Writing a Resume for Attorneys is nothing like writing a resume for many other fields. Sure, a first glance, they are similar in appearance – Profile, Education, Achievements, & Activities, but this is where the similarities end. Unlike most other professions (excluding Doctors and CPAs), becoming a lawyer is a feat in and of itself. It requires several years of studying, not to mention 2-3 days of taking the Bar Exam. As a successful attorney and nationally renowned career counselor, I can help. While I always recommend that you hire a CPRW that is also an Attorney to prepare this career tool for you, I understand that times are tough. Therefore, if you are adamant about attempting to write this on your own, here are some essential tips!
1. OBJECTIVE – NO!
When you draft a motion, do you repeat the caption title in the body of the P’s and As’? Not unless you want a verbal lashing from the judge. If you are submitting for a job posting, or even blindly to a company, then your OBJECTIVE is to GET the JOB, and they know that already.
This is a significant and too often overlooked portion of the resume. It is the introduction. It tells the reader – Is your writing clear, concise, and to the point? Here is an example of an introduction Profile opening sentence: “Proven success in litigating a diverse range of complex business litigation matters, with several defense verdicts on high-exposure matters.”
3. CORE COMPETENCIES:
When it comes to content/layout, think concisely. You will be lucky if the potential employer takes 15 seconds to scan the resume. Why not highlight your strengths? Core Competencies are “keywords” that help your resume pass the first level of review, especially since employers are currently inundated with hundreds of applications for each open position.
If you graduated in the first five years, put this near the top; otherwise, it should be the final section. I have seen several attorneys who are afraid to list their education proudly, either because they did not do well in school or did not go to Harvard. Think of it this way, if you’re going bald, do you wear a comb over — I hope not. Say it proud. What’s the old adage: A-students become teachers, B-Students become judges, C-students make MONEY. Look up some of your favorite attorneys, and most of the great ones went to lower-tier law schools. Always, and I ALWAYS mean, be confident in yourself – even on paper, it will come through.
5. PROFESSIONAL ACHIEVEMENTS:
Show them what you’re made of, BUT remember confident, not cocky! If you facilitated a significant merger or defended a multi-million dollar case, let them know. Caution: Be sure your achievement is an achievement (translation: just because you do your job really well, that is not an accomplishment). You would be amazed at what I see listed as an accomplishment (e.g. well, spoken, good with clients, etc.)
6. PROFESSIONAL EXPERIENCE:
This is the most critical section that employers care about. Do NOT spend too much time on semantics – lawyers are intelligent people. Be confident in your writing, but make sure it accurately reflects what you are doing. While there are several different types of resume style, font and substance, you can NEVER go wrong if you keep it in chronological order.
These are some helpful hints. Good Luck with your job search. And, if the task of doing this yourself and describing yourself on paper becomes too much for you, consider hiring an Attorney Certified Resume Writer.