The vast majority of resumes we see are consistent with the way most of us were taught to write a resume – provide a chronological summary of your employment history and education. There is nothing incorrect about this format but is it really your best tool for marketing yourself to a potential employer?
When applying for a job you must assume that there are literally hundreds of other candidates. So what makes an employer select certain candidates over others for an interview? For some, the Ivy League education and top international law firm experience is sufficient. For the rest of us, you better hope that your resume adequately describes how you can address the employer’s needs for the job opening. It is really difficult to specifically address the client’s needs in the typical summary fashion that most resumes are prepared – especially if it is a general resume that is used for multiple job openings. The key to writing an effective resume is take each job opening as an individual and unique opportunity to demonstrate why you are the right candidate for the job.
When preparing your resume, or perhaps a supplement to your general resume, your mindset should be on marketing your skills and abilities for that particular job – not simply rehashing the past. Use the job description, information on the employer (law firm or company), and industries they serve to identify the pertinent areas to cover.
Clearly this is difficult to do in a single page but no one expects an attorney to have a single page resume anyway. A multiple page resume or resume with a detailed addendum can be several pages long but it is critical to convey the message in an easy to read format. The use of practice area/experience headings followed by bullet point descriptions (no longer than a sentence or two) is a good way to hit key areas while keeping it clear and concise.
Although the market is improving and we are seeing more job opportunities, there are still a lot of people looking for jobs. Why not give yourself a chance to standout by preparing a resume that adequately demonstrates the value you can add to a given employer.