Creating a Standout Resume

Resume-iStockIf one of your current goals includes getting a new job, remember these tips when conducting your job search and updating your resume:

Choose the Right Email Address
Create an email address that includes your first and last name. Recruiters and HR directors receive hundreds of emails daily, and they often rely on Outlook and email software for recalling resumes. With that said, keep these hints in mind:

    • Most professionals know better than to have an inappropriate email address such as “Margarita Mama.” However, an indirect or confusing email address can also work against you. For example, if your email address is “TCSFamily” and your name is Joe Smith, your email address won’t appear when I search for you in Outlook.
    • Outlook’s AutoComplete feature allows me to type a name and bring up a corresponding email address. That’s why I suggest beginning your email address with your first name. If you choose to include numbers or other letters, simply add them at the end.
    • If you are currently employed and conducting a confidential job search, don’t use your work email address. Use a personal email address instead.
    • Many applicants find it’s best to create a new email address used only for your job search efforts – but remember to check it daily!

Give Your Resume the Right Name
Do you know how many resumes I receive titled, “2011 Resume?” It’s not difficult for me to rename your resume, but it does create an extra step and some extra frustration. Be sure your resume contains your first and last name and the year (e.g., “Electra Harelson Dec 2011 resume.doc”). This naming convention will also help you keep track of your most current resume.

Send Your Resume in Two Formats
You should have a resume prepared in both Microsoft Word and Adobe Acrobat – the two programs most commonly used by law firms, corporations and recruiters. When you email a resume, attach both versions.

  • A Word (or WordPerfect) version is helpful as it allows recruiters and HR directors to perform keyword searches or populate your information in a database.
  • A PDF version will ensure that the resume prints clearly if the formatting gets messed up in transmission.

Keep Lists
Maintain a master list of which companies and individuals have received your resume. If you work with a recruiter, ask the recruiter to contact you before sending your resume to a company or law firm. Sending a resume multiple times to the same company can make you look unorganized or, worse, desperate.

Watch the Job Boards
Even though I would love to find you a job, the fact is that some firms and companies won’t use recruiters. Create saved searches on multiple job boards so that you are aware of job postings as they arise.

Other Resume Tips

  • One Page or Two Pages:  Stick to one page if you have only a few years of experience. Otherwise, a two-page resume is fine. Most of us scan resumes in about one minute, so eliminate unnecessary words. Attorneys should create a separate document for representative cases or transactions which lists a variety of sample deals or cases.
  • Bullet Points versus Paragraphs: Personally, I prefer bullet points, but small paragraphs work well, too. Be sure to make the job descriptions short and succinct.
  • Areas of Practice: These should be listed at the beginning of your resume. Don’t try to list everything – just focus on the primary areas of your work.
  • Education Data: Be sure to include the year your received your degree(s). Even if you are more experienced, list the year you graduated. Many companies verify diplomas as part of their screening process, so they need your graduation date.
  • Formatting: If your resume is more than one page, create a header such as “Harelson, page 2.” It’s also helpful to create a footer with the document name or date of the resume. If you aren’t good at formatting documents, ask your teenager for help, or hire someone to type your resume for you.  But keep the formatting simple and easy to read.
  • References Available Upon Request:  Well, of course they are! Don’t waste space saying this. Simply create a separate document with three to five references and their contact information.

Having these tips in the forefront of your mind will get you closer to the front of the employment line. Good luck!

Electra Harelson is a Senior Placement Director for Special Counsel’s Dallas office.

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