A Winning Legal Resume
Your resume will often be the first chance you have to show an employer your skills and experience. Make a good impression from the start with well-written legal resumes that show you to your best advantage. Typically in the legal profession, resumes should be conservative in format, showcasing your education and legal experience, as well as skills that will give you an edge in your job. Your resume should be clear and persuasive, and must always be directed to the position for which you are applying. Different employers look for different qualifications, so pick and choose what to highlight in your resume accordingly.
Education and Experience: the Meat of Legal Resumes
Legal resumes should not include a section for objectives. The first thing after the heading will be the section on your educational background. Detail all institutions where you have received a degree in reverse chronological order – high school information is not necessary. For each institution, state scholarships, honors and awards received. You may also add your extracurricular activities if they are pertinent to your desired job. You may include your GPA, but if you include it, present it as it is listed – never round it up. Your legal experience should also be presented in reverse chronological order, with most attention being given to the position you currently hold. Include both paid and unpaid positions that you’ve held in relation to the legal profession, describing your jobs with strong action verbs that focus on the results you have achieved. Present your accomplishments for each job, quantifiable results (for instance, percentages and dollar amounts), the skills you developed while working, and, lastly, your duties and responsibilities.
If your resume is not full yet, you can consider including sections for your skills (foreign language skills should always be mentioned), community service and volunteer work, publications, licenses and professional affiliations, and interests if they are pertinent to your application. A list of references, or a promise to provide them upon request, is not necessary.
Polishing and Touching Up
Review your legal resumes before you submit them. Check grammar and spelling, and make sure that the layout is consistent all throughout and that you have been scrupulously honest in your writing. Try to whittle things down to one page. Have someone read your resume for you so that you can find out if your resume is easy enough to read and understand.