Category Archives: Application Materials

Resumé Facts

**ONE spelling or grammar mistake will cause your resumé to be discarded.  Check, then check again.  Have someone look it over for you as well.

**76% of resumés are ignored if the email is unprofessional.

**88% of resumés are ignored if you have a photo of yourself on it.  Please consult a Career Services Counselor to work on your resumé and reference the Career Services Handbook for examples of the correct form.  Call 256-7744 to make an appointment.

**89% of employers use social media to recruit–ensure your sites are professional and that your Linkedin account is current. 

**68% of employers will find you on Facebook.  Make sure what they find will not eliminate you from the professional employment opportunities to which you are applying.

Cover Letter Tips!

Certain words seem to show up in all cover letters.  If you want to make your cover letters to stand out, delete these words and rephrase.

1.  Hope–The firm to which you are applying wants to know about your skills and abilities, not what you are hoping will happen.  Instead of “I hope to be able to contribute my skills to your firm”, switch it up to “I look forward to speaking with you about my qualifications”.

2.  Hone–I am guilty of this.  But it admittedly is overused.  Intead of “during my internship I honed my skills”, write how your experience “developed” or “sharpened” your skills, or how your “research culminated in a report to your supervising attorney which was used during trial”.  Stated this way, there is no doubt of your abilities.

3.  Drawn–You can be drawn to a person, but a firm wants to know that you are a match for the type of work they are producing and that your mindset is similar to theirs, not that you are drawn to their firm for their reputation or location.

4.  Feel–Notice the difference:  I feel the relationship management skills I built while working at the Public Defender’s Office are a match for The Jones Firm’s commitment to outstanding client relationships.  OR  The relationship management skills I built while working at the Public Defender’s Office are a match for The Jones Firm’s commitment to outstanding client relationships.  The second example is more powerful and creative and will be more apt to get your cover letter noticed. 

Write strongly and with conviction and you will give yourself an edge.

Resume Workshop–February 14th

 

Is Your Resume Flawless?  Are You Sure? Join the Career Services Department on Thursday, February 14th at Noon in Room 455 for a Resume Workshop. CSD Counselor Ray Adams will review what makes a legal resume stand out and how to get noticed (in a good way) among the sea of applicants! 

 

Stay a step ahead of your competition and learn some new tips. Even if you think your resume is perfect, a quick refresher is always a great idea!  Make sure to bring your computer to work on your resume while you learn!

 

Pizza and refreshments will be served. RSVP through Symplicity or First Semester 1Ls can send an e-mail to careerservices@fcsl.edu.

 

Update Your Resume!

The dawn of the new year may be a good time to pull our your resume, update it with any legal job experiences, and polish it up so that it is readily available as soon as you find a job opportunity for which you might want to apply.  To ensure it is in final form, follow this checklist:

1.  Review the resume samples in the Career Services Handbook under the “Application Materials” tab.  Don’t have an updated Handbook?  Come by our office to pick up one or see us in the atrium each Wednesday from 2:00 p.m. to 4:00 p.m.  Grab a free cup of coffee while you are there.

2.  Check your heading.  Is your name more noticeable than anything else on the page?  This requires the right balance of font and size.  If you are unsure, run it by your Career Counselor.  Don’t have one?  Make an appointment by calling our office at 680-7744 or request an appointment online.

3.  Check your font.  It should be either 11 points or 12 points, and the style should be either Times Roman or Garamond.  Use the same font throughout the entire document.

4.  NEVER put your picture on your resume.  (Yes, there actually are some students who do this.)

5.  Proof for typos and spelling by reading the document backwards from the bottom of the page up.  This keeps your eye from automatically filling in what it thinks it should see when you read phrases or sentences.  By reading backwards, the focus will be on each individual word.

6.  Do your descriptions of your work experience convey the specific skills your utilized and list examples?  The most specific you can be, the better.  For example, list types of motions you prepared rather than simply stating that you prepared motions.  It is more impressive to state that you prepared motions to dismiss, motions for summary judgment, motions for judgment notwithstanding the verdict, and motions in limine.

Does Your Resume Need An Update?

Resumes are often a law firm’s first glimpse of you, so it is important to make a great first impression!  For example, it is a myth that your resume must include every single job experience you’ve ever had.  A resume is your opportunity to highlight experiences that are relevant to the job to which you are applying.  As such, you should carefully select jobs which were meaningful and which reflect the skills and abilities needed to perform the position you are seeking.  Including too many experiences can overshadow the more important ones.  Ask yourself what the experience demonstrates about you and whether it is necessary for this position.

