Resumes

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….

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Today is the first day of spring. The morning news shows were focused on all the many ways we should shed our winter selves and prepare for spring. The most common story was, of course, spring cleaning. And, as ForbesWoman reminded us, this applies equally to your résumé as it does your closet. As Krista Canfield, a senior manager of corporate communications at LinkedIn, explained, “[w]hether you’re on the job-hunt or not, Spring is an excellent time to evaluate your long- and short-term goals and make sure they’re reflected in your career profiles.”

The comparison between “spring cleaning” your home and your résumé is even more apt for one reason: both activities suck. Indeed, when I ask my unhappy lawyer friends why they do not look for new jobs, they all complain that updating their résumés is too painful and difficult a task. Yet, thanks to five easy tips I picked up from headhunters, career coaches, and law school career advisers (um, yeah, I have been on the job search before), the process need not be so unpleasant….

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This is the second part of a series on getting yourself in the door to an in-house position. If it’s not up your alley, read no further. Based on the feedback I received from last week’s entry, this is helpful to some folks out there. Don’t worry, my tell-all book is in the works, and when I’m ready to retire, I’ll regale you with stories of love triangles and hexagons that will make your head spin. Until then, let’s work on getting you that gig in-house.

It is presumed that you worked hard on your resumes and cover letters in law school, vetted them through the career office, and had at least two or more folks review them before sending them out for OCI and beyond. If you’ve been practicing for a while, and are now looking to jump in-house, you’ve likely dusted off your resume and edited it to include the substantive work you’ve done, your many court appearances, and your list of mega deals that you’ve brought to completion. Or not. The reality may be that you don’t have all that much “sexy” work to list on your updated resume.

This may not be a problem…

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For most of us, the holidays are synonymous with family, fun, and fruitcake. Work, at least for a few days, drops off our radar. However, the down time received during the holidays is the perfect time to break out the old résumé and, in fact, improve it. Whether or not you are looking for a new job, keeping your résumé current will help you avoid headaches in the coming months should you decide to make a move.

Here are three ways the holidays can help update your résumé, provided by the recruiters at Lateral Link….

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The lateral hiring market has improved substantially over the past year. With that improvement, associates are receiving a greater number of cold-calls from recruiters. For many junior associates, these calls are a new phenomenon. Your choice of a recruiter — and the way you manage the process — will have a profound impact on your short-term and long-term opportunities.

There are many good recruiters and many benefits to using a good one. However, not all recruiters are created equal. Jordan Abshire, legal recruiter and Managing Director at Lateral Link, offers some great pointers on handling the cold-calls and selecting a good recruiter, as well as some background information on the recruiting process….

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When we write briefs, we show — we don’t tell — the reader that we win. Thus, we do not tell the reader: “This case is barred by the statute of limitations,” which is mere assertion. Instead, we show the reader why we win: “The accident in which plaintiff was hurt occurred on June 1, 2008. The two-year statute of limitations therefore expired on June 1, 2010. Plaintiff did not file his complaint, however, until August 15, 2011. This lawsuit is time-barred.”

At trial, it’s the same routine: We do not simply assert in an opening statement or closing argument: “My client should win.” (Nor do we beg: “Please, please. My client should win.”) Instead, we present the facts, and we let the jury conclude from the facts that our client should win. Show; don’t tell. It’s more persuasive.

What’s the equivalent for demonstrating legal expertise? What should law firms write (and say) on résumés and in responses to RFPs to show, not tell, their competence? And, as in-house counsel, what questions should we ask to investigate whether a firm is blowing hot air (which is what “telling” permits) or may actually be competent (which is what “showing” may suggest)?

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* Herman Cain’s got Wood over all of these sexual harassment accusers. No, seriously. He hired Bryan Cave defector L. Lin Wood to handle his possible defamation claims. [WSJ Law Blog]

* Sad and depressing old man news: Joe Paterno’s legal innocence was irrelevant. Instead of letting him retire at the end of the year, the Penn State Board of Trustees fired him last night. [New York Times]

* A woman from Idaho with some real backwoods charm. What to do when your husband — a lawyer — plots to kill you? Stand by your man and blame the corrupt government. [ABC News]

* Tired of getting screwed? Mayor Bloomberg makes nice with the OWS people, congratulating them for “generally . . . not break[ing] the law.” What a sad great accomplishment. [New York Post]

* And this is why you don’t play games with your résumé, folks. Here’s some proof that next time you lie about being covered in Ivy, you’re going to get a wicked bad rash. [Boston Herald]

* If assignments like this appeared more often, I bet people would stop procrastinating so much and do their homework all day, every day (and then do it again for extra credit). [Arizona Republic]

* Have the Biebs’s lawyers learned nothing from Bill Urquhart? Always CHECK YOU EMAILS to avoid a public Maury Povich-esque paternity problem. [New York Daily News]

Most of our readers know this about me already, but in case you didn’t, I was a sorority girl in college (hardy har har, but I wasn’t an Omega Mu). I joined Kappa Alpha Theta during my freshman year at Lehigh, and I had some of the best times of my life as a result. And no, when I was pledging, the sisters didn’t circle my fat with a marker (there weren’t enough markers).

Anyway, being a member of a Greek life organization brought me a lot of fun times and awesome opportunities when I was in college. I learned how to funnel, and I turned into one of the best flip cup players around. I got to be my sorority’s pledgemaster one year, and I was in charge of recruitment the next. I accomplished a lot of great things in my sorority leadership positions, and you better believe I listed them on my résumé.

The reason I bring this up today is because a future law student is wondering whether she should list her Greek affiliation and leadership roles on her résumé when applying to law school….

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Ed. note: This is the latest installment of Small Firms, Big Lawyers, one of Above the Law’s new columns for small-firm lawyers.

As the owner of a small law firm, I’m always surprised at how many blind résumés I receive in the mail. First of all, who even uses mail anymore? Does anyone seriously think that I’m going take them more seriously because they used cream-colored, 100% cloth, 24-pound bond paper? I’m not.

But forget the résumés for a minute; for me, it’s the cover letter that tells me whether I want to interview this person. Over the years, I’ve received thousands of cover letters from lawyers and law students. I’ve gotten to the point where I really don’t need to read the résumé before I’ve made my decision.

So with that in mind, here are 11 tips for writing cover letters to potential employers.

1. Spell my frikkin’ name right. You’d be astounded at how many times candidates blow this one.…

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It’s the new year – time to dust off that résumé.  Even if you are happy with your 2010 bonus and not ready to jump ship just yet, you never know when you might get a call about a job opportunity that you simply can’t pass up.  Or maybe you have been searching for a new job for a while now, with no luck.

With recruiting departments receiving hundreds or even thousands of résumés for a single job opening, your résumé only has a 30- to 60-second window to be reviewed before it gets forwarded to the hiring attorney or ends up in the trash.  Is your résumé ready to land you an interview?

This week’s Expert Insights article, brought to you by Lateral Link, gives you advice to help you re-evaluate your résumé to make it an effective marketing tool in your job search….

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