Lessons from #LawJobChat: @AttysCounsel on Legal Resumes

On September 30, 2010, we hosted our fourth #LawJobChat, a chat on Twitter that takes place the last Thursday of each month from 9 – 10 pm Eastern. The hour flew by as Jessica Silverstein, our guest host, answered questions about legal resumes.

Participants raised questions about formatting, job descriptions, whether to put blog URLs or social media profiles on resumes, and tips on making one’s resume stand out.  I’ve pasted the full transcript below.

About Jessica

Jessica Silverstein (@AttysCounsel) owns Attorney’s Counsel, a career counseling service for attorneys that specializes in resumes and interviewing skills. She is also a Member of the Committee on Career Advancement and Management for the New York City Bar Association.  The best way to contact her is via e-mail: info at AttorneysCounselNY dot com.  She’s happy to answer any questions or to follow up with more information.

5 Takeaway Tweets

  • AttysCounsel: NO OBJECTIVES!Your objective is to get the job! Summary can be helpful for someone switching practice areas.Transferable skills!
  • AttysCounsel: Subheadings will enable you to get what you want the ‘er to see on top and in a more targeted way. OK to list firm/title/dates (See also:  AttysCounsel:  Ok to shorten or merge summer positions if they were similar. Same for contract work. Again, think subheadings)
  • AttysCounsel: [LinkedIn] can have more info than resume, but what is the same should be the same. Plus, 1pg isn’t the max in all cases
  • AttysCounsel: …Good to read out loud to hear where there’s an error. Read out loud anyway but tenses esp r hard to miss when listening (See also:  AttysCounsel:  …If you are PRESENTLY working, that is in PRESENT tense. Old jobs, those w/an end date, are PAST tense)
  • AttysCounsel: Best 3 [resumes]: No formatting errors. Clear stmnt of accomplishment, not just job description. Focus on target position.

I’d also recommend Amanda’s post that highlights the important points that Jessica covered.

#LawJobChat #5: October 28th, 9-10 pm Eastern

Before I paste the full transcript, I’ll remind everyone that #LawJobChat #5 will take place on October 28th, 9-10 pm Eastern.  We’re finalizing the topic and guest host for next time but we’re also open to your suggestions and requests.  You can leave a comment and/or send me an e-mail at melissa at recruiteresq dot com.

