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Career Center: Building a Convincing Legal Résumé

As the market continues to grow with applicants across various practice areas, qualified or not, it’s more important than ever for your résumé to stand out, especially from the competition.

This week, Lateral Link Director Amy Savage gives her tips on developing a convincing résumé, because the look of your résumé can be one factor in getting interviews at firms or companies you’re passionate to work for….

1. Be Unique. Stand out from the competition by emphasizing your unique skills and achievements. Providing concrete details that prove that you are a top performer can make all the difference to employers. Focus on your legal experience and highlight the skills you learned during your summer job (whether you worked in pro bono, interned for a judge, or held a summer associate position at a law firm). Don’t have much experience yet? Highlight the law school activities in which you are involved (moot court, law review, student organizations, legal clinics, and/or research for a professor).

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, career counselor, 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 more career resources, visit the Career Center, powered by Lateral Link.