Polishing Your Legal Resume

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Resume — The presentation in a formal document or form of a person’s employment history and skills they possess.” 
-Oxford’s English Dictionary



I’ve been really inspired to do a monthly theme for my posts, and this month, I decided on the theme of professional development.  My first post is on what I consider to probably be one of the most important things a law student has, your legal resume!  I’ve had an ever changing resume draft since high school; however, a professional resume needs to highlight the skills you can bring to a potential employer.  Read on for tips on how to perfect your resume!

Contact Information

The first thing on your resume should be your contact information to ensure that interviewers and hiring committees know how to contact you.  Personally, I suggest utilizing your law school email to maintain a professional feel.  Don’t use an email you made in the fifth grade (we all have them, and they’re all embarrassing).  Additionally, if your permanent address is different than where you live at law school, definitely include both, especially if you’re looking for a position near your hometown.  Also, put a phone number where you’ll reliably pick up or have a voicemail connected to ensure you receive any messages from potential employers.

Education

The first section in your resume should be related to your educational background, starting with your law school.  Included in your law school section should be your GPA, rank, and any activities you’re involved with at law school.  For college, the same information is included; however, your major, minor, and any honors should be included.  If you wrote a thesis during your years in college, include its name in your college section.  Personally, most interviewers don’t ask me about my thesis, but that’s likely because mine was about chemistry.  This section takes up a large section of a resume, but it’s important information employers like to see.

Experience

Besides your contact information, this actually is probably one of the most important sections of a resume.  It showcases the work you have done that will help you in the job you applied for.  Your employment should be listed most recent to least.  If you currently have more than one job, list the one that started more recently first.  More important than where you worked is listing accomplishments that set you apart.  I typically like to have two bullet points listing out my experience, except for some jobs that are self-explanatory, like tour guide during college.  As you gain more experience, those jobs that aren’t as relevant can be removed from your resume.  One thing to remember while you’re writing about your experience is to really showcase what you did; using verbs really helps in this.

Skills and Interests

I think of this last section as being a way to showcase your personality.  I include that I run a law school blog on mine, and you’d be surprised how many times this comes up in an interview.  Really, I find this section to show companies that you have interests outside of law school and that you don’t spend all of your time studying.

A last word of advice is to make sure you proofread your resume with a fine tooth comb.  Since a resume is the first thing that an employer sees, it needs to be perfect.  Things I ensure are perfect are the periods at the end of your sentences, spelling, and grammar.  Have another person look over your resume to spot any mistakes you might have missed when you reviewed it.

What other themes would you like to see in the coming months?  I have some ideas, but would love to hear what you guys would like to read!

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