Top Resume Tips for Law Students
1. Resume Format & Structure
One of the biggest mistakes law students often make in their legal resume is not using a specific legal industry resume template. The reason it’s so important to use a legal industry resume template is to ensure the format and structure is correct.
A legal resume should resemble that of legal correspondence and should be black on white with no colour or fancy formatting.
One of the reasons using a legal resume template is so important is that it ensures you don’t miss any important information such as expected graduation dates, admission dates or key skills etc. It also ensures that your content is presented in such a way that makes sense to the reader, allowing them to quickly find the crucial information they are searching for.
Generally, when an employer reads your resume they are scanning the headings and content looking for the important information that is relevant to the role. By using a legal resume template you’re ensuring the content of your resume is displayed where the employer is expecting to find it.
On average, a potential employer will spend as little as 8 seconds reviewing your resume before deciding if you are suitable to shortlist and to be selected for an interview, this is why it’s so important to ensure the structure of your legal resume is correct. If it’s not, then you are severely limiting your chances of being shortlisted. A potential employer just doesn’t have the time to dig through your resume trying to find the important information they need to know about you, so it’s important you do everything possible to make their job a little easier.
Relevant Article: Guide to Writing a Professional Legal Resume
2. Tailor Your Resume
Tailor your resume to each role you’re applying to. This is important because different positions will have different requirements and different skills. When tailoring your resume ensure that you are paying special attention to the transferable skills you possess that are relevant to the advertised role.
For example, a legal receptionist requires a different skill set to a paralegal. So, if you were applying for a legal receptionist role you would highlight in your resume your communication, administration and organisational skills. If you were applying for a paralegal role you would highlight your legal technical skills such as writing/drafting ability and research skills.
It’s important that you spend time reading the job advertisement carefully, identifying the skills required to competently facilitate the role and then ensuring you have demonstrated how your skills will make you suitable for the role.
You don’t necessarily need to spend vast amounts of time re-drafting your entire resume each time, just ensure that you highlight your skills and experience that are relevant for the specific role. Most of the time that means just re-ordering and demonstrating different transferable skills.
3. Don’t Use a Template Cover Letter
Without question, do not use a cover letter template. Your cover letter should be uniquely written for every application. There’s nothing more off-putting to a potential employer than seeing a cover letter which is not written for the role they’ve advertised. It screams laziness and more than likely they will not even review your resume.
Your cover letter is your opportunity to really demonstrate how your skills and experience make you suitable for the position and gives the potential employer some insight into you as a person.
4. Identify & Demonstrate Your Skills
It’s tricky to write a legal resume when you have no legal experience (or limited legal experience). If you have never been employed in a similar role, the best way to demonstrate your suitability is to demonstrate that you have developed the same or similar skills needed form past work experience that can be used in the role you’re applying to.
To do this, start by identifying the skills you have learned from your past experience. What responsibilities or duties did you carry out that demonstrates how you obtained them?
Relevant Article: How to Write a Law Student Resume with No Legal Experience
5. Highlight Your Achievements
Often as a law student, you will have limited legal experience, or none at all, that’s ok. Demonstrate the skills you’ve learnt from your past achievements. This a great way to demonstrate you’ve learned some valuable skills whilst achieving some personal and professional milestones. You may have achievements from sports, school/university Involvement or community/volunteer involvement.
6. Leverage LinkedIn
Ensure your LinkedIn profile link is on your resume and use this to your advantage.
Many students ask if displaying their LinkedIn profile on their resume is a good idea, it definitely can be. Employers understand that as a law student your profile is not going to be a thriving hub of activity, but it does allow them to gain a glimpse of some social proof and gauge your level of activity within the legal industry.
What can you do to bolster your LinkedIn profile as a law student? Start connecting with other legal professionals and engage with relevant content, articles and legal industry news. No one is expecting you to be an expert, but to a potential employer, it shows that you’re passionate about the legal industry, you have the confidence to engage with others in the profession and that you are capable of networking and building relationships. These are important skills that you need to develop as most law firms place a heavy emphasis on professional networking.
Relevant Article: Establish Your Legal Career with Professional Branding