Resume Tips for Recent Grads

The job market in law firms for recent grads is on fire right now! For the first time in years, firms are actively seeking to hire recent grads. A lot of young professionals have never considered a career in legal recruiting or marketing, but law firms are a great place for intelligent and hardworking young professionals to launch a career. Many of the people whom we placed early in their careers are now senior managers and directors!

Even though opportunities for recent grads are more plentiful than ever, it’s still crucial to have a well-written resume that is tailored to the legal industry. If you have a recent grad in your life, or you are a recent grad yourself, here are a few resume tips for putting your best foot forward:

  1. Shorter is better. If you are a recent grad, your resume should never be more than one page.
  2. Nobody will read your resume from start to finish. Not only is this true in my own experience, there have even been studies on it! Recruiters and hiring managers will jump around when they read, focusing on titles, companies and schools. The closer something is to the top, the more likely people will see it.
  3. Focus on what’s relevant. Dedicate the most space to the internships, jobs, volunteer work and skills that most closely align with the job you are applying for. Remember that different things are relevant to different jobs. I spoke with one recent grad whose resume really highlighted her volunteer work abroad. This section took up so much space I almost didn’t notice that she had done recruiting for her sorority. Even though she was more proud of volunteering, it was the sorority recruiting that was most relevant to the job she wanted.
  4. Choose a clean, conservative, easy-to-read format. I promise you that no one in the legal industry has ever said, “What a unique resume format – I have to meet with this candidate!” The number-one goal for a recent grad’s resume should be to exude professionalism.
  5. Once you pick your format, stick to it! If you are bolding your job titles, they all need to be bolded. If you decide to spell out the names of the months, they all need to be spelled out.
  6. Don’t forget your last job when updating. I have seen several candidates forget to change “present” to an end date for previous positions, as well as leave the verbs in present tense.
  7. Don’t oversell yourself. Words like “expertise” should not be on the resumes of most recent grads – you are still developing your skills, and that’s ok. They do call them entry-level jobs, after all.
  8. Use verbs instead of adjectives. In other words, show, don’t tell. Instead of saying “highly organized,” say “organized an event for 300 people.”
  9. When submitting your resume, pay attention to email font. I have received several emails that are in three different fonts because the sender was copy/pasting. When you send a cover letter or thank you note via email, highlight the entire message and select the same font, size and text color just to be on the safe side.
  10. Make sure to actually send your resume! If you are reaching out to a recruiter or new contact, always include your resume. It makes you look more prepared and speeds up the recruiting process.

If you or someone you know is looking for an entry-level job in law firms, there is no better way to get your foot in the door than through a recruiter. A good recruiter can not only help you tailor your resume, they will help get your resume actually seen, and will teach you how to talk about your experiences when you interview. Follow the steps above when creating your resume, and you’ll make a great first impression on your recruiter!

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