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Career Center: Five Tips for a Convincing Legal Résumé

In today’s Career Center post, we’ve decided to take a short break from the updates on the results of our Associate Satisfaction Survey to share with you the latest career development article featured in the Associate Resources section of the Career Center, powered by Lateral Link.  This article, along with the others in this section, provides practical advice on advancing your career.

The last several weeks have seen a surge of new lateral associate openings at law firms across the country.  Even with the surge in openings, however, competition remains fierce for associate positions. In fact, employers have reported receiving upwards of 100 résumés for a single position. That means that it is more important than ever for your résumé to stand out from the competition. Fair or not, often the best résumés – and not the best candidates – generate interviews.

How can you develop a convincing legal résumé? Here are five tips….

1. Be Unique. Stand out from the competition by emphasizing your unique skills and achievements. Are you a junior associate who has already taken or defended scores of depositions? Did you take on a lead associate role in a $100 million deal? Did you secure a summary judgment in a high-stakes case? Providing concrete details that prove that you are a top performer can make all the difference to employers.

2. Be Clear. You have less than a minute to make that all-important first impression – make it count! Your key qualifications need to be featured front and center, not buried in a dense paragraph of text. You have worked hard to earn your credentials and build your expertise – use a format that makes it clear to employers what you bring to the table.

3. Be Concise. Firms have limited time to read over what could be hundreds of résumés for one position. Focusing on your relevant skills makes the best use of that limited time, and it also keeps the reader’s interest. Remember that you can always provide more detail in the interview.

4. Be Correct. Nothing leaves a negative impression like bad grammar and spelling. Ask a trusted colleague or recruiter to proofread your materials. Close to a third of résumés have mistakes. Common errors we see include “trail” instead of “trial” and “pubic interest” instead of “public interest” (yes, really).

5. Be Confident. Too often candidates understate their achievements. Your résumé is not the place for false modesty! While you do not want to come across as arrogant, firms expect your résumé to highlight your accomplishments. While you know why you are perfect for the position, you need to spell it out for employers.

For the Top 10 Tips for Success as a Junior Associate, click here.

About The Author:
Amy Savage is a Director at Lateral Link and oversees attorney placements in Washington, D.C.  Amy is a versatile attorney recruiter with proven results placing associates, partners, and in-house counsel with legal leaders.  Prior to recruiting, Amy was an associate with Shaw Pittman, where she practiced insurance coverage litigation, from drafting pleadings and conducting discovery to appearing in court and closing cases. She also practiced with Ross, Dixon & Bell. Amy received her J.D., cum laude, from the Georgetown University Law Center (2000). Contact Amy at 202.470.0661 or for more information.