New Year, New Resume! Elevating Your Resume So It Really Shines During the Holidays


As the year draws to a close, typically this is when most of us finally find some time to reflect, rejuvenate and perhaps even start thinking about the year ahead.  If you are interested in exploring new opportunities in the new year, this may be the perfect time to sit down and rework (or completely revamp) your resume. As recruiters, we see firsthand what a thoughtfully crafted resume can do and how much impact it can have in highlighting your qualifications and making a winning first impression with potential employers. In this article, we will go through some resume drafting basics to save you time and help you craft a standout resume.


What resume format should you use?


While there are several types of resume formats to choose from, we recommend going with a chronological format. A chronological resume lists your work experience in reverse-chronological order, starting from your most recent position. This format emphasizes your work history and where you gained your experience.


Here are some tips for composing an eye-catching resume:


  • Consistency is key. Ensure the font type, font size and line spacing are uniform to create a professional and polished appearance.
  • Enhance readability by dividing your resume into clear and distinct sections. The most common sections we see are: Contact information – Include your name, location, phone number and email address. Remember that you don’t have to provide your exact home address; listing a city and the state that you reside in is sufficient. Summary or bio – Keep your professional summary brief (three to five sentences). Use this section to provide a high-level overview of the experience and skills most relevant to the job you’re applying for. Professional experience – For each role, use bullet points (one to two sentences each) to highlight your day-to-day responsibilities, skills gained and any special projects you worked on. Education – Include any degrees and certifications you’ve earned and where you earned them.

One question we’re often asked is “How long should my legal resume be?” That really depends on you and how much work experience you have under your belt. There’s no need to cram everything into one page. Most candidates we see have resumes between one and three pages, which is an acceptable length.


Tailoring your resume to the job you want


Before customizing your resume for different positions, we recommend having a master version that encompasses your overall experience. From there, you can edit the original document for each specific position you’re applying to.


When tailoring your resume, the first goal is to align it as much as possible with the target job description. Prioritize the key non-negotiable skills the role requires. For instance, we can assume a commercial counsel role would call for expertise in negotiating and drafting contracts. However, most employers want to see hands-on experience in specific sub-areas (e.g., sales contracts, procurement contracts and NDAs). Specific keywords will help quickly flag relevant skills to hiring managers, especially when there’s a large pool of applicants to consider. Additionally, the terms and phrases you include will highlight your resume if a keyword search is being run in their applicant tracking system.


Another thing that can help you tailor your resume is hopping on LinkedIn to find people who currently work for the organization you’re applying to. Look at their background and gauge the types of experience they have. This will give you a better sense of the types of skills and experience the employer is looking for.


What if you don’t have the depth and breadth of experience a position is seeking? In that case, figure out which skill sets you do have that could translate to the role and highlight them in your resume. Oftentimes, a job ad will list “nice to haves” or note where they have some flexibility. That’s why it’s important to thoroughly read every job description. For instance, an in-house product counsel role may indicate the team is open to candidates with litigation experience in lieu of direct product counseling experience. This is likely because they’ve found candidates with that background have been successful in the role. Keep in mind most hiring teams will have some areas of flexibility when considering resumes, since it provides a way to expand the candidate pool on their end.


Top resume DOs and DON’Ts


Once you’ve customized your resume to fit your desired position, it’s time to give it a good once-over. Sticking to best practices and avoiding classic blunders can help you fine-tune your draft into an impressively polished piece:


  • DO ensure that your LinkedIn profile matches your resume. Think of LinkedIn as your public resume. Many hiring managers will review a candidate’s LinkedIn profile so make sure your LinkedIn profile accurately reflects your experience and aligns with your resume.
  • DO highlight your successes. Beyond just listing your job responsibilities, include at least one bullet point per position that talks about your accomplishments in the role.
  • DO include action verbs. Start each bullet point in your work experience section with action verbs. This makes your statement more impactful and demonstrates your active role in previous positions. For example, use verbs like “achieved,” “implemented” and “collaborated” to describe your achievements.
  • DON’T include irrelevant information. Avoid adding extraneous details that are not linked to the job in some way. If you have positions on your resume that are more than 10 years old, limit the descriptions for those positions to a few short bullet points.
  • DON’T use an unprofessional email address. Ensure your contact information reflects professionalism. Use a simple email address that encompasses your full name and avoid any nicknames. It’s very simple and easy to create a dedicated professional email address if you need to.
  • DON’T rely too heavily on templates or AI-powered writing systems. These tools can be helpful, but don’t depend on them to do the heavy lifting. If you do use them, you should still review your resume thoroughly to ensure it is accurate and error-free.

Although your resume may not be the first thing you think of when deciding your to-dos this holiday season, we highly encourage you to use the downtime to refine your resume and make this strategic investment into your career. The new year will most definitely present new opportunities and what better way to seize those opportunities than to be prepared with a thoughtfully crafted resume.



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