Writing Resumes And Cover Letters

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Is it still necessary to have a resume in the day of law firm bios and LinkedIn historical listings? Yes. You will need one to apply directly for positions, especially those advertised online. Also, a well-craft ed resume targeted to a particular position will help you stand out from others and highlight additional experiences that may not be previously mentioned.

Resumes serve two primary goals: to help you land an interview and to make the interview easier. Keep these in mind and you might find it easier to write your resume. Here are a few suggestions.

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First, it is helpful to have several resumes that highlight different aspects of your legal experience. For example, let’s say you have background in both bankruptcy and commercial litigation. You can have a resume that is tailored to emphasize your commercial litigation experience, another one that highlights your bankruptcy background and a third that mentions both. That’s three resumes. So if you’re applying for a commercial litigation position, you will want the one that barely mentions your bankruptcy experience, since that aspect of your background is not of interest.

Second, legal resumes are different from those of people in other fields and will differ in format and length for associate and partner level candidates. Craft this yourself and do not use a resume writing service. You also do not need boxes, bullet points, or an “Objective” which of course is to change jobs.

Resumes are formal documents and should be written in third person. Start with your name, home address, personal email and cell phone number. Do not list your work email or phone if you are moving confidentially.

If you are a senior attorney and still don’t use a personal email, create one and start checking it oft en. Also, don’t use your spouse’s email. No one wants to have to go through your spouse to reach you. Using an email address such as, [email protected] or [email protected] will make you look current. Also, skip listing a home phone unless you work at home.

Senior attorneys should limit a resume to no more than three pages. Begin with a paragraph summarizing your work experience. The idea is to give the reader a clear idea of your practice and expertise. Next list in reverse order, current and previous employment with titles. If you started as an associate and then made partner at the same firm, list both with dates. List your education next. The more experienced you are, the less important your educational experiences become so simply list your law and undergraduate schools and years of graduation.

If you are an associate, keep your resume to one page. List your education first beginning with your law school, including journals and honors, if any. List your GPA if you are proud of it. Undergraduate is listed second including basic academic honors. Leave off clubs, political and other social groups. If you were a college athlete, mention it.

Beneath education, list your legal experience starting with your current position, date to present and include both functional duties and types of matters you handle. This is where you can emphasize certain experiences over others depending on the position you are pursuing. This section can be several sentences and prior positions should be listed in descending chronological order with increasingly shorter descriptions. Non-legal experience is mentioned only if you had a career between undergraduate and law school. Leave off jobs held during school. However, if you financed all or part of your education, you should mention that.

Both partners and associates should list memberships and professional and civic affiliations third, beginning with the State Bar of Arizona. Be sure to list other bar associations and courts if applicable, and any honors or awards. Also, list any foreign languages and your fluency. Current speaking engagements and publications should be listed last. You can mention hobbies or interests if you have enough space left .

If you are a corporate associate, you will want to include a separate “deal sheet” to list representative transactions in which you participated. This will give the reader a clearer idea of your experience. Litigation associates should include a writing sample showing how well you write. Use a document that has been filed.

When you are ready to submit your resume, email it from your personal email as an attachment to a cover letter. Be sure and tailor the message to a particular position. Check on their website or call to locate the correct person to contact. Keep your message short and simple. The first sentence should let the reader know which position you are applying for and if someone has recommended you, to contact them.

The second paragraph can give some additional information not listed on your resume and include a link to your law firm bio. You can also highlight some part of your background that might make you a particularly good fit. Keep in mind, this is your sales pitch. Be sure to end with your personal contact information.

Hopefully, based on your resume and cover letter, you will receive an opportunity to interview. Phyllis Hawkins

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