The greatest adventure starts with a single step. Landing a job you always wanted starts with writing a killer lawyer resume that grabs the attention and makes you stand out.
A strong resume can help set you apart from other candidates, and it will give you a better chance of getting called for an interview where you can show everyone how you can become an important asset in their law firm.
You might be wondering if there’s anything you should leave out or if the fact you are a people person is considered relevant information. Continue reading and you’ll find out what it takes to write a winning lawyer resume.
1. Keep it short and to the point
A legal resume is not the place to show off your writing skills. In truth, the recruiter will probably quickly scan the document first.
To make sure your resume doesn’t get thrown away because it takes too much effort to read, you need to keep it short.
As a rule of thumb, your entire resume should be contained to a single page, unless you have more than five years of experience. But even if you are experienced, it doesn’t mean you should exceed two pages.
Keeping your resume concise is just common sense as you don’t want to risk burying the relevant information in the sea of useless info. Everything you put into a resume should be aiming to prove how perfect you are for the job.
The number of your years in the profession should also play a role in the order you present information. If you have less than five years in the industry, you should list your education first (including school honors). The opposite goes if you have more than five years of experience.
2. Make sure your resume is easily scannable
Your resume also needs to be easy to read. Put your experience in bulleted lists, and remember to make use of headings and bolded words. All of this will make your resume easier to scan.
Readability is key, and contrary to what you may see in resume templates online, it’s not the best practice to put your employer name or dates of employment on the right side of the resume. Most lawyers prefer to read down. So for example, you should organize in this fashion:
- Company, City, State
Title, Month and Year – Present
But if you want your CV to pop out more, you can use online design tools to make your resume more visually appealing.
However, this doesn’t mean you should go overboard with wild colors or fonts. This is still the legal field we’re talking about.
3. Modify your resume for a specific position
Your resume should be updated and modified before you apply for a new position.
Do a bit of research on the required skill set for the job and the types of cases you’ll be dealing with. Then, tweak your resume to be in line with what the employer needs.
The information and experience you list in your resume should highlight the skills useful for the job you are applying for. If you are applying for a litigation position, for example, you can include the briefs you’ve worked on.
4. Include relevant skills
This means legal-specific skills, as well as interpersonal skills.
For example, when it comes to interpersonal skills, you can mention your adaptability or problem-solving ability, as well as your attention to detail and a knack for organization.
On the other hand, include legal-specific things you are good at. If you possess a high level of proficiency with arguments and oral communication, you should mention it in your resume.
However, don’t waste valuable space by writing that you have good basic computer skills (it’s 2021, this should be standard) or something similar. Instead, mention the different kinds of legal technology you are proficient with such as legal document software.
5. Make sure your language is on point
Your language also plays a role in how your resume is perceived. This is where action verbs are very useful. Apart from conveying meaning more effectively, action verbs also help you stand out if your employer is using an applicant tracking system to check for keywords in documents.
Example action verbs include:
So, in practice, you should use action verbs in your resume as follows:
‘’Advised a Random Business Organization on FBPA act.’’
6. Make it personal (but not too personal)
Listing your hobbies and interests can give your employer a better idea of who you are. Occasionally, these things can become useful ice-breakers in interviews.
However, you should still only list interests that are relevant to the profession and show your positive traits, such as self-discipline.
Everything you list does need to be appropriate. Use your common sense and avoid disclosing information such as your religion, political views, or sexual orientation.
7. Proofread twice
If your resume has a typo, it will make you come across as unprofessional. Proofread your document from top to bottom multiple times, and get rid of any typos or grammatical errors.
Additionally, you can also ask a friend to go through the resume. Sometimes, an outsider will spot a mistake you completely overlooked.
In addition, you can choose from a handful of online writing tools such as Grammarly to do a quick scan and fix any errors. This app can be a life-saver, plus it’s free so you’ve got nothing to lose
Getting your foot in the door
It doesn’t matter whether you’re an ace attorney because if your resume is lacking, someone who’s less experienced might scoop the position, solely on the strength of their CV.
Your resume is your sales pitch and your first and last opportunity to create a lasting impression at a first glance.
This is why a strong legal resume is important. You only get about five seconds to prove your worth to the law firm you are applying for. It would be a shame not to land the job of your dreams just because you didn’t use bullet points or your resume is three or more pages long.
There’s no time to lose, so open up your CV, and get to work following these tips. They just might be what it takes to get your foot in the door.