Full Transcript

#lawjobchat

wthashtag.com/lawjobchat

aellislegal: Welcome to the 4th #LawJobChat with @AttysCounsel! I know several participants have checked in – @pag2010 @brihoffman @t10nbaum #lawjobchat
DavidCohenEsq: @t10nbaum @aellislegal I’m on a train and will follow #lawjobchat on my @BlackBerry.
aellislegal: @AttysCounsel why don’t you tell us about your background and what you do now #lawjobchat
aellislegal: @DavidCohenEsq Great, David!! We talked about you at the tweetup tonight – all wonderful things!! #lawjobchat
AttysCounsel: Happy to be here! I am a lawyer. I practiced Holocaust Restitution and Prod Liab prior to escaping practice. #lawjobchat
t10nbaum: @DavidCohenEsq on a train? that’s #lawjobchat dedication.
AttysCounsel: I started Attorney’s Counsel after years of legal placement work and frequent speaking at the NYCBar on resumes #lawjobchat
AttysCounsel: Worked with lawyers all over the word and focus on legal resumes but have helped prof’s in finance, health care and biz dev too #lawjobchat
BriHoffman: #lawjobchat – question- had mock interview (w/ employer for critique) who suggested adding personal touch to resume. this common/desirable?
t10nbaum: I second @BriHoffman ‘s question. Interest line or no? #lawjobchat
AttysCounsel: Knew I didn’t want to practice so I also specialize in career transitions, other lawyers trying to decide what to do next. #lawjobchat
DavidCohenEsq: @aellislegal My ears were ringing for a reason. Sorry I missed it. Let me know when you will have one in SoCal! #lawjobchat
aellislegal: Let’s start with @pag2010‘s question re law student who had a non-legal summer job + clinic experience – how does he state this #lawjobchat
aellislegal: @attyscounsel feel free to answer @brihoffman‘s question first #lawjobchat
AttysCounsel: @aellislegal Clinic = legal exp and that should be listed with the rest of their LEGAL EXPERIENCE. Sub headings R gr8 #lawjobchat
AttysCounsel: Can always say Legal Experience, since that’s what they want to show, and Non-Legal or another designation… #lawjobchat
AttysCounsel: @BriHoffman “Interests” is always up for debate. Don’t waste space. Unless you r a ranked tennis player, we dont care. #lawjobchat
BriHoffman: #lawjobchat – the types of things the mock interviewer suggested were hobbies, interests, my “musical talent” (former jazz major), etc.
aellislegal: @AttysCounsel I think the student did some volunteer legal work, too – include under Legal? Include non-legal summer job or omit #lawjobchat
AttysCounsel: Re: Interests – If you r a recent grad and you need to differentiate yourself, or a 2L, ONLY incl things that r actually unique. #lawjobchat
AttysCounsel: @aellislegal Legal work, volunteer or otherwise, is legal experience. Unless they r trying to focus on volunteering keep legal #lawjobchat
pag2010: That’s correct, Amanda, she didn’t know how to state the volunteer wrk when she had a non legal main job #LawJobChat
BriHoffman: @AttysCounsel it has surprisingly come up in every (ok ok, all 3 of them, this market is bad) interviews i’ve had. #lawjobchat
AttysCounsel: @pag2010 Focus on what she wants the ‘er to know. She did legal work to keep those skills fresh and to have somethng on her rez #lawjobchat
j_lavalley: Belov’d denizens of Tweepville?I’ll B jumping in+out of #LawJobChat till 10pm; so, giving advance notice: potential hi-vol #Law tweeting! :D
aellislegal: @pag2010 I’ll defer to @attyscounsel but I think I’d be inclined to omit the non-legal summer work. I typically tell laterals #lawjobchat
aellislegal: @pag2010 that an “other professional experience” is required for non-legal prof jobs but sounds like this was just a PT job #lawjobchat
pag2010: Thank you, both #LawJobChat
AttysCounsel: @aellislegal Sorry if I’m not ans the Q. Yes, if she was doing simultaneous LEGAL work, not need to incl NON-legal #lawjobchat
aellislegal: We covered interests – a non-essential area – what about other non-essential areas like summary, obj. I usually advise against #lawjobchat
AttysCounsel: @BriHoffman At this point in your career, include interests, ESP if U R hearing from interviewers that you shld. Just BE UNIQUE. #lawjobchat
mjsq: @aellislegal @pag2010 @AttysCounsel, I’d include the non-legal job if she learned *marketable* skills… & if there was space. #lawjobchat
