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February 4, 2019

Emerging Legal Resume Trends for 2019

According to the bureau of labor statistics, lawyer employment is projected to increase 6% by 2020. By 2026, a growth of up to 10% is predicted for most legal professions. While the legal industry’s hiring outlook is strong, it’s also competitive. Case in point: more students graduate from law school each year than there are jobs available.

Your resume is likely a prospective employer’s first impression of you, and you don’t get much time to make it; 40% of hiring managers spend less than one minute reviewing a resume. With that in mind, how can you stand out in a crowded talent pool? Consider these emerging resume trends, and a few tried-and-true best practices, when beginning your job search.

Trend 1: Resume Format

When it comes to legal resumes, you want to get noticed in a good way. While formats differ across industries, the legal profession leans toward a clean, well-organized layout. Still, simple doesn’t have to be boring. Your format can lend itself to a subtle sophistication with the right components. Resume trends show an increase in graphic elements, such as a chart or table, that summarize qualifications. We recommend using the standard resume format over Curriculum Vitae (CV), but if you’re a recent graduate with more academic accomplishments than work experience, a CV is also permissible.

Trend 2: Resume Length

Resume length is arguably one of the most discussed trends among job seekers and hiring managers. The traditional single-page rule is slightly outdated. While this is good news for those with a long career history, keep in mind the attention span of your audience. Stick to one page if you’re able to convey your career history and accomplishments without crowding the space or using a font size smaller than 11 pt. Don’t be afraid of white space though – an overly crowded resume can be difficult for hiring managers to skim – or exceeding a single page. A good rule of thumb is to ensure that your resume tells a condensed, but compelling, story of your professional history. Make quick work for prospective employers by highlighting the most important elements of your resume. Remember that every detail should count. If it’s unrelated to the job for which you’re applying, leave it out. When it comes to voice, stick to first person, but avoid using personal pronouns.

Trend 3: Resume Content

There are a few non-negotiable sections to include on your legal resume:

  1. Heading. Your name, physical address, email address and phone number should reside at the top of your resume so that hiring managers can easily locate your contact information.
  2. Summary. A career summary gives hiring managers a quick glance of what you can bring to the table.
  3. Education. Whether you list your education or your experience first will depend on which you want to emphasize. If you’re just starting your career and want to display an Ivy League degree or an internship for a high-profile firm, lead with education. If you’ve got several years of experience under your belt and want to highlight a high-profile case or prestigious employer, start with experience.
  4. Experience. Under the experience section, separate experience – legal, professional, academic, volunteer if applicable. Otherwise keep the information straightforward. Along with hard skills you want to highlight, remember to include soft skills, such as team work or a strong work ethic. You may not think they’re as critical, but 57% of leaders say soft skills are more important than hard skills.

Once you’ve filled in all of these sections, look back through your resume to be sure you’ve included appropriate keywords. While you don’t want to “stuff” your document with too many industry buzzwords, including a few well-placed keywords will help illustrate your knowledge of the industry. Just as you customize each cover letter for the appropriate company, you should also pepper your resume and cover letter with language used in the job posting to which you’re applying. This will help convey that your experience and skills are a strong match for the requirements and qualifications listed.

Trend 4: Leverage Social Media

Your LinkedIn profile serves as a professional resume online. According to a recent Money magazine article, 90% of recruiters use LinkedIn, and nearly every industry uses LinkedIn to find and vet candidates. An up-to-date, professional profile presents your qualified self to the world. This is where employers, industry influencers and company CEOS meet and connect with strong applicants. Make sure your LinkedIn profile is up-to-date and professional.

Trend 5: Resume File Name

The last thing most job seekers think about is the file name of their resume. That needs to change. The sheer number of resumes sent via email to a law firm makes them difficult to organize and track. Anything you can do to make their job easier will help to make your resume stand out. Consider how a hiring manager might organize all the resume documents received. File names such as “2019 Resume” or, worse, a long string of characters and numbers, only make it more difficult to tell your file apart from others. Instead, create a file naming convention that will likely make sense to the recipient. Include the name of the law firm, your last name and the date: Lawfirm_Lastname_2-15-19. That way, the recipient can gather necessary information before even opening the file.

Trend 6: Before You Hit ‘Send’

It’s worth noting that there is one particular resume requirement that hasn’t changed in decades. Roughly 80% of hiring managers immediately disqualify resumes that contain grammatical mistakes or typos. It’s critical that you have a second, and even a third, pair of eyes look over your resume to ensure you’ve not missed anything. Even the most careful editors and those with strong written communication skills can miss a typo after looking at the same document over and over again. There is a science behind this theory – our minds read what we want to see, not what’s actually there. Bringing in a proofreader is not a sign of weakness, but a sign of intelligence.

Finding the right position can be stressful and time consuming. If you’re searching for the perfect career opportunity in the legal industry, JurisTemps can help. We’ve been servicing St. Louis’ legal community for more than 20 years. Our long-time relationships with St. Louis-based law firms and enterprise companies can give you an edge on the competition. If you’re serious about your next career move, we’re serious about helping you find and successfully apply for your next position. Contact us today – we look forward to assisting you!

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