This fall we offered some basic advice regarding how to start working on one’s resume for the law school admissions process. Today we want to offer some general tips for applicants on getting the most mileage out of their resumes, since it’s a powerful little document that forces applicants to distill their candidacy into a single page that focuses on key themes. With that in mind, here are a few simple tips to get you started:
1) First things first. You can lead with either your Education or Work section—depending on which aspect of your candidacy is more relevant. For example, if you are a senior in college, your academic experience is a better indicator of your abilities rather than part-time internships, whereas if you have been working for four years, this professional experience better displays your current potential than your academic history. Assess whether your work or education section is a more accurate reflection of your candidacy and choose the section that will be a more impressive introduction to your abilities. Given the academic nature of law school and the general youth of the applicant pool, most applicants are likely to lead with the education section.
2) Keep it simple. While you’ll certainly want to describe your educational achievements, as well as your professional responsibilities and accomplishments, if applicable, remember that this document needs to fit on a single page. Rather than overwhelming the reader with information, try to identify three or four discrete accomplishments or activities from your educational experience. Similarly, you should choose a few projects to complement a few concise statements about your day to day responsibilities in each of your professional positions. Remember that it’s also important to be as specific as possible about the impact you’ve had on the various organizations with which you have been involved by quantifying the results of your efforts.
3) Round it out. Don’t discount the importance of your interests and outside activities. Schools like applicants who are well-rounded and demonstrate a track record of involvement outside of work and the classroom, so formal extracurricular activities are a logical category to include. At the same time, information about your less structured information and hobbies is also relevant, as these details can lend color to your candidacy and help the adcom get to know you better. Remember to be as specific as possible; many law school applicants are interested in “travel” or “film,” so specifying a region you especially enjoy visiting or your favorite movie genre will be the key to setting yourself apart.
We hope that these general guidelines serve as a good starting point for applicants in translating their experiences and achievements into this brief but important document.