Create the Perfect Cover Letter

A cover letter is an important tool in your job hunt.  While a resume lists your education, experience and skills, it may not convey if you are a good fit for the law firm or organization.  That’s where your cover letter comes in–it helps the employer get a full picture of you, but it’s important to get it right!

1.  Tailor each cover letter to the firm or organization for the specific position you want.  Form letters (yes, employers can usually detect if it is a form letter) may eliminate you from consideration.

2.  Address your letter to the hiring partner or other designated person.  If you don’t know who that is–find out by contacting the firm.  Never, ever write “to whom it may concern”.

3.  Sell yourself.  This is your chance to let the firm know YOU are the right person for the job.

4.  It can be used as an opportunity to explain gaps in your employment, a return to school, staying home to raise a family or illness.

5.  Research the firm and possibly work in details like referencing a published case tried by the firm to give yourself an edge.  Showing you’ve done your homework will show that you are enthusiastic about this position.

6.  Check it and then double check.  Ensure there are no mistakes, whether they be spelling, grammatical, or factual, and make sure you’ve signed the letter.

7.  Use the right format.  If you have questions in this regard, please consult the Career Services Handbook in the Application Materials section, or make an appointment with one of our counselors through Symplicity.

Do you know the requirements for YOUR state’s bar?

The American Bar Association is the world’s largest voluntary professional organization, with nearly 400,000 members and more than 3,500 entities and is a great resource for the practicing attorney, as well as the law student. 

For example, the ABA website aggregates all state bar association sites and includes information regarding any other specific requirements that need to be fulfilled in order to be licensed in your state.  The link can be found through Symplicity’s document library and it is a good idea to check it out to make sure you are covering all your bases.

For more information, check out the ABA site by clicking here.

 

Mind Your P’s and Q’s: Netiquette for Law Student

Online etiquette is critical for any law student seeking a position with a law firm.  Law firms tend to be very traditional institutions focused on preserving their reputations as community leaders and professionals.  To demonstrate that you are a good fit for their culture, you need to ensure that your online presence comports with the firm’s policies and that you follow the simple rules of online etiquette, or what has now been coined as “netiquette.” 

First, be ethical.  Remember that you are subject to a code of ethics regarding confidentiality.  Before sharing successes online or griping about opposing counsel on a case, make sure that the information is public and is not confidential.  And avoid giving any sort of legal advice online.  Even if a friend emails you a quick question that you elect to answer, make it clear that you are not offering actual legal advice and that you do not have a lawyer-client relationship.  This may be best done by preparing a short statement to follow your signature line so that your friend understands it is something you include on any such correspondence. 

Second, be professional and put your best e-footprint forward.  Use social media for its intended purpose.  For example, if you want to share a funny and tasteful joke, it is more appropriate for Facebook and should not be included on LinkedIn.  Also, consider whether your post has the potential to harm or offend others.  Always be aware that what you email or post can be forwarded to countless other people whom you never intended to receive the information.

Finally, be responsible by exercising good judgment and common sense.  Avoid discussing overtly private issues on a public forum.  NEVER make any negative comments about a firm or judge in a public forum.  Above all, be honest at all times.  Exaggerating your account of a personal event in your life could lead to an integrity issue that affects your professional career, as well.

Should Your Resume Include References Available Upon Request?

According to a 2010 survey of employers, the answer is NO.  You should not include a statement on your resume that references are available upon request.  In fact, including such a statement was Number 9 on the employers’ Top Ten List of Resume Mistakes.  “References available upon request” is viewed as an archaic term, and if a prospective employer wants references from you, they will indeed request them without the necessity of your including such a statement on your resume.  Also, nix the objective statement.  First, it’s not appropriate for a legal resume, but even in other employment arenas, employers find it unnecessary.  It’s too subjective and does not accurately reflect your qualifications and skill.  Use the space instead to highlight a great legal experience, including the types of documents you drafted or court proceedings you attended.  That’s a much better use of the space.

What Is Your Social Media Strategy?

How many times have you looked at someone’s Facebook page only to ponder how they could have such poor judgment in deciding what to post?  Do you think law firms check social media sites for information about potential hires?  The answer is a resounding YES!  Thus, it is critical that every element of your online presence reflects your professional demeanor.  No problem, you might say.  I just limit my access on Facebook and other sites to “friends.”  But in this world of connectivity, you cannot rely on such filters.  Often, someone at the firm knows one of your friends, and they might ask that person to pull up your Facebook page for them.  Voila.  They now have photos of you that would make your mother cringe!  And in this competitive hiring market, you can’t make any mistakes in how you present yourself.  A single indiscretion recorded in your social media may be just enough to give another applicant the edge.  In upcoming posts, I will give you some tips on how you can avoid putting your cyber foot in your mouth.  Stay tuned!