|Build Your Resume|
Creating a resume is a process. You might go through several drafts before hitting on one that effectively displays your skills and experience. Keep in mind, this starter resume is a foundation. When applying for specific positions, it should be tailored to ensure it highlights the most relevant points.
To help you get started, the AJA offers a valuable on-line tool to assist you in organizing and building your resume.
Though the task might seem overwhelming, once you get the hang of it, it’s fairly straightforward. You might choose to create your own format, rather than turning to pre-packaged templates, to allow for greater customization in showcasing your skills and experience. Whether you choose to use our on-line resume builder or create a resume entirely on your own, check out the tips below to assist you in the process.
1. Create a list of your skills and experience
Start brainstorming and making notes. Write down every position held (whether paid or unpaid), organizations to which you’ve belonged, leadership positions, special projects you’ve initiated or were tapped to handle, honors or awards, languages you speak, computer skills, special interests or hobbies, travel, or anything else significant. Not all of these are likely to be included in your final version, but a running list of your skills and experience can help you craft and tailor a resume for any opportunity.
2. Clarify career goals and objectives
Review the descriptions of internships or jobs that interest you. Reflect on what you’d like to do, possible career paths that interest you, or experiences you’d like to explore. Identify different skills and objectives among the postings that might match or complement yours.
3. Step into an Employer’s Shoes
What would the hiring manager (at the law firm or company that interests you) look for in an intern or employee? Highlight skills and qualifications that might be required to be successful. Then, revisit your skills and experience list.
Consider the items that most closely relate to the type of job you want. Which demonstrate the kinds of skills outlined in the posting? Select those items that highlight your experience and relate your qualifications to the position as you imagine it in the mind of the employer. Don’t screen out too much. Include major items even if they aren’t immediately related. You now have the basic items for your resume.
4. Organize your items into categories
Categories could include highlighted qualifications, education, experience, skills, languages, and awards. If you want to emphasize your skills rather than positions held, you could organize your experience by skill sets; for example: writing/editing, areas of deep knowledge, leadership/management. The aim is to highlight and present skills and experience in a way that bolsters your candidacy for a particular position. Be specific and make the right conclusions easy to draw. Don’t expect an employer to read between the lines. Make sure your resume is 1-2 pages if you are a new attorney, and no more than 3 pages if you are a seasoned, experienced professional. A CV is longer than 3 pages only for those who are applying for positions where publishing credits are required, such as a position as a professor.
Once all of the text is written, format it to help make it more readable. Use bold, headers, lines, bullet points, tabs and other formatting tools to help separate sections, pop out subheadings, and help make the information palatable. Do not use a font that is smaller than 8 points.
Ask someone to proofread your resume. There is nothing worse than a resume that is full of grammatical, spelling, syntax or punctuation errors. Choose a person you know is a skilled writer. If you don’t know anyone, ask the AJA to connect you with a Mentor who might be able to help.