Needing more work on your resume — Part I

Nancy Mackevich Glazer is manager of Legal Launch LLC.  The mission of Legal Launch is to give uplifting and creative career advice to 3Ls, recent law school grads and experienced attorneys.  Nancy helps her clients land gratifying employment – legal or nonlegal  – in a competitive market.

My name is Nancy Glazer.   I have been helping law students and recent grads find jobs in law for 25 years, although this is my first contribution to the Chicago Daily Law Bulletin’s blog, Attorneys in Transition.

As I’m new around here, you might expect me to write an uplifting piece about how great your chances are to land the job of your dreams.  My clients know, “uplifting” is what I typically do best, making their job searches exciting, “upbeat” even.

What I’d like to do with this introductory writing is give you something of value that will actually improve your resume and help get you an interview.  My suggestions always require more work on your part.

I know you have finally crossed off the “revise resume” entry from your lengthy “to do” list.  Here I am, new kid on the block, saying, “Take another look!”  (I know, too, that you’ve revised your resume nearly 100 times and that you just can’t even look at it any more without getting dizzy …)

Okay.  Do you have your resume in hand?  Let’s check to see if your resume is cutting-edge:

1.  Does your resume add value or “quantify” what work you performed for a past employer or client?    A cutting-edge resume for 2011 helps a prospective employer see in real numbers how your past work was valued.   For example, if you clerked in-house for an insurance company, your resume might say:

“Creatively helped resolve a multi-party lawsuit.”

This is a great entry.  However, to add value and show a future employer how you are even more valuable, consider changing the entry to read:

“Saved company $200,000 in legal fees by creatively resolving a complex, multi-party coverage lawsuit.”

By adding more detail (provided you can remember the resulting successes you actually had), you have now quantified the value of your work.   Everyone is looking to save money; this entry now hits a chord with the reader.

In addition, you have now described to a hiring attorney that you handled a specific kind of case regarding a coverage issue and that that it was complex.  These details, especially the cost savings, help a prospective employer see that you are the one he wants to hire.


2.     On your resume, did you indicate that you observed trials or depositions? If the answer to this question is “yes,” know this:  the attorneys reading your resume or sitting on the other side of the desk from you don’t really care that you watched courtroom action.  While seeing trials and depositions may have been quite exciting for you, if you worked for a judge or for litigators, this experience is simply assumed.

If you are fighting for room in every line of your resume, this is where to cut in this section.  If you must include the phrase about your talents “observing” in any part of your resume, try to bury it, perhaps in the middle of the section or at the end.

If these strategies were helpful to you, watch for Part II of this blog next week.  That entry will discuss how you describe your experience writing motions and briefs in your resume.



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