aellislegal: @AttysCounsel no, you are great!! I think I forgot to throw that part in until I re-read phil’s question #lawjobchat
pag2010: One more and it’s bed time for my son: Always looking for good action words 4 student research asst’ 4 prof who only did . . #LawJobChat
t10nbaum: #lawjobchat How do you choose which law jobs to leave on the resume if having them all makes it more than a page?
aellislegal: @mjsq good point re marketable skills in the non-legal job!! #lawjobchat
BriHoffman: @AttysCounsel they love the vocal jazz thing, one asked if i would sing a few bars… it was awkward… ;-) #lawjobchat
pag2010: . . a limited amount of research and not much writing. thanks #LawJobChat
jcasalmir: is eavesdropping on tonight’s #LawJobChat while her son are literally running under foot.
AttysCounsel: NO OBJECTIVES!Your objective is to get the job! Summary can be helpful for someone switching practice areas.Transferable skills! #lawjobchat
aellislegal: @jcasalmir welcome!! #lawjobchat
aellislegal: @j_lavalley welcome!! #lawjobchat
BriHoffman: i second this question from @pag2010 … buzz words for research assistant? #lawjobchat
AttysCounsel: @mjsq definitely! Marketable and Transferable Skills shld always be incl. BUT be clear what is what and from where. #lawjobchat
DavidCohenEsq: @aellislegal @AttysCounsel The skills one learns in some non legal jobs can be huge. Cross trained lawyers have a lot to offer! #lawjobchat
aellislegal: RT @brihoffman i second this question from @pag2010 … buzz words for research assistant? #lawjobchat
stone239: @jcasalmir @aellislegal @j_lavalley can I watch? #LawJobChat
aellislegal: good pt! RT @davidcohenesq The skills one learns in some non legal jobs can be huge. Cross trained lawyers have a lot to offer! #lawjobchat
j_lavalley: @aellislegal Thank you! Glad I could join in?& not least, b/c this is a topic of particular relevance to me at the moment! :D #LawJobChat
AttysCounsel: Think about what you were doing. What were you researching? use the words u used to describe what you did. #lawjobchat
yalechk: Hi all will be monitoring this while I am working, happy to offer my perspective as employer interviewer #lawjobchat
AttysCounsel: I tell clients to translate their legal skills into English. Then translate that into lang of the industry they r targeting #lawjobchat
aellislegal: @yalechk did u see last quest re which buzz words for law student to include for a research position description? Thoughts? #lawjobchat
jjlaustex: Worked 5yrs before law school. now part time and summer legal stuff is pushing everything off the resume, should I let them go? #lawjobchat
t10nbaum: #lawjobchat I asked this to @aellislegal b4, links to linkedin, facebook, twitter on the resume under contact info? Yes or no?
aellislegal: @t10nbaum My thoughts: Yes to LI, NO NO NO to Facebook (it’s personal) Twitter is a maybe depends on how using it #lawjobchat
AttysCounsel: @aellislegal Buzz words: Depends on the target position. Research in one industry is useful for diff reasons in another. #lawjobchat
j_lavalley: @AttysCounsel Agree 100% re Objective?OUT! Might as well put “Taxidermy” and “Discreet Polaroid photography” as “Interests”! ;P #LawJobChat
jcasalmir: per @DavidCohenEsq‘s point, non-legal responsibilities that demonstrate learning about business needs on your resume = good. #LawJobChat
aellislegal: @j_lavalley LOL!! #lawjobchat
DavidCohenEsq: @AttysCounsel Agree. Lawyer that can speak language of another profession can understand & explain across professional lines #lawjobchat
yalechk: I suggest being very specific about the questions you researched and what resources you used to research @aellislegal #lawjobchat
AttysCounsel: @aellislegal Not trying to duck Q, but if you aren’t specifically answrng job posting or job description buzz words may hurt. #lawjobchat
yalechk: bad description is “Research assistant to Professor X–research into civil procedure issues” @aellislegal #lawjobchat
AttysCounsel: @aellislegal I agree, NO FB, I also say no LI, and no Twitter. They’ll find it anyway but it does depend what you want to be. #lawjobchat
aellislegal: RT @jjlaustex Worked 5yrs bf law school. now PT, summer legal stuff is pushing everything off the resume, should I let them go? #lawjobchat
AttysCounsel: NYSBA just wrote opinion on social media and job searching. WATCH OUT! #lawjobchat
