Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Resumes for New Lawyers

by Lynne Rhys, JD, ResumeEdge.com Editor, CPRW

If you’re a second- or third-year law student, you may already be applying for clerkships or permanent jobs following law school. Graduation from law school is no small feat – it takes dedication and stamina (and maybe slight masochistic tendencies) to withstand the brutal rigors of this three-year rite of passage. If you’re proud of yourself for pulling it off, you should be!

Still, graduation from law school is not the ticket to financial freedom it used to be. According to
American Bar Association statistics, over 43,000 people received law degrees during the 2006-2007 academic year. That’s a lot of lawyers. If you want to stand out from that very large crowd of smart people, a good resume isn’t going to be enough. You’ll need a great one! But how, exactly, do you write one?

First of all, think about what lawyers do on a day-to-day basis: Drafting. Negotiating. Collaborating. Advocating. Managing. Researching. Now, think about how those verbs apply to all the jobs you’ve had in the past. Chances are, you did many of the things lawyers do. Make sure the reader knows that.

Second, be absolutely honest. That’s not to say that you shouldn’t use strong language. After all, a resume is a document of advocacy. However, stretching the truth is a bad idea. You have stringent ethical requirements to uphold (both in letter and in spirit) and besides, you can’t be sure the employer won’t check your facts.

Third, leverage your law school and volunteer experience. For example, if you co-founded a student organization or nonprofit corporation, say so – and don’t forget to add that you drafted the bylaws and maneuvered your way through bureaucratic red tape to get the job done.

Finally, be conservative. It may be boring, but lawyers are a notoriously stuffy bunch of people, and they don’t like interesting colors or designs. It makes them nervous. You do have what it takes to stand out, even if you don’t have a single day of legal work experience. To make sure others see your talent, advocate for yourself – or hire an expert to do it for you.

Lynne Rhys-Jones is a Certified Professional Resume Writer who specializes in legal, entertainment, and management resumes. A freelance writer and musician, she holds a Juris Doctor degree from Harvard School, a Master of Science in Information Studies from Florida State University, and a Bachelor of Arts in Economics and Philosophy from the University of New Mexico. Request Lynne for your ResumeEdge.com product by keying in her last name only, no caps (rhys) in the 'request your editor' field of the ResumeEdge.com online form. http://www.resumeedge.com/

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

The Ins and Outs of Cover Letters

by David Jensen, ResumeEdge.com Editor, CPRW, CEIP

You might wonder if a cover letter is necessary when you submit a résumé. Unless otherwise instructed, a cover letter should accompany every résumé. A cover letter compels your reader to review your résumé.

Your résumé presents factual information about your qualifications, experience, and educational credentials. You use the résumé to present yourself as a good match for a position based on the content in a job posting. It is common for job seekers to use one résumé for several employment contacts. While this is a customary practice, a cover letter lets you personalize your résumé package for a specific job opportunity.

You no doubt have value-added skills that are above and beyond those listed as the fundamental job requirements. These skills can distinguish you from other candidates. A cover letter lets you present this information and add value to your marketability.

In creating your résumé package, your cover letter is an informative and even fun way to demonstrate that you can communicate in a clear and concise fashion. You do this with the words you use, the tone of the letter, and the visual presentation of the letter.

Although there are no set rules to creating cover letters, the following are some guidelines for introducing yourself in a letter:

Be brief – Cover letters are not essays. Use just one page to communicate who you are, what you can do for your potential employer, and why you are the best candidate for the position.

Be professional, yet personal – Avoid using the same tone and language you use in your résumé. Address your reader as if you were speaking to him or her in person. Your cover letter should compliment your résumé, not repeat it.

Tell who you are – Open the letter with a clear statement of who you are and what you do. Don’t make your reader search for that information in the body of the letter or worse have to figure it out from the content of the letter.

Maintain consistency – Use the same heading format on all documents within your résumé package (résumé, cover letter, references, follow-up letters, thank-you letters).

Highlight your value added skills – Spotlight your skills that do not appear in your résumé such as your work ethics, teamwork ability, and skills that are not listed as requirements for the job but are useful to the organization.

Explain why you want to work for the company – Do you like their product or service, their financial standing, their position in the industry, or their direction for the future? Companies like to know what captures your attention.

Proof, Proof, Proof – Make sure that your letter is clear, concise, and error free. Make a checklist that addresses grammar, punctuation, and words that are spelled correctly but out of context (form instead of from, you instead of your, etc.). Use this checklist for your own proof reading and have someone else read it if possible.

A cover letter can make the difference between getting an interview and getting passed over. Use a cover letter to help boost your chances of getting the job offer.

David Jensen holds a Master’s degree in Professional Communication. He is a Certified Professional Résumé Writer (CPRW) and a Certified Employment Interview Professional (CEIP). He has successfully prepared résumés for various professions, with specialties in résumés and cover letters for graduate school admission, Information Technology, Advertising, Public Relations, and entry level positions.Request David for your ResumeEdge.com product by keying in his last name only, no caps (jensen) in the 'request your editor' field of the ResumeEdge.com online form.

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Making it through a Behavioral Interview

by Tina Erickson, MA, ResumeEdge.com Editor and CPRW

Employers are increasingly making use of the “Behavioral Interview”. The theory behind this type of interview is “Past performance is the best indicator of future success.”

In behavior-based interviews, you will be asked to give specific examples of a time that you demonstrated particular behaviors or skills.

You will describe in detail a particular event, project, or experience; how you dealt with the situation, and ultimately, the outcome.

A Behavioral Interview question might look something like this:

Describe a time that you had to work with someone that didn’t like you. How did you handle it?


Tell me about the most difficult customer experience you had to deal with. How did you resolve the issue?

Both of these questions are trying to assess how you deal with conflict.

How to prepare for Behavioral Interview questions:

First, you will want to have an understanding of what competencies the employer is looking for, a good place to start is the job description, job posting, or a recruiter if you are working with one.

Some of the basic competencies that they may be looking for are:

► Innovation
► Delegation
► Flexibility
► Motivation
► Communication Skills
► Conflict Resolution
► Team Building

Next, you will want to spend some time thinking about how you demonstrated these competencies. For example, think about a specific situation, the action you took and finally the result. You should not only come up with stories about positive outcomes but situations that did not have a positive outcome, interviewers will want to know how you dealt with these situations as well.

Even if you aren’t facing a job interview, it is always a good idea to be prepared by keeping a list of competencies and accomplishments, if you write them down right after they happen you will be armed with detailed accounts the next time you interview.

Tina has had over 10 years of Human Resource Management experience in a Fortune 50 company where she led the National Pharmacy Recruiting Team and recruited Executive level candidates for various positions. She holds a Master of Art degree in Human Resource Management from WebsterUniversity. Request Tina for your ResumeEdge.com product by keying her last name only, no caps (erickson) in the 'request your editor' field of the ResumeEdge.com online form. http://www.resumeedge.com/