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Crafting the Perfect Legal Resume: 8 Tips from Legal Recruitment Experts

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The Perfect Legal Resume

Crafting the Perfect Legal Resume: 8 Tips from Legal Recruitment Experts

In today’s competitive legal job market, having a standout resume is very important. As legal recruitment experts, we understand the importance of a well-crafted legal resume in securing your dream role. This comprehensive guide aims to provide you with actionable tips to create a the perfect legal resume, tailored to the demands of the profession in 2024.

1. Tailor Your Resume to the Legal Profession and to the Role You Are Applying For

Understanding the nuances of the legal profession is key to crafting an effective resume. Highlight your experience in legal settings, focusing on the experience you have gained and the work you have done in your current and previous legal roles. Your time working at McDonalds as a teenager isn’t relevant, so you can leave that out!

Speak your prospective employer’s language – use industry-specific terms and emphasise skills and experiences that are directly relevant to the position you’re applying for. Keywords such as ‘commercial litigation’ for example (or real estate development or whatever your practice area is), ‘insolvency matters’, and ‘business development’ for example should feature prominently, aligned with the job description.

2. Showcase Your Legal Skills

The perfect legal resume should spotlight the specific skills that make you an excellent candidate for the position. This includes both hard skills, say public and private mergers and acquisitions for example, knowledge of legal research platforms and understanding of regulatory compliance, and soft skills, such as critical thinking, effective communication and business development skills. Remember, law firms and in-house legal teams value professionals who are not only proficient in law but also excel in client interactions and teamwork.

3. Highlight Educational Achievements

Your educational background is particularly significant in the legal profession. Include your law degree, any other degrees you hold, post graduate qualifications (eg Graduate Diploma of Legal Practice) certifications, and relevant courses (e.g. QLS Practice Management Course), focusing on those that are most applicable to the job you’re seeking. If you graduated with honours or received any academic awards, make sure these are visible on your resume. Additionally, if you’ve attended industry-specific workshops or seminars, list these to demonstrate your commitment to continuous learning and staying updated with legal trends.

4. Legal Experience and Matter Highlights

Experience is a cornerstone of any legal resume. List your legal positions in reverse chronological order, starting with the most recent. For each role, provide a brief description of your duties and accomplishments. Highlight significant matters / transactions (redacting names to maintain confidentiality if required) you’ve worked on, strategies you’ve developed, or any notable successes that demonstrate your expertise and impact in previous positions.

5. Professional Affiliations and Community Involvement

Membership in legal associations, such as law society committees for example, shows your commitment to the legal community. Similarly, volunteering for legal aid services or participating in community outreach programs can reflect your dedication to using your skills for public good. These experiences can set you apart from other candidates, showcasing your broader interests and commitment to the profession.

6. Attention to Detail: Proofreading and Format

In the legal profession, attention to detail is paramount. A resume with typos or grammatical errors can severely undermine your credibility. Proofread your resume multiple times and consider having a mentor or colleague review it. Additionally, maintain a professional and clean format that makes your resume easy to read and visually appealing. Stick to traditional fonts and avoid unnecessary graphics or colours.

Photos in resumes tend to divide recruiters. Whilst I’m not opposed to a professionally taken, professional looking photo in a resume (please no selfies!), the safest play is to leave out the photo (it’s not necessary or expected in the legal profession). In the age of LinkedIn, we generally recommend substituting a photo with a link to your LinkedIn profile.

7. Leave Your Referees’ Names and Contact Details Out of Your CV

In today’s job market, safeguarding personal information is more important than ever, which is why we advise candidates not to include their referees’ contact details directly on their CVs. Instead, opting for the phrase “References available upon request” can be a more secure and professional approach. This practice respects the privacy of your referees by not disclosing their contact information unnecessarily and ensures that they are only contacted by serious potential employers who have expressed a clear interest in your application. It also gives you the opportunity to brief your referees about the position and the qualities the employer is looking for, ensuring they are well-prepared to provide relevant and supportive feedback about your skills and experiences.

Moreover, this approach allows you to control the timing of when your referees are contacted, preventing them from being inundated with calls from multiple employers. This can be particularly beneficial if you are applying for several jobs, as it allows you to tailor which referees are best suited for each specific role based on their knowledge of your work and achievements. By saying “References available upon request”, you maintain professionalism in your job application process, while also protecting the privacy and time of your valued referees.

8. Include a Compelling Cover Letter

While your resume provides a comprehensive overview of your professional background, a personalised cover letter can make a significant difference. Use this opportunity to express your enthusiasm for the role, explain why you’re a good fit for the position, and provide context to your resume. Address the letter to the hiring contact, if possible, and keep it concise and impactful.

Crafting the perfect legal resume requires time and attention. By following these expert tips, you can create a resume that not only showcases your qualifications and experiences but also resonates with legal recruiters. Remember, your resume is your first impression on potential employers, so make it count. In the competitive landscape of 2024, a well-crafted legal resume is your key to unlocking new career opportunities in the legal profession.

If you would like help preparing the perfect legal resume, please don’t hesitate to contact Anthony Dare.

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