mjsq: @t10nbaum my take re: urls, ppl include in e-mail signatures & if you e-mail resume…. I don’t think they need to be on there #lawjobchat
aellislegal: @yalechk good example! #lawjobchat
BriHoffman: @yalechk @aellislegal – went slightly further, maybe one sentence “deeper” such as topics (distressed debt investment & bkrptcy) #lawjobchat
yalechk: Good=Researched class action certification and collective actions in California using Lexis, BNA, & decisions reported on PACER #lawjobchat
AttysCounsel: @aellislegal OK to shorten or merge summer positions if they were similar. Same for contract work. Again, think subheadings #lawjobchat
mjsq: @AttysCounsel could you tell us how we could find a link to that NYSBA opinion re: social media and/or link to more info? #lawjobchat
AttysCounsel: Subheadings will enable you to get what you want the ‘er to see on top and in a more targeted way. OK to list firm/title/dates #lawjobchat
AttysCounsel: @mjsq working on that…I’ll get it to you after the chat. #lawjobchat
aellislegal: @jjlaustex I think you def should keep your prior prof experience on there – esp if relevant to pract area you seek #lawjobchat
jcasalmir: @jjlaustex depends on the job. If it’s related to the practice job you want to be in or unique go ahead and include. #LawJobChat
AttysCounsel: @aellislegal Agreed. Do not remove relevant information! #lawjobchat
mjsq: awesome! RT @AttysCounsel @mjsq working on that…I’ll get it to you after the chat. #lawjobchat
jerry_levine: Oops. Just realized it was #lawjobchat day. And I’m writing an amicus brief for the DE Supreme Court. ;) I’ll read the replay later!
j_lavalley: #LawJobChat Possible buzz words 4 research: analyzed?compiled?condensed?digested?synthesized? #FTW?”designed & operationalized model study?”
aellislegal: Including blogs link on resume? similar topic to including LI so my take is yes b/c display of your writing, a skill of attys #lawjobchat
jcasalmir: @jjlaustex and all-have 2 apologize for my tweets not making sense. I’m trying to get a rowdy 9 year old to get ready for bed. #LawJobChat
jjlaustex: @jcasalmir #lawjobchat was an accountant; want to do tax law
aellislegal: LOVE! RT @j_lavalley Possible buzz words 4 research: analyzed?compiled?condensed?digested?synthesized? #lawjobchat
AttysCounsel: @j_lavalley All good options.It’s difficult bc you don’t want your resume to be a thesaurus:wrote/drafted/scribbled/threw on ppr #lawjobchat
AttysCounsel: @aellislegal You are the expert on social media and lawyers. Now I defer to you. Again tho, ONLY IF RELEVANT! #lawjobchat
jcasalmir: a big YES to including. Definitely! RT @jjlaustex #lawjobchat was an accountant; want to do tax law
aellislegal: @jjlaustex @jcasalmir Def sounds relevant!! Just make sure it’s in a separate section like “other professional experience” #lawjobchat
AttysCounsel: @aellislegal @jjlaustex @jcasalmir Sorry, I missed a tweet back there… #lawjobchat
aellislegal: @AttysCounsel I’ve seen blog links HELP get candidates hired – several times b/c firm wanted learn HOW to blog!! #lawjobchat
j_lavalley: @AttysCounsel :) GR8 point; agree 100%! (Agree too w/ @yalechk‘s excellent point re specificity?which applies across board, no?) #lawjobchat
jjlaustex: @aellislegal #lawjobchat so don’t use the word “researched” on your resume?
AttysCounsel: @aellislegal That’s a great success story. Like including vocal jazz on your interests… #lawjobchat
BriHoffman: i keep the internet out of my resume, i feel the employers are gonna find it if they want it anyways. #lawjobchat
yalechk: yes! the more specific the better! RT @j_lavalley: @AttysCounsel specificity?which applies across board, no?) #lawjobchat
aellislegal: Following up on when to remove positions – let’s discuss when laterals should remove summer clerkship/associate positions #lawjobchat
AttysCounsel: @j_lavalley Specificity, Relevancy, Consistency a few of my favorite things…CONSISTENCY, in case anyone missed that one… #lawjobchat
GamingCounsel: All cool kids want to be tax lawyers/accts when they grow up RT @jcasalmir RT @jjlaustex#lawjobchat was an accountant; want to do taxlaw
t10nbaum: #lawjobchat Yes, but you can put MORE stuff on linkedin, and still have the one page resume @brihoffman
yalechk: BIG yes. Husband is tax lawyer. Tax depts LOVE people w/accounting backgrounds RT @jcasalmir@jjlaustex #lawjobchat
yalechk: Yes, good points RT @aellislegal: LOVE! RT @j_lavalley Possible buzz words 4 research: analyzed?compiled?condensed?digested? #lawjobchat
