Five Tips for Creating a Marketable Legal Professional Resume

Sarah Pisani, Nelson Companies

Most people can agree that it is a difficult task creating a marketable resume. How does one decide what to include, or determine what to take out? How is it possible to get everything on one page? My best advice surrounds five great tips for creating a marketable resume that will ideally help you land your next job.

Tip #1: Keep it consistent.

Remember that a resume should be easy to read and consistent in your language, tense, font and format. Be sure to align the margins and keep your company, job title, office location, dates and bullet points/paragraph style consistent for each job. Sounds simple, but it is very important!

Tip #2: This is your first writing sample, make it good.

Rule of thumb, if you are currently employed in a position, that section should be in the present tense. If you are no longer in that position, it must be written in past tense. Legal professionals are judged by their writing, proofreading and grammar skills daily. One error on your resume will very likely cost you that job opportunity.

Tip #3: Include your software skills.

Every law firm and company want to see your technology skills. Everything from calendaring systems, document management/case management, time-keeping and even Microsoft Office Suite all matter. It is not just about your mere knowledge of them, but also your ability to learn something new. A comprehensive list of these skills prove your adaptability and just may allow you to call yourself “technology savvy.”

Tip #4: Use the appropriate buzz words.

As a legal professional there are words that are specific to your industry or area of law. Do not be afraid to use those on your resume. If you look at the job description and certain vernacular is used or particular acronyms – be sure to revise your resume and add those buzz words. That is of course as long as you have that skill.

Tip #5: Never tell a white lie or embellish your skills.

This is very important! If you do not have the skills, do not list them. This will surely be revealed as soon as you begin work. It is not ideal to stretch the truth on a resume because you will only hurt yourself in the end. And when it comes to your employment dates, make sure they are accurate. This is one area that can be verified. Many employers do employment verifications and it would be a shame to lose the position over an error or a stretching of the truth in order to avoid employment gaps.

There is no perfect resume, but there are resumes that will shine among others. The content of what you include in your resume has to be a summary of your skills and organized in reverse chronological order of your positions and most importantly error free!

My final tip is that your resume is a living and breathing document; always update the contents and keep it current. You never know when you will need it.

About the author:

Sarah Pisani is a member of the Executive Committee for the Paralegal Section of BASF and holds a BA from Sonoma State University in Criminology and Criminal Justice Studies as well as a Paralegal Certificate from Skyline College. She is currently the Staffing Manager for Nelson & Associates, specializing in the placements of legal professionals.  She can be reached at