Attorneys are familiar with the competitive nature of the legal job marketplace. A well-written resume can make all the difference and help you stand out above the competition. When choosing the best resume format, consider your level of experience, your ability to interact with and manage others and your time management skills.
Functional vs. Chronological Resumes
One of the first decisions you will need to make involves what type of resume to use. Your resume may be chronological, functional or a chrono-functional hybrid. Most professionals prefer chronological resumes, making them the best resume format to choose when applying for any position within the legal profession. In your chronological resume, you will list your experience in reverse chronological order, providing your most recent employment information first and working backwards throughout your employment history.
Functional resumes are generally used by those who have complications with their employment records. When possible, avoid using functional resumes in the legal realm. Employers want to see your experience, your accomplishments at each job and your past job requirements. Functional resumes do not always include these types of information. Instead of a strictly functional resume, considering using a chrono-functional hybrid resume. This format begins with a functional section of information, which highlights your skills and accomplishments, followed by a truncated work experience section that includes dates of employment. This way, your skills as opposed to job gaps or shortages of relevant experience will get across strongly to the reader.
What Information and Sections a Lawyer Resume Should Include and Why
After you have chosen how to organize your information, incorporate relevant and succinct information into each section for the best resume format. Legal resumes start with your contact information at the top. Next, you should list your education, beginning with your alma mater and followed by any internships, activities or organizations you have affiliated with. For each, list any awards or honors you received while in college and law school. If you are a recent graduate, many employers will want you to list your class rank for law school as well. Those who have five or more years of experience in the field should not bother include their class rank information as their competency should be self-evident from their ample experience.
After your education section, list your jurisdictions of admissions. Then, you will include your work experience in reverse chronological order. For each position, list your accomplishments, being as specific as possible. If you are a new law graduate and do not have legal work experience, think about the skills you have from previous jobs and how those skills can help you in the practice of law.
Tips for the best resume format for a Lawyer
When you understand the best resume format to use, the next step is to make some final changes to its appearance. Consider the visual impression your resume makes. Lawyers should make sure they use a professional-looking font in at least an 11-point size. You should use heavyweight paper and provide good margins around the edges of each page to aid in its readability, such as 0.75-1 inch. Attorney resumes should be devoid of extraneous lines and pictures. Do not use color in your resume. It’s best to have more than one set of eyes looking it over so you are better able to edit it; after you have drafted it, have a trusted friend review it.
LiveCareer has more tips available to help you format the best resume. You can learn hints and tricks about writing a strong cover letter to send with your resume. Once you have landed an interview, there are also tips for how to prepare for it and how to handle it successfully.