aellislegal: @jjlaustex Phil’s question was about beefing up a research assistant position description, so what words in add’n to research #lawjobchat
AttysCounsel: @aellislegal Depends on #yrs out. But if there are at least 5-7 years of solid/relevant experience, consider removing #lawjobchat
AttysCounsel: @aellislegal If they still need the good firm names, list names/title/dates. otherwise, focus on new skills and future success. #lawjobchat
aellislegal: @jjlaustex Think you were referencing @pag2010‘s original tweet, let me know if was another tweet in the stream I overlooked #lawjobchat
DavidCohenEsq: True! “@t10nbaum: #lawjobchat Yes, but you can put MORE stuff on linkedin, and still have the one page resume @brihoffman
aellislegal: @AttysCounsel Agree re 5 yrs out #lawjobchat
mjsq: @AttysCounsel, speaking of descriptions, what verb tense should ppl use on resumes? #lawjobchat
t10nbaum: @attyscounsel #lawjobchat, what about law student who did legal work in college?
AttysCounsel: @DavidCohenEsq LI can have more info than resume, but what is the same should be the same. Plus, 1pg isn’t the max in all cases #lawjobchat
aellislegal: Let’s look at a lateral atty (litigator) who wants to transition in-house – anything specific for resume? #lawjobchat
AttysCounsel: @mjsq LOVE THIS Q! If you are PRESENTLY working, that is in PRESENT tense. Old jobs, those w/an end date, are PAST tense #lawjobchat
BriHoffman: i’ve got a hyper puppy… time for walk in this baltimore monsoon. i’ll read rest of chat later. thank you @attyscounsel et al.! #lawjobchat
aellislegal: Great question! RT @mjsq @AttysCounsel, speaking of descriptions, what verb tense should ppl use on resumes? #lawjobchat
j_lavalley: @aellislegal Blog posts=publications?even have a BB-cite format. So IMO why not include them? (But only “appropriate” subjects!) #LawJobChat
AttysCounsel: @mjsq Good to read out loud to hear where there’s an error. Read out loud anyway but tenses esp r hard to miss when listening #lawjobchat
Neil_Lemons: RT @aellislegal: Great question! RT @mjsq @AttysCounsel, speaking of descriptions, what verb tense should ppl use on resumes? #lawjobchat
aellislegal: @j_lavalley Great point re BB-cite format!! #lawjobchat
DavidCohenEsq: @yalechk @jcasalmir @jjlaustex If you have dual credentials, do continuing ed, keep both & showcase. It shows rounding. #lawjobchat
yalechk: http://bit.ly/cTHMvT RT @mjsq: @AttysCounsel NYSBA opinion re: social media and/or link to more info? #lawjobchat
AttysCounsel: @yalechk THANKS! #lawjobchat
mjsq: Big ups, thx! RT @yalechkhttp://bit.ly/cTHMvT RT @mjsq: @AttysCounsel NYSBA opinion re: social media &/or link to more info? #lawjobchat
jcasalmir: @aellislegal not a litigator myself, but indications of regular interface with client biz teams or executives = good #lawjobchat
DavidCohenEsq: @AttysCounsel Agree, but someone should have a good bit of experience before going to page 2. Thoughts? #lawjobchat
AttysCounsel: @jcasalmir 100% agree, beat me to “update” Anything showing client interaction, esp longer term. Also, clear focus on the indstr #lawjobchat
aellislegal: @jjlaustex (prior acct career) good ex when 1pg NOT max? RT @attyscounsel Plus, 1pg isn’t the max in all cases cc @davidcohenesq #lawjobchat
AttysCounsel: @DavidCohenEsq Yes, 2 pgs must be warranted. Not a recent grad w/a big font and no prior career. #lawjobchat
AttysCounsel: RT @aellislegal: @j_lavalley Great point re BB-cite format!! #lawjobchat
yalechk: We make fun of kids out of college with 2 page resumes (or gasp–3!) RT @AttysCounsel: @DavidCohenEsq #lawjobchat
aellislegal: Have u seen lawyers use video resumes or online resumes like visualCV? ? arose in panel last wk cc @worklawyer @lawyerstraining #lawjobchat
j2_whittington: wait – you guys are saying resumes should only be one pg?!? OK so what are the fundamentals that need to be on that one pg #lawjobchat
t10nbaum: RT @yalechk: We make fun of kids out of college with 2 page resumes (or gasp–3!) RT @AttysCounsel: @DavidCohenEsq #lawjobchat
AttysCounsel: @aellislegal I have seen them and I’m not a fan. I know things R changing but lots of lawyers still aren’t ready. #lawjobchat
AttysCounsel: @j2_whittington Traditionally resumes are only 1 pg, but if you have enough experience 2 pgs is OK. #lawjobchat
