Your resume is an important piece of your career. Like any other career, it’s good to make sure you keep it up to date with all of your activities as an attorney. You never know when you may need to use it when a good opportunity arises. Generally, you should go through and update your resume once a year. If you are just starting out, or simply need to refresh your legal resume, here are some tips to follow:
Key Resume Rules
Keep it clear and concise.
No matter how long you take to write out and edit your resume, the truth is that a hiring manager will probably spend roughly 10 to 30 seconds looking at it. Because of this short time span, you want to make sure your resume is clear and straight to the point. It’s essential to highlight key experiences, accomplishments, education and more in the most concise manner. The key is to get rid of the paragraph format; bullet points are the easiest way to highlight information. In addition, keep your bullet points short and simple. In other words, every word in that line should have a reason for being there.
Write. Edit. Review.
Your resume should be treated carefully. It’s the first impression an employer has of your and any spelling to grammatical mistakes can deter them from asking you to come in for an interview. Besides spelling and grammatical errors, you should make sure the overall layout flows well visually. Making sure everything is lined up correctly can make that much of a difference in the overall resume presentation.
Keep the wording active; passive words, such as “that” and “was”, and use more words that reflect the actions you did at work. Also, using sentence fragments are fine. For example, “Researched litigation statues for senior attorneys” instead of “I researched litigation statutes for civil procedure cases for senior attorneys”.
Appearance is everything.
Your resume is like a storybook of your career. You want to make sure it outshines all of the other books within the stack. They say you should never judge a book by its cover, but in the case of resumes, that is not true. Your resume should stand out compared to the others that the hiring manager may see. This may mean that you use a special format or template, ensure your accomplishments are bold and placed in a spot that will not be overlooked, and neatly laid out.
If your future employer cannot find your education easily on your resume, then that can be a problem. Use bold and italic fonts to draw in their attention. Also, be consistent; all sections of your resume should follow the same format. Also, don’t be afraid of white space;: it gives your resume a chance to breathe and doesn’t make the text appear chaotic and bunched together. Finally, think about saving your resume as a PDF. PDFs are easy to open on all computer systems, and resist changing up the format when opened compared to Word documents.
Taking the time to make sure your resume looks stunning can make the difference between the hiring manager passing your resume up in a stack of many. Most of the time, a hiring manager can tell if the attorney took out the time to precisely format his or her resume, which will translate to him or her taking their new career search very seriously. If you need help with your resume, whether it is editing or writing it out, contact a legal recruiter, and they will be able to help you get on track.
The RMN Agency has successfully found new employment for hundreds of legal professionals in the Atlanta area, and part of our job is to review resumes from job candidates who apply on our legal job board.