- On May 14, 2021
Professional executive resume writer Adrienne Tom’s “7 Secrets of Executive Resumes” apply directly to lawyers! Sometimes resume experts don’t understand the legal field and offer up inapplicable advice, like always list an objective or include all your technical skills/languages for a robot to parse. Instead, these seven tips are all high-level and high-impact, which is super important when you only have seconds to grab your reader’s attention and make a case for yourself:
- Tailor your resume to that position you are applying. Think about the company and what they want from candidates. Talk to people at the target company and review their website and job description so you can use their language. Show how you have relevant experience and skills to help them, e.g., that you have worked in that industry, have grown X products at Y% into Z countries, or that you solved ABC legal problem enabling XYZ result. Don’t make them work to guess whether you can solve their problems.
- Keep content relevant and concise. My GC clients ding candidates with lengthy resumes – the reasoning is if applicants aren’t concise with their resume, they aren’t good at communicating in general. And if they can’t figure out what is relevant to list in their resume, then they lack judgment as well.
- Show, don’t tell. I hate when people start their resume with “trusted business-savvy advisor.” Just say you advise the executive team and have helped your company scale X% in Y time (or whatever impressive metrics you have). Takes about the same amount of space and is much more meaningful and memorable.
- Be authentic and stand out. What is your competitive advantage/how do you differ from others? You need to identify it for yourself first and then work that into the resume. Don’t leave it up to the reader to suss out.
- Tell a story. A bunch of facts is not memorable. Instead, your resume should make clear how your path leads to this job. For example, you could have studied Biology in college, focused on IP in law school, trained in IP (or IP lit or tech trans) at a firm, then picked up privacy or M&A/IP diligence, won XYZ cases or launched ABC products (solved whatever legal problem), and now lead IP in-house with expertise in the ABC space. Your resume should present a clear narrative.
- Don’t be bland. Back up statements with percentages, examples, and facts. Use strong verbs. My pet peeve is when a lawyer “handled” something, which doesn’t tell me the exact role, the advice given, and the results achieved with all that handling.
- Start strong! I agree that you have readers’ attention when they start the resume. Don’t waste space up there with a huge list of personal information (just list your metro area, email and cell – don’t need a home address, bar number, USPTO number, CIPP certification, Twitter handle, etc.). If you are going to have an executive summary, populate it with statistics, not that you have general vision or business savvy.