years.
Tip No. 4 - Honors, Law Review and Activities. Group all honors, law review/journal positions and law school activities with your law school. Similarly, keep all undergraduate honors and activities with college information.
Tip No. 5 - Law School Grades. A general rule of thumb: list law school grades if they are a 3.0 or better.
Tip No. 6 - Undergraduate & Graduate School Grades. Another general rule: list undergraduate and graduate school grades if they are a 3.0 or better EVEN IF law school grades are below a 3.0. (Reason: if you don’t, the reader may assume you received less than a 3.0 in law school, grad school and college.)
Tip No. 7 - Employment Achievements. Where possible, describe your employment in terms of substantive work and/or successes, keeping descriptions short to use as talking points in your interview. Example: “Drafted successful motions to dismiss in contract dispute, securities fraud case and products liability matter.”
Tip No. 8 - Use Action Words. Use action words to add power to your resume. Examples: prepared; analyzed; collaborated; managed; led; devised; researched; drafted.
Tip No. 9 - Bulletize and Italicize. Use bullet points and italics to add visual interest and help guide your reader.
Tip No. 10 - Proofread. Always proofread your resume several times to ensure there are no typographical or grammatical errors.