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The main purpose of a resume is to get you an interview. Your resume conveys who you are and what you have done with your life. It also demonstrates your ability as a writer. Spend the time and effort needed to create a resume that:
Ideally, resumes should also be tailored to the type of job you are applying for: for example, a resume that is being sent to public interest employers would include more detail regarding public interest activities. Let's say you are applying to an environmental defense organization; you might include information regarding membership in the Sierra Club, Natural Resources Defense Council, etc., even if you did little more than attend meetings. If you are applying to a private law firm, however, memberships in organizations in which you did not hold an office or involve yourself in specific, notable projects would be one of the first things deleted. It is, however, important for you to examine your resume and make sure that you feel comfortable with it, because it is after all, a representation of who you are.
A legal resume is not the place to express artistic creativity. Instead, the resume should appear organized, structured and balanced. A resume should always be printed on 8 ½'' x 11'' paper. Use heavy bond paper that is white, off-white, or a pale shade of cream. Avoid using excessively large type for your name. Your name should be in bold type. Part of a balanced approach is the use of parallelism. For example, italicizing your title under the name of the employer (Judicial Intern, Research Assistant, Summer Associate) helps to pull together the look of your resume. Highlighting certain words, or using italics or bold is an effective way to make your resume more interesting to read. Be careful of too much of a good thing, though: overuse of bold or italics can make the resume appear cluttered and distract each reader. Use of different fonts is rarely effective. Choose a simple font and stay with it. The bottom line of resume writing is readability.
Most student resumes should be confined to one page. Although it may be necessary to change font size or margins to make your information fit on a page this trick should be used only as a last resort and not at the sacrifice of clarity.
Heading. Put your name, address, and telephone number at the top of your resume. Be sure to include your work (if applicable) and your home telephone numbers. Include your e-mail address and be sure to check it frequently. If you have an amusing email address, DO NOT use it. Use your Seton Hall account. If you are applying to employers in your home state, you may wish to include both your school and permanent addresses.
If you have attended a summer program, you have at least two options. You can describe your program in a separate listing, or it can be included as a sub-category under the appropriate undergraduate or law school.
London School of Economics, London, England
Studied political theory and European economics, Summer 1997
William and Mary, Williamsburg, VA
Bachelor of Arts, May 1998
Study Abroad: University of Madrid, Summer 1997
Indicate law school grades, honors, activities, law review, clinic, and research projects. It is typically not effective to include clubs or organizations in which you are only a member.
For example: GPA: 3.33 Rank: 78/232 If your grades improve, you might consider breaking down your GPA by semester or year to reflect that improvement. You might even break down your GPA by subject area. For example, if you are a tax student, you could indicate your overall GPA and then your GPA in your tax courses. If you choose to list any part of your GPA, you must also list the cumulative. The Registrar's Office lists the most recent semester's GPA as current GPA. If you were to list only that semester's GPA with the label current, most employers would believe that meant cumulative and it could inadvertently mislead them as to your overall GPA. That could prove embarrassing, at best, and damaging to your career opportunities, at worst. If you list both, it is acceptable to list the higher number first. Since people read left to right, they'll see the higher before the lower one.
GPA: 3.40, '99-00; Overall: 2.90
GPA: 3.35, Fall '99; 3.00, Overall
Tax Coursework GPA: 3.79; Overall GPA: 3.0
If your grades do not positively reflect your abilities, you may omit them. Know however, that some employers will not consider resumes that do not show some measure of academic performance, and that many employers assume that a failure to list a GPA indicates a poor academic record. Consult with a career counselor about how to proceed and at what point you should consider adding grades to your resume, as well as how to respond to questions on this topic. The general rule of thumb is that if the GPA is a 3.0 or better, or in the top 50%, include it. If it's below that mark, it may be better to exclude it.
When preparing your resume, keep in mind that inaccurate information with respect to your academic record or school activities can constitute grounds for revocation of a job offer and disciplinary action by the Law School.
For each position include:
It is difficult to prepare a resume as an application for legal employment that does not include legal experience. As a first year student who may have only worked part-time you may find yourself struggling with what to include and what not to include on your resume. Generally, you can indicate any of your prior employment if you know how to dress it up. For example, if you waitressed you might consider listing the corporation that owns the restaurant instead of the restaurant name as your employer. Someone who waitered at TGI Fridays could indicate that they worked for Carlson Restaurants Worldwide. You should also include the dates you worked, the location, "waitressed" and then include how many hours a week you worked and how much of your education you financed.
Skills/ Hobbies/ Interests and other categories.
The purpose of these categories is to facilitate conversation or break the ice during interviews, and to give employers a more well rounded view of your background. Some professionals think that a resume should not include this information. However, the practitioners who support listing your hobbies and interests usually have obtained employment at some point in their legal career because of what they listed here and a bond that it may have established with their interviewer. If you decide to include this information, be prepared to talk about it. Also, make sure your personal interests are descriptive. For example:
Spell Check: The Golden Rule
It is remarkable, in this era of the computer, the number of spelling and grammatical errors still found on resumes. The most frequent grammatical errors are incorrect use of capitalization, incorrect punctuation and failure to use parallel sentence structure. Use of grammatik may help identify these errors. Neither spell check or grammatik is foolproof, however, and nothing substitutes for several careful readings of your resume.
In a competitive market, it can be very tempting to exaggerate your credentials. You must resist this temptation! Be ethical and practical. All the information on your resume can, and very likely will, be verified. If you choose to participate in Seton Hall Law's On-Campus Recruitment Program in the spring of your first year, OCS will verify your grade and rank information before submitting your materials to employers. Most law schools, including Seton Hall, have student codes of professional responsibility. These codes include a statement cautioning students to avoid even the appearance of impropriety when they prepare their resumes, cover letters, application forms, and other career materials.
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