TOP TIPS FOR GREAT RESUMES NOW—-
- Don’t worry if your resume exceeds one page: two well-drafted, worthwhile pages are much better than one over-crowded one;
- Avoid the “law school look” on your resume: do more than produce a reverse chronological list of education and employers, with years down the left hand margin and locations down the right;
- Don’t just provide a repetitive rendition of tasks performed at each job: cull your career for real contributions and include them as career highlights to enliven your presentation and distinguish yourself from fellow attorneys with similar credentials;
- Don’t force the reader to spend energy understanding your career progression: use sub-headings and combinations of information to assist–such as a sub-heading like “Prior Communications Experience” to introduce former journalism and teaching jobs, rather than using a non-descriptive catch-all category like “Non Legal Employment”;
- Don’t allow one typographical error to mar your resume: prospective employers faced with a proliferation of resumes may automatically place a resume on the “No” pile if it contains mistakes, because carelessness is not a trait of those they most want to hire.
TOP TIPS FOR STRONG COVER LETTERS NOW—-
- Don’t assume cover letters don’t matter: a good lawyer uses every available forum to gain professional attention and set the tone for persuasion—and a well-crafted cover letter is a meaningful component of a strong job search;
- Don’t lapse into legalese: “Enclosed please find my resume for your perusal” is not a good opening line. Instead try something more engaging, such as “Your advertisement drew me to send you my resume, and created an enthusiasm on my part regarding the position.”;
- Don’t simply assert that you possess certain attributes: rather than stating, for example, that you are a good writer, prove that you are by writing a letter worth reading ;
- Don’t use standard, boilerplate language, such as “I am confident I would be a unique asset to your firm”: write a letter that foreshadows (not repeats) your resume and shows you to be a strong, focused lawyer who really is right for the job;
- Avoid errors that will irritate the reader: don’t make mistakes in the spelling of the name and address, don’t use the overbroad and outdated salutation “Gentlemen”, and be sure your letter is absolutely typo-free. Have someone else proof it–we can’t always see our own mistakes!