As the Equal Justice Works Conference and Career Fair (CCF) approaches, there are steps you can take to ensure you leave a lasting impression with potential employers. Keep in mind that more than 600 students have secured interviews at this year’s event, so you want to be sure that you stand out. Your résumé is the first impression potential employers have of you and your skills so make sure it communicates what you want it to communicate. Here are some suggestions to help make sure your résumé is the best it can be.
Résumé Do’s (make sure your résumé is):
- 1 page maximum
- Heavily edited
- Proofread your résumé again and again. Employers receive stacks of résumés every day, and they will automatically toss those that have sloppy errors. Spelling and grammatical errors are never acceptable. Have an additional pair of eyes check for typos and consistency in formatting. Careless mistakes could cost you a job.
- Properly formatted
- Details make the difference. Make sure your résumé is standardized and consistent; if it is not easy to read, an employer will pass it by.
- Make sure your résumé is aesthetically pleasing. Straight lines, columns that align, and symmetry (when possible) take a résumé from good to great.
- All of the information on your résumé should be 100 percent accurate. Employers are likely to conduct background checks to verify information; false information could result in not getting called back for an interview.
- Position descriptions should be short and active. Concentrate on results and outcomes, not on the tasks you performed. When possible, include numbers and data instead of vague generalizations. For example: “Served 15 clients per night at a weekly clinic.” And not “Conducted intake at weekly clinic.” Highlight skills that were acquired in each position.
- In PDF format when you submit it digitally
- This ensures that no formatting errors will occur when your résumé is opened in a different browser or operating system.
- Create several versions of your résumé
- There is no one generic résumé that is perfect for ALL employers. Walk into this year’s Career Fair with a few versions of your résumé that you can give to specific employers. Have you taken several classes that focus on immigration and immigrant rights? Those might be appropriate to emphasize on one version. Completed an internship at a nonprofit one summer? More detail about that might be more appropriate on another.
Résumé Don’ts (make sure your résumé does not):
- Have employment dates in numerical format
- Spell out months and avoid abbreviations
- Include “References available upon request”
- References should be included on a separate sheet of paper using a heading that matches your résumé; be prepared to send references only at the request of employers.
- List a job objective
- Including a job objective on your résumé shows that you are unfamiliar with the needs and concerns of today’s legal employers. It also makes your résumé seem static and not personalized to the position you are seeking.
- Use a pre-formatted résumé template from Word
- Using templates does not allow for the necessary editing and adjustments needed on a legal résumé. Additionally, using a template shows a lack of effort and creativity in producing the best possible résumé.
Keep an eye on our blog and Twitter feed for more tips about how to prepare for the Equal Justice Works Conference and Career Fair, and we will see you there!
*Résumé suggestions are based on the 2010 NALP Education Conference “Reading Between the Lines: A Candid Conversation About Résumé in Today’s Market”