Your resume is a reflection of you and your experience. It is a marketing tool that introduces you to potential employers and helps obtain an interview. Your resume should be an accurate representation of your credentials, but try to emphasize information that makes you stand out from other applicants. Legal resumes are somewhat different from other resumes so use the sample format below as a guide, but feel free to add your own style preferences. Employers spend an average of 30 seconds reading each resume so limit your length to one page (two if absolutely necessary). Additional handouts on resumes and cover letters are available in the Office of Professional Development.
FAQ: Frequently Asked Questions
- Q. Should I use my legal name or can I use my initials or a nickname?
- A. You should use your legal name, but you can use a middle initial if you prefer. Nicknames are unacceptable.
- Q. Should I include a career objective?
- A. Inclusion of a career objective is generally not recommended as it may either result in limiting your opportunities or, if broadly phrased, may be so ambiguous that it becomes meaningless. It is best to use a cover letter when discussing specific career interests, in lieu of wasting precious space in your resume.
- Q. Should I include my GPA/class rank?
- A. Although this is optional information, we strongly encourage students to include their GPA on the resume.
- Q. What if my grades have improved each semester?
- A. Some students who have improved each semester have listed each semester's GPA to illustrate improvement.
- Q. My GPA is a C+, however, I have taken 12 hours of tax and gotten all A's. How can I indicate this?
- A. The cover letter is probably a better place to indicate this information.
- Q. Should I include my high school education?
- A. High school education is usually not included on the resume.
- Q. If I paid for my own education, should I state that on the resume?
- A. Yes.
- Q. I've had numerous part-time jobs before law school. Should I list them all?
- A. Non-law related jobs can be listed, but you should not go into detail. Law related jobs should include a statement of responsibilities.
- Q. I worked full time for five years between college and law school. Should I include that on my resume?
- A. It is important to give a complete description of full-time job responsibilities.
- Q. Before entering law school, I was at home caring for my young family for seven years. Should I indicate that?
- A. A resume should have no gaps in dates. You may want to include volunteer work and/or community activities you were involved with during this period of time.
- Q. Should I include any personal data?
- A. Personal data about your age, height, weight, marital status etc., or photographs are unnecessary. This information is not relevant to your application for a job and would take up space on a one-page resume that you probably cannot spare.
- Q. Should I list references rather than a statement such as "References Available Upon Request?"
- A. In general, references can be handled with the line "References will be furnished upon request." Since this has become such a standard line for resumes, it is generally expected that every job seeker will be able to provide references. You should be prepared at your interview to provide the names, addresses, and telephone numbers of at least three references.
- Q. Who should I include as references?
- A. The best references are people who can attest to the competency of your skills. Work superiors are usually the best. Professors in the area of your specialty are also good. Make certain that you ask the permission of a person before using him/her as a reference.
- Q. What length should a resume be?
- A. It is best to restrict your resume to one page in length since the reader may never reach page two. If you deem it necessary to extend your resume beyond one page, avoid putting any vital information on any page other than the first.
- Q. Should my resume be typeset and printed, or can I use duplicated copies?
- A. More and more students are having their resumes professionally done. That is up to the individual, but the result should have a professional appearance. Many commercial printers provide professional results at a reasonable price. The Printing and Duplicating Department of I.U.P.U.I. also provides a printing service at reasonable prices and has several locations on campus, as well as its main office at 1830 W. 16th Street.
Action Verbs to Enhance Your Resume