When it comes to applying for legal positions, a single, stock resume isn’t enough. Positions at law firms and companies can be very specialized. Your resume should be, too.
So when it’s time to move on to a new legal job, the first step is to update and adjust your resume for each position you apply to. These five tips for writing a resume tailored to fit a legal job posting can help you get noticed at the outset of the hiring process.
1. Lean heavily on certain specialized skills and experience.
Rather than overwhelm your potential employer with your entire list of credentials, cater to areas of the target firm’s specialization. For example, if you’re applying for a senior paralegal job at a firm working primarily in civil litigation, be sure to expand on your experience working with a legal team to manage eDiscovery. Appropriately balance the weight of your varied areas of experience, emphasizing what most pertains to the position you’re seeking.
2. Do your research and craft the language of each resume accordingly.
Before you customize a resume for a particular job, learn more about the place where you hope to work. Is there an “About” section or mission statement on the firm or company’s website? Or do you have a contact in your professional network whom you can tap for insights? The goal is for the employer to see as the ideal candidate because of the fit between your career aspirations and and the organization’s mission.
3. Get specific with concrete numbers and data.
Don’t just list the years that you worked on this or that. Paint a clearer picture by including additional details in your resume such as, “Conducted case history research for 55 immigration law cases over three years.”
4. Showcase your knowledge of recent regulatory changes and industry trends.
In a changing regulatory environment, legal professionals should remain current with legal industry trends and compliance requirements. When detailing recent work experience on your resume, try to highlight a situation that dealt with a recent change as it applies to the position you’re seeking so it’s easier for the potential employer to notice you’re on top of the latest developments.
5. Don't bother with an “Objective.”
Although it’s a ubiquitous part of most general resumes, an “Objective” section isn't obligatory for legal resumes. Instead, write a succinct summary of qualifications at the beginning of the resume, perhaps as bullet points. Remember to stick to skills and expertise while avoiding overlap with your experience section. Resume experts could help make sure your resume isn’t stylistically outdated.
Keep in mind that by following these tips for writing a resume, you may end up with several very different-looking resumes. Make sure they are well organized and readily accessible so that when calls for interviews start coming in, you can review specifics and prepare accordingly.
What are your top tips for writing a resume? Tell us your techniques in the comments.