A resume is a factual document that presents your qualifications-your education and experience-to a potential employer. It's the first substantive contact between you and a potential employer, and it's the first piece of work that you produce for a potential employer. Its purpose is to get you an invitation to a job interview.

Effective resumes are those that communicate your qualifications in clean, short bursts of information. Employers often receive dozens of resumes; those with an uncluttered layout, highlighting, captions, and consistent formatting will receive more consideration than those that make the reader search for relevant information. We strongly recommend that you do not use one of the default resume templates included on your computer. These templates are intended for business resumes rather than legal ones, and they include complex layers of formatting that make them extremely difficult to update and/or adapt as necessary.

Effective resumes are:

  1. Readable. Print your resume in 11-point font, using black ink on white, off-white, or cream-colored paper; consider using bullets or asterisks; include adequate white space.
  2. Decipherable. Use a consistent layout (e.g., all employment entries headed by employer name, then employment dates, or vice versa) and consistent terminology (e.g., Juris Doctor and Bachelor of Arts or J.D. and B.A.).
  3. Succinct. Include only relevant information (i.e., why would this be important to this employer?).
  4. Flawless. Run spell check, then check for misspellings or grammatical errors, then check again the next day; re-read your resume starting from the last item and working toward your name and address; give your resume to someone else to proofread.

Skills Inventory

Review the Skills and Experience Inventory* and make a list of everything that might possibly be included on your resume. Use that list as a reference while you are drafting your resume and cover letter. You may include things in your cover letter that are not listed on your resume and vice versa, but the two documents should cover fairly similar territory.

Drafting your Resume

Your resume should be one page. If you have been out of school for ten years or more or you have very significant professional experience between college and law school, come talk to someone in CPD to determine if you should go over a page. We will help you decide whether two pages are necessary or where to cut unnecessary information.

Four sample resumes are included below. Consider that other students are using these samples as models as well.