As a recruiter, people often believe we work to help candidates find jobs. Although this is very true, our primary focus is to help our clients (law firms and companies) find the best candidates to fit their needs. To do this, we review hundreds of resumes on a weekly basis to narrow the field down to a few exceptional candidates. You have undoubtedly received your fair share of resume tips over the course of your professional career, but here are 3 essential resume tips that I can offer to help you stand out as one of those candidates.
Keep your resume to one page (sometimes) – this is probably one of the most common resume tips I’ve seen, and for good reason. Put yourself in the shoes of a recruiter/employer who has to review hundreds of resumes. Would you want to read a 5 page resume all the time? Probably not. For the most part, a one page resume can encompass all the relevant experience you need to come across as a qualified candidate. However, it can be OK to go over that one page limit if your experience dictates it. If you’ve held 2 associate positions and 1 in-house role and you need to go over 1 page, that’s fine. However, if you’re 2 years out of law school, a 2 or 3 page resume is probably not necessary.
Formatting and consistency is important! – more often that I would like, I often review resumes that are not formatted correctly. I’ve seen resumes with different fonts and font sizes, unaligned bullet points, typos, wrong dates, inconsistent bolding of words– the list goes on and on. If you want to be taken seriously, make sure your resume uses a consistent format throughout your resume. It may seem trivial, but these things can matter when being compared to another candidate with a flawlessly formatted resume. Also, don’t go too crazy with the template for your resume. If you were applying for a graphic design position, I might suggest it’s time to get creative. However, for a legal position, it’s probably not necessary.
Know what you are applying for – this is probably the biggest and most important tip that I can offer you. It goes hand in hand with the old adage of “tailoring your resume”. Know what you are applying for. Whether you are applying for a real estate associate position or labor & employment role, make sure your resume represents you as a real estate or labor & employment attorney. For example, if your current practice includes work you’ve done in litigation, family law, and real estate, make sure you emphasize your real estate experience. In other words, don’t wait until your 5th bullet point down on your resume to finally get into your real estate experience if that is the position you are applying for. Make it first! If you are applying for a real estate position, you don’t want to present yourself as just a qualified attorney, you want to present yourself as a qualified real estate attorney.
Hopefully, with these 3 essential tips, you’ll have more success presenting yourself as a great candidate. Good luck!