What 10 sections recruiters and hiring managers are looking for in a legal resume
1. Your bio
This is your chance to quickly define yourself in a recruiter’s mind. Right under your name, these few words make a statement about who you are and what you want. This contextualizes the rest of your resume, making all of your other resume sections that much more effective.
2. Your strengths
This section should be a very direct response to the job description. Look at what traits the employer is expecting from you and try to include them here. However, this is also the time to use the “show don’t tell” methodology. Be sure to back up the strengths you’re claiming if you can. This could be a story or some metrics, but including something to back it up will always make your strengths section more impactful.
3. Your experience
Every legal resume includes an experience section, so how can you use yours to stand out? Start with structuring it the right way. Then, be sure you don’t overwhelm the reader with too many positions or unnecessary detail. Consider what information they need and provide it in the most efficient way possible.
But beyond the basics, the first key element is in how you describe your experience. Focus on your impact instead of just your responsibilities and use concrete numbers when possible. Below, you can see how Christopher Curran’s legal resume showcases his experience as an immigration attorney with a focus on impact.
4. What makes you unique
Law firms and companies don’t just hire a resume, they hire a person. That’s why it makes sense to devote a portion of your legal resume to showing what makes you unique as a person. This is also a good place to include information relevant to the position you’re applying to but which doesn’t naturally fit into other sections. One of our favorite ways to do this is using Enhancv’s “my time” section as Aronas has done here.
5. Your languages
Whether or not your particular legal work environment is multilingual, showing that you speak multiple languages increases the likelihood you’ll get hired. Why? It shows dedication, intellectual ability, and curiosity. In other words, it demonstrates that you have traits which employers are likely to be looking for.
6. What you’re most proud of
You may be asking what this section has to do with your legal career. But in reality, showing what you’re proud of does several crucial things for a legal resume. First, it’s another place to include valuable information which demonstrates that you have the qualities an employer is looking for but which don’t fit into any other section. It’s also a fantastic place to include some personality, demonstrate culture fit, and make yourself more memorable to recruiters.
7. Your philosophy
Much like your bio section, including a brief philosophy can add powerful context to the rest of your resume. If you have a core belief that guides how you approach the law, this is the place to include it. It can be as general or specific as you need, just be sure it speaks to who you are and relates to the job description if possible.
8. Your favorite legal books
Is there a book which inspired you to study law? Are there legal books which define how you approach your job? This is the place to include them. Rather than just including any books you love, this section does best when you use it to highlight important influences and inspirations which impact how you do your job every day.
9. Your contact information
There’s a good chance you’re rolling your eyes and thinking this is obvious, but stick with us for a moment. Plenty of applicants actually get this section wrong, making it one of the spots recruiters can look to quickly disqualify an applicant. So consider how you’d like to be contacted, whether your email is professional enough, and how easy you’re making it for the recruiter to get in touch.
10. Your education
Obviously your legal education is essential to include on your resume. But consider what details you’d like to include alongside the basics. Do you want to include your GPA? What about details about work you did while studying? Carefully consider the job description and what information will help show you’re the right candidate.
How to get a referral on LinkedIn for the Legal role you want
In most cases, the most effective thing you can do to improve your chances of getting hired is to get referred to a position. Referred employees are hired 60% of the time compared to everyone else who make it to an interview just 2% of the time. Needless to say, investing in the kind of personal connections and networks you need to get such a referral is invaluable.
So before you start applying, be sure to check your 1st and 2nd degree contacts in both LinkedIn and in any other relevant groups you may belong to. If you don’t have strong connections in the industry you’re looking to establish yourself in, start making them now!
Check out our guide on getting referrals for any job you’re applying for.