Perhaps you’ve been looking for a job for some time, or are soon going to be entering the world of the employment seeker. These days, with job opportunities more scarce than ever, it’s critical that your resume be the best it can be, so that it doesn’t automatically wind up in the recruiter’s circular file – also known as the trashcan.
Yet with so much conflicting advice and information out there on what constitutes a “good” resume, what’s a job-seeker to do? Let’s tackle that question by first dissecting the resume, and determining what should be in it – and what not.
First, the format. Many people are confused as to whether or not to include an “Objective” at the top of the page, and tend to err on the side of caution by including it – or so they believe this to be the case. After all, more information is always better, right?
Not necessarily. And in the case of the objective, not at all. What does your objective tell the company about what you can do for them? Absolutely nothing. It tells them what your goals are, but they already know that: you’re looking for a job. But, you think, don’t they need to know that I’m super-interested in this particular industry and would give up my firstborn to work for them? Again, no. That’s what the cover letter is for.
Many job-seekers then get bogged down in the order of things. Should the “Employment” section come first, or “Education”? The truth is that it doesn’t really matter. If your educational background is particularly impressive, recent, or speaks to a higher level of education such as a law degree, then by all means put it first. But if your content is compelling enough, the recruiter won’t ding you just because you’ve juxtaposed these categories, believe us.
The key thing with regard to content is to frame everything that you’ve done in terms of highlights, results, or outcomes. What does that mean? Well, let’s say that as a law clerk, some of your responsibilities included filing briefs, researching case law, etc. That’s great, but aren’t those tasks implied in the title “Law Clerk”? Rather, you should write about what you’ve accomplished. “Diligent and thorough research of case law resulted in increase in number of positive trial outcomes.” There, doesn’t that sound better? Granted, this can’t be done with everything, but then you should ask yourself if that information really needs to be in your resume.
By keeping this one key rule in mind, anyone can transform a trashcan-destined resume into an attention-getting one. And the “Objective” will be a moot point, as you’ll be working at the company of your choice.
The Lawmatch Juris Job Blues Blog offers attorneys, paralegals, and other professionals seeking legal employment advice and tips on legal resume preparation, job search tips, interview tips for lawyers, and a new perspective on the latest issues graduating law students face as they search for jobs as lawyers at law firms, corporations, and small businesses.
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