Monday, October 26, 2009

Writing a Winning Resume

It is very important to have a well thought-out, well-written and visually attractive resume prepared for your job search. Your resume provides the first and possibly only opportunity to make contact with a potential employer and hopefully to obtain an interview. Faced with the fact that employers spend only seconds skimming a resume, how can you create a resume that makes you stand out from the crowd? It takes some self-reflection and a little leg work, but it can be done!
1. A resume should be a personal marketing piece that promotes you. Your resume must show the employer that you have what it takes to do the job. It should not be a dissertation of every activity you have performed in your life. Rather, you should include those activities that cast you in the best light and that demonstrate you have the skills, abilities and motivation to meet the employer's needs.
2. Establish that you possess the desired qualifications by describing accomplishments, rather than listing potentials, talents or responsibilities. Your resume should be full of achievements that demonstrate that you are prepared to perform the job the employer is seeking to fill.
3. If you do not have much legal experience, make the connection between your non-legal experience and what the employer is looking for. For example, you can show a potential employer that you are hard-working by listing part-time or full-time jobs you held while attending school. Similarly, you can demonstrate your initiative by including a description of the charity work you perform in your community. Include instances of when you were required to use your strong writing ability (for instance, if you independently researched and wrote a business plan for the employer you worked for before attending law school).
4. Use the resources of the Office of Career Services. Make an appointment with a Career Counselor to take a look at your resume. Review the Office of Career Services Handbook posted on Blackboard (click on the Job Search button on the Office of Career Services page). It gives detailed advice on how to prepare your resume, line by line.
5. Other tips: Keep sentences short and direct. Don't lie or embellish. If it is not something you want to talk about in an interview, do not put it on your resume. Keep your resume continually updated and create more than one version, tailoring it to suit different employers' needs. Make sure your resume is free of typos and grammatical errors.