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10 Legal Resume Don'ts

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The legal landscape has changed in recent years and so have legal resumes. Below are 10 legal resume don'ts to consider when crafting your legal resume.

1. Don’t Send the Same Resume for Every Job

Tailor each resume to the employer and position to which you are applying. It may be helpful to prepare several resumes that emphasize different skills or experiences. For example, you may want to create separate resumes for law firm positions and corporate legal positions or create different resumes to reflect your skills and experience that best match various legal practice areas.

2. Don’t Merely List Job Responsibilities

Your resume should not simply contain a list of your work history and job responsibilities. It should highlight your achievements and quantify your efforts using concrete and specific terms. For example, instead of “drafted appellate briefs,” it is better to write “drafted successful Third Circuit brief overturning $4 million judgment against Fortune 100 manufacturer.”

3. Don’t Create A Multi-Page Resume

Your resume should not exceed one page unless you have been in the workforce for many years. Even if you have significant experience, limit your resume to two pages maximum. An uncluttered and concise resume will have more impact.

4. Don’t Cram Too Much Information On A Page

Dense text, small fonts and long paragraphs are difficult to read. Provide plenty of white space to give the employer’s eye a rest and promote readability. Use bullet points, headings and a 12 point font or larger.

5. Don’t Use Flashy Graphics

Fancy graphics, images, boxes, colors and fonts detract from your message and discourage reading. Keep your resume simple and professional.

6. Don’t Include Extraneous Information

Every word on your resume should sell your skills and convince the employer that you are right for the job. Keep descriptions short and simple. Extraneous information clutters your resume and detracts from your marketing message.

7. Don’t Let Typographical Errors Ruin Your Credibility

Accurate, error-free work product is critical in the legal profession. Therefore, it is important to proofread your resume carefully or, even better, have a friend or colleague review it for typographical and grammatical errors.

8. Don’t Use Passive Voice

Active voice will infuse life into your resume. For example, it is better to say “the judge dismissed the case on summary judgment” than “the case was dismissed on summary judgment.”

9. Don’t List Personal Information

Don’t include personal information that has no bearing on your ability to perform the job such as age, marital status, children, school graduation dates or birth date. You should also avoid disclosing your religious or political affiliations since your views may differ from those of the hiring manager.

10. Don’t List References

Don’t list references in your resume or note that references are available upon request. If an employer is interested, he can contact you for references or request you to bring them to the interview.

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