As it is rightly said, “The first impressions last long”, well your resume is no different. In most cases, your resume is your first contact with your potential employer, and hence, your best shot to stand out among the other applicants.
Since a firm doesn’t always have the time and resources to call each interested applicant for a job interview, candidates are screened on the basis of their resume. Thus, it is significant to look organized, structured, precise and interesting through your resume.
Your resume speaks volumes about you, it tells your prospective employer about your past achievements, about your present aspirations and even your future goals. All you have to do is tell your story fast and make it interesting so that the person calling the shots is convinced that you command further attention.
A good resume is one which grabs the attention of your recruiters, sells your professional skills and accomplishments, but most importantly gets you the call for the job interview.
As for the legal aspirants, the resume test is even tougher as law firms are flooded with resumes and in the legal field, resumes which are verbose and provide too much non-related personal information are screened out immediately. So, here are a few guidelines to construct a resume that makes you stand tall among others:-
Know the background
Most people follow the ‘one size fits all’ approach when it comes to resume. People prepare a resume and forward the same to every firm they wish to work with. This is what you need to change as not every firm is looking for the same thing. You must not send the resume to a law firm, a small nonprofit organization, and a large government agency.
Keeping the crux of your resume constant, make small and appropriate changes to it, according to the nature of the firm you are applying to. This will enhance your chances of getting an interview call from the firm. So, next time you send out a resume, do not forget to reflect on your target audience.
Keep it crisp
Yes, your resume is your chance to brag all about your positive side and your accomplishments but do not go on for pages leaving your recruiter gasping for breath. Keep your resume limited to two pages (two-and-a-half at the most). Even better if you can wrap it up within a page, although don’t leave out necessary details to shorten your resume. While preparing your resume, always keep in mind that law professionals are used to reading pin-point details and superfluous is frowned upon in the legal arena. So, never pad up your resume with non-relevant details which can put off your recruiter. Also, try not to use a flowery language and keep it succinct. Another thing to keep in mind while preparing your resume is to keep it relevant. In simple words, you may have achieved a lot of things in your educational journey but if it is not relevant to the legal world, don’t mention it.
Do not falter at formatting
Before you send out the resume to your prospective employer, make sure it doesn’t have any grammatical errors, spelling mistakes, uneven enter marks, or double spaces between words. Further, make sure you don’t use a very loud or funky font, rather go for a sophisticated one. If you are not sure of certain things, use online software to ensure a spell-check and a grammar-check.
Many people highlight their achievements by making the words bold which doesn’t look good. If it’s there on the resume, your recruiter will see it. It is also advised to send your resume in a pdf format so that it doesn’t turn wonky when your recruiter opens it.
Further, you must also try to stay clear of loud graphics, images, colours, boxed information and complex layouts.
Follow the right construction
Do not send out a hotchpotch resume that jumps from one domain to the other. Follow the right construction: – start with a heading, including your name, mailing address, telephone number, and other contact details. You may also add your permanent address below contact details. Then, go on to your educational qualifications and make sure to list your degrees in reverse chronological order. Here, you can also describe any awards that you received during your studies, just try not to make it look self-explanatory.
Next in line are your scholastic abilities leadership skills, speaking and writing proficiency, and of course teamwork. Your scholastic abilities should be followed by your experience, which you should not mention chronologically but in the reverse order. List the name of the employer, followed by the location, and dates of employment. Do mention your job title and your roles and responsibilities. If you don’t have that much experience, including any internship experience or volunteer work will also augur well. Also, do illustrate the projects you worked on and the skills you developed while working on the project
And finally, list your tech skills. Yes, today legal aspirants are expected to proficient in the use of technology. Though, you must highlight only the specialized tech competencies that resonate directly with the job. Expertise in managing databases can also be listed here.
A separate section can also be created if some of your law-related articles have been published. You can mention its headline and give the link to the article.
Keywords are the key
Today, many legal firms use software tools to screen the resumes of the applicants. Thus, it is critical for legal aspirants to include the keywords in their resume so that their resumes are not screened out.
Even if resumes are screened manually, the recruiter looks for some keywords while deciding the fate of your resume. So give them what they want. Customize your resume in a way that you don’t miss out on any major keyword.
What not to tell
While we have talked about what to mention, let’s also discuss a few things that you must not mention in your resume:-
- Your salary expectations or the pay you have been receiving in your last job. Disclose all this information after you during the interview.
- Why you left your last job (or internship) — disclosing the reason as to why you left your last engagement is a strict no-no. Tell the reason only if you are asked to during the interview.
- Try not to use clichés like “problem-solver”, “dynamic personality”, and such others in your resume.
- Do not mention your career objective. This is the most repeated mistake which the aspirants make. The firm wants to know what you can offer to their organization, they couldn’t care less about your professional aspirations and goals. Even if you are asked about this in your interview, the best you to sidestep the question is by saying — “I work step-by-step and right now my focus is to earn a spot in your esteemed organization and work hard and evolve as a professional here.”
Well like you compliment your pizza with toppings; do ensure to compliment your resume with an impressive cover letter. The tricks are the same — keep it concise, clear, crisp, error-free, and to the taste of your recruiter.
A terrific cover letter can give an edge over a candidate with similar experience and degrees. So, tailor your cover letter in a meticulous fashion.
Following the above tips can help you construct a resume that will enhance your chances of getting an interview call. Good Luck!
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Rakesh is a Law Student at iilsindia and like to write about topics related to law.