DavidCohenEsq: @yalechk @AttysCounsel I have seen them too. Size should be appropriate for education and experience. #lawjobchat
aellislegal: @AttysCounsel And, how do firms view them (video resumes, VisualCV)? @yalechk may have thoughts cc @worklawyer @lawyerstraining #lawjobchat
AttysCounsel: @aellislegal What was the opinion of the panel? Wonder also abt geographic location and firm size and practice area… #lawjobchat
jcasalmir: @aellislegal and @AttysCounsel should laterals list specific speaking engagements in their resumes or provide upon request? #lawjobchat
lancegodard: RT @yalechkhttp://bit.ly/cTHMvT RT @mjsq: @AttysCounsel NYSBA opinion re: social media #lawjobchat
yalechk: Never seen one, but do not expect it would go over well in BigLaw RT @aellislegal: @AttysCounselAnd, how do firms view them #lawjobchat
AttysCounsel: @jcasalmir Yes, list relevant speaking engagements on your resume, unless there are many in which case consider addendum #lawjobchat
GamingCounsel: @jcasalmir You’re doing great, by the way! #lawjobchat
mjsq: @jcasalmir, I think listing speaking engagements is smart. #lawjobchat imo, shows initiative, public speaking skills, expertise, etc.
aellislegal: @AttysCounsel no one had seen it – but thought potentially effective 2 show other skills (speaking skills if applying 4 lit pos) #lawjobchat
AttysCounsel: @aellislegal Making the ppl who “read” your resume life easier is a good goal. If they r used to video, then great, if not… #lawjobchat
squirrelpants: Does a well-designed resume help someone stand out or should you try to be conservative/all-business? #lawjobchat
AttysCounsel: @mjsq @aellislegal 100%. Speaking and Video clearly show additional skills not every other lawyer has. #lawjobchat
aellislegal: Final Q to wind down – think of 3 best resumes you’ve seen – what made them stand out? #lawjobchat
AttysCounsel: @squirrelpants Well-designed and conservative need not be exclusive. #lawjobchat
AttysCounsel: @aellislegal Best 3: No formatting errors. Clear stmnt of accomplishment, not just job description. Focus on target position. #lawjobchat
aellislegal: @AttysCounsel Awesome!! Thank you so much – I think this chat has been the most interactive – lots of participation!! #lawjobchat
mjsq: RT @AttysCounsel: Best 3 resumes: No formatting errors. Clear accomplishments not just job description.Focus on target position. #lawjobchat
aellislegal: Next #LawJobChat is Oct. 28 at 9pm Eastern! Let us know if you want to guest host a chat or have a topic you’d like discussed! #lawjobchat
AttysCounsel: Resumes are so personal, I am not surprised everyone has an opinion! It has been my pleasure! #lawjobchat
jcasalmir: resumes that provided a very specific picture of a person’s past work experiences jumped to the top of the pile. #lawjobchat
mjsq: @aellislegal, I agree. Great job, @AttysCounsel. Legal resumes = huge topic to tackle in 1 hr. You rocked it. #lawjobchat
aellislegal: If you missed any of tonight’s chat, I’ll post the transcript and summary either later tonight or tomorrow morning #lawjobchat
mjsq: For anyone who has further questions, what’s the best way to contact you @AttysCounsel? #LawJobChat
aellislegal: @mjsq @attyscounsel agree – we could have a part 2 on this topic! #lawjobchat
AttysCounsel: Count me in for part 2!!! I just wrote (then deleted) “is it wrong that I don’t want this to end?” #lawjobchat
medialawcounsel: @aellislegal specific accomplishments, e.g. “Negotiated 6 asset purchase agreements”–not just a recount of areas of proficency. #lawjobchat
jcasalmir: great job once again by @aellislegal @mjsq and @AttysCounsel and thank you for letting me hog some of the discussion! #lawjobchat
j_lavalley: #lawjobchat @AttysCounsel & @aellislegal: Thanx! On #citations?some cool stuff re “vendor-neutral” / “universal” formats: http://is.gd/fDjkq
AttysCounsel: @mjsq To contact me, please email me at Info@AttorneysCounselNY.com #lawjobchat
jcasalmir: also, they “told” me a great–and professional-story of that person’s life as a lawyer. #lawjobchat
aellislegal: Great point, Evan – QUANTIFY! RT @medialawcounsel specific accomplishments, e.g. “Negotiated 6 asset purchase agreements” #lawjobchat
econwriter5: RT @aellislegal: If you missed any of tonight’s chat, I’ll post the transcript and summary either later tonight or tomorrow morning #lawjobchat

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