The age-old question, “How long should my resume be?”
It’s a question that not only law students and junior attorneys ask, but senior attorneys as well. With over 20 years of legal recruiting experience, it’s one of the main questions I encounter time and again.
Does the ‘one-page rule’ still ring true?
The short answer, no. Sure, if all of your relevant experiences fit on one page, then why not keep it to one clean-looking page? For the vast majority of law students, one page will probably tell their whole story. However, by editing out interesting qualifications and experiences, you’re not benefiting either side of the table.
When you eliminate interesting stories and skills, you’re leaving the same experiences left that all the other candidates have. When faced with hundreds of indistinguishable resumes, employers are left frustrated because there are no unique standouts.
As long as your resume needs to be
According to Legal Recruiting Expert Shauna C. Bryce, who has more than 20 years in law and legal hiring and degrees from Harvard Law School and Johns Hopkins University, “your resume should be as long as it takes (and no longer) to tell your story to your audience for your particular purpose.”
If you’re an experienced, high-level lawyer with a long record of accomplishments, you may need a four, five, or even six-page resume to cover your sophisticated career histories. “If the resume or CV is a compelling read, then they will read it regardless of page length,” says Bryce. However, if a resume is filled with irrelevant information, then it likely won’t meet the needs of recruiters or hiring attorneys.
Avoid false and misleading information
Some studies suggest that up to 50% of the population has false or misleading information on their resumes. Hiring professionals know this, which is why it’s so important to avoid overblown or salesy language and concentrate on facts that you can defend in an interview. Legal recruiting professionals are looking for resumes that are:
● Easy-to-read and user friendly
● Organized with easy-to-find information
● Fact-based with proof
● Demonstrating your value
● Relevant to your employer
● Focused on helping the employer
Understanding your audience with structure, language, and an accurate depiction of your past experiences are key to providing an engaging and straightforward resume. Rather than using rules on resume length, focus on the content and purpose to achieve the results you’re looking for.