Tips For Writing A Great Resume

The Purpose of A Resume

Your resume serves to introduce you to potential employers, to highlight your significant achievements, and to convince employers to extend an interview to you.

What To Do

  • Your resume should generally be no longer than one page (discuss exceptions with your Career Counselor).
  • Use active verbs to start each sentence.
  • Use a conservative font such as Times New Roman or Arial.
  • Font size should be between 10.5- 12 points.
  • Use post office designations when abbreviating state names – two capital letters with no periods.

What Not To Do

  • Forget to check your resume for typos. As a rule of thumb, you should print out the resume and have a friend, family member, or Career Counselor take a 2nd look. Employers will toss resumes into the trash for small typos or formatting errors, no matter how qualified the candidate.
  • Include an “Objectives” or “Summary of Qualifications” section.

Header

  • Begin your resume with your name, address, telephone number, and email address
  • If you have a permanent address that shows a connection to the employer’s region, list both a current and permanent address. If not, only list your current address.
  • Always use a professional email address, such as your Howard Law account.

Education Section

  • In reverse chronological order, list all schools you have attended since university, degrees earned, months/years of graduation or expected graduation, location of the school (city/ state), and relevant honors and activities. You may also include relevant law school coursework.
  • In general, if your GPA is in the top half of the class, include your GPA, rank, or both. If this information is not included, employers will believe the information was deleted for a reason.
  • NEVER estimate or round up your rank or GPA. NEVER use approximate numbers. List a specific bracket only as assigned by the Law School Registrar: top 10, 20, 25, 33, 50, or 75 percent.

Experience Section

  • The preferred heading is “Experience,” not “Employment,” to allow you to include volunteer, clinical, or school experiences that are relevant to potential employers.
  • If you have a lot of experience (more than one employer) in a particular industry that you’re interested in, you might consider splitting this up. For example: Healthcare Experience (list your relevant employers) and then Other Experience (list all other employers).
  • List your employment in reverse chronological order, detailing the employer’s full name, city/state, title of your position, and dates of employment.
  • Use past tense action verbs for former employers and present tense action verbs for present employers (see verb list below).
  • Your descriptions should emphasize your responsibilities, contributions, and achievements. Most importantly, focus on those tasks that use skills relevant to the practice of law. Such skills include research and writing, negotiating, analyzing data, decision-making, communicating, and supervising.
  • When describing your experience, make sure you give specific details so that the employer can see more fully the breadth of your experience. For example, rather than simply stating, “conducted research and drafted memoranda,” provide a sense of the substance of the work, e.g. “conducted research and drafted memoranda regarding copyright issues, including works-for-hire, payment of royalties, and injunctive relief against infringers.”
  • When describing non-legal experience, focus on research, writing, organization/ attention to detail, management, business development/ outreach.

(Optional) Community Service Section

  • • If you are looking to develop a career in public service, it would be advisable to emphasize relevant volunteer or community service. Detail experiences as described in the “Experience” section.

(Optional) Skills Section

  • For language skills, use the following descriptors:
    • Native: only if your first language was other than English
    • Fluent: can speak, read, and write
    • Proficient: can speak and read
    • Basic or Working Knowledge: can speak and understand, but wouldn’t be comfortable holding a conversation in this language for very long

(Optional) Interests Section

  • If you include an “Interests” section, be as detailed as possible so that it prompts the interviewer to ask you about it. They would be less likely to ask you about “Reading” than they would about your love of J.R.R. Tolkien.

Submitting Your Documents To Potential Employers

  • Follow the employer’s instructions as to their preferred method of receiving application materials.
  • For paper submissions, print on high-quality paper.
  • For electronic submissions,
    • Be sure to convert documents to PDF to preserve formatting.
    • Save documents with your last name and the type of document (cover letter, resume, etc.) as the file name.