Job competition in the legal world is fierce, and a great lawyer resume can set you apart from the other attorneys competing for those coveted spots at top law firms. But how do you create a resume that attracts positive attention from hiring managers? Follow our list of essential tips.
1. Write Strategically
Resumes are the ultimate marketing tool. They provide a hiring manager with a look at your experience and education, but they also need to showcase a variety of your soft skills, such as leadership abilities and a strong work ethic, but attorneys also need to possess some of the following skills:
- Time Management Skills
- Writing Skills
- Communication Skills
- Research Skills
- Critical Thinking & Analytical Skills
But how do you include these skills on a resume? After all, you can’t simply provide a bulleted list of the soft skills. You need to demonstrate these skills with specific examples.
For instance, to hit on your research and writing skills, you might state that you performed “extensive research on a myriad of procedural and substantive matters” or perhaps that you drafted certain types of contracts or agreements during your tenure at a previous law firm. Whenever you can provide concrete information about your caseload and the types of cases you handled, this presents a clearer picture for a hiring manager.
2. Include The Right Information
When you look up resume samples or resume examples on the internet, you tend to find cookie-cutter versions of resumes, and these aren’t always appropriate for a lawyer’s resume. Generally, a basic resume includes several sections – Career Objective, Work Experience, Education and perhaps a Skills section.
With a lawyer resume, you also might a section for Judicial Clerkships or Internships, which can be important factors for a hiring manager to consider. If you are just graduating from law school, you also need to include a section entitled Bar Admissions or Bar Status, so that you can include when you take the bar or that you have passed this exam, but are awaiting admission, whichever is the case.
Additionally, under education, lawyers often list their GPA or add cum laude, magna cum laude or summa cum laude after their degree. Obviously, you only want to highlight your GPA if your GPA is worth mentioning, but it is common for lawyers to list these distinctions in their education section.
You also might want to include more information about your degrees. For instance, if you have earned a bachelor’s degree or master’s degree in a specialization that might support your career as a lawyer, you could add it in. Here’s a quick example.
UNIVERSITY OF WASHINGTON – Seattle, WA
Bachelor of Science in Economics, May 2012 – Graduated magna cum laude
Concentration: Public Policy
GEORGETOWN UNIVERSITY LAW CENTER – Washington, D.C.
Juris Doctor, May 2015 – Graduated cum laude
Editor, Georgetown Law Journal, 2014-2015
Adding details about your concentration in public policy could be a good strategic move if you are hoping to join law firms that specialize in government-related law. Additionally, showcasing that you also served as an editor of your university’s law journal can support your research and writing skills.
3. Add Some Personality
Generally, a resume is a fairly straightforward document that includes basic information about your experience and skills. However, these days, more and more people are adding a Hobbies & Interests section or Additional Interests. If, and only if, you have enough room, you might consider adding this section.
However, you must consider strategy and highlight interests and hobbies that provide greater insight into your abilities. For instance, if you ran the Boston Marathon or New York Marathon, those can be good additions as they showcase your work ethic and ability to achieve goals.
If you volunteer at a local youth facility or homeless shelter, these can be excellent additions, especially if you are working toward a career in public interest law. Additionally, if you belong to any law organizations, you might enter this information in this section.
4. Edit, Edit & Edit Again
As an attorney, you know that writing is an essential skill, but so is editing. On a lawyer resume, a single spelling or grammar error can kill your chances of gaining an interview. Many surveys have shown that hiring managers will toss out a resume with just one error, so editing your resume is crucial. Don’t just rely on an editing software program, either, as even the best programs don’t catch every mistake. For instance, a software program won’t know if your contact information is correct and one wrong digit in a phone number or one wrong letter in an email address can ruin your chances of employment.
We also recommend that you ask one or two trusted friends or family members to look over your resume. Get as many eyes on that resume as you can and even read it out loud to yourself to ensure that it flows well and that you haven’t missed a basic error.
5. Keep It Short
Unless you have many years of experience and quite a few unique work experiences, it’s best to keep your lawyer resume to a single page in length. Too often, people include too much information and don’t realize that hiring managers or even managing partners don’t have time to peruse two-page resumes. Lawyers tend to be a bit too verbose, so keep it short and sweet, just like this paragraph.
Making The Case For Professional Resume Services
We’d like to provide some evidence, so to speak, that might encourage you to skip writing your own resume and hire a professional resume service as this is usually a better option than trying to write your resume. As an attorney, we know that you probably excel at writing. However, what you excel at is legal writing, and not resume writing.
A professional resume writer, on the other hand, specializes in writing resumes that appeal to hiring managers and recruiters. You know how to write a legal brief that might help support your case, but that’s not in the same ballpark as a resume, which services an entirely different purpose. It’s typically best to hire resume experts to create your resume, just as it’s best to hire an expert for many other tasks. After all, you wouldn’t hire a plumber to do your taxes or an electrician to handle a lawsuit.
At Top 5 Resume Writers, we don’t write resumes, so we aren’t trying to sell you resume services. Our goal has been to research some of the top-rated resume writing services on the internet and determine if these resumes are as well-written as the companies promise.
To find the best resume writers, we created a mystery client and sent identical information about this client to several resume companies. Once we had the resumes, we gave them to an independent panel comprised of people who are in the position to make hiring decisions. We ask them to judge the overall quality, strategy, organization and design of each resume and select the top five.
The results were surprising. The panel unanimously chose one company, Resume Writing Group, as their top pick. Sadly, several resume writing services returned resumes with errors and others delivered resumes that were bland and just repeated the information we gave them with no thought to strategy.
Resume Writing Group gave us an error-free, strategic resume that truly stood out from the pack. Their writer was also the only writer that contacted our “mystery client” for additional information and this stood out in the final result. We highly recommend Resume Writing Group and encourage you to hire them to create your lawyer resume.
In addition to a great lawyer resume, Resume Writing Group can provide cover letters and LinkedIn profile writing, which can round out your job-hunting arsenal. They also back their resumes with a unique guarantee. If you use their resume and follow their advice, but are not hired in 45 days or less, they will refund the cost of your resume and pay you an additional $100, so you have nothing to lose.