An eye-catching resume is a valuable tool to have while searching for an in-house legal position that will get you through the door and on to an interview. There are a few important tips you can implement to make your resume rise to the top, while certain errors in your resume will likely mean that it hits the recycling bin. In this post, I’ll share with you several tips to make your resume shine.
Show Your Achievements
First, be sure that your resume has your major achievements listed clearly. When completing this section consider these three questions:
- How did you help the company make money?
- How did you help the company save money?
- How did you improve processes and procedures for the company?
- How did you keep the company compliant?
Not only should you list your achievements but also list how you achieved them. Also, find a way to show how effectively you achieved those goals. A great way to do that is by using metrics, where possible, to show a measurable result.
Second, make sure you describe your current and past companies in clear and concise language. Describe the scope of your work and your company to those outside the company. Using layman’s terms will help communicate without any fluff while still providing details and context. Some key points to include are:
- Focus of company (i.e. products and services)
- Number of employees (if beneficial)
- Private or public?
- Scope of company
Sum all this up in a short two sentence description. Consider how you would describe the company to someone you just met.
Lead With Your Strengths
Next, lead with your strengths by listing either your education or experience first based on whichever is stronger. For experience, list your most recent or current employer first and then work backwards from there. Be sure to list both the month and year of your employment, and go back in time as far as possible. If you only include the year it looks like there are gaps in your employment history.
If you are a transactional attorney, list your respective transactions – omitting anything that may be confidential or private. Make this list an addendum to your resume. If you are a litigator, include a list of your cases – obviously, respecting attorney-client privilege.
Other experiences to include:
- Speaking engagements
- Important articles
- Court admissions
- Bar admissions
- Clerkships and internships or externships
- Where you trained
- Any other relevant non-legal experience.
For instance, if you work for a tech firm who specializes in electrical engineering technologies and you were formerly an electrical engineer, that’s relevant. Past sales experience would be relevant for transactional attorneys, and human resource experience will be relevant for employment attorneys.
For education, list:
- Your honors
- Year of graduation (this is important because many companies require certain number of years experience)
- Important activities such as a law review or other law school activities
List the same for bachelor degrees and graduate degrees.
Additional Resume Tips
- Include your phone number
- Include your personal email address
- Don’t include an objective or summary. They usually include the same generalizations and platitudes that don’t have much meaning (a “go-getter!”) Most hiring managers won’t read this so save those for your cover letter or as talking points in your interview.
It’s important to make a strong first impression when you’re searching for a new position. A well-written resume is your induction to a company, so make it count. List your major achievements, use layman’s terms to describe your current and former employers, and lead with the stronger of either education or experience. Following this format and including the other tips such as omitting the dreaded objective and summary sections will put you on the track to make a stellar first impression.
Are you looking for an in-house position?
At Quaero Group we work with top companies nationwide, and we can be a resource to help you to find interesting, lucrative, and meaningful work in an in-house counsel position. Contact us to talk about your options.