Your resume is one of the most valuable documents you’ll ever draft as a paralegal—at least in terms of what it will do for your career. A paralegal’s resume needs to be many things: professional, concise, and informative. It also needs to be devoid of useless information that’s not going to help get your foot in the door of your next job.
Here are 5 things you should leave off your resume, along with what to include instead:
#1: An objective
Everyone’s objective is essentially the same: to get the job that they are submitting their resume for. For this reason, there is really no need to include an objective section, especially since it will likely have to be revised for every job you apply for. (Unless you want to run the risk of sending a generic-sounding resume that will likely get tossed).
You might be willing to take the time to write a unique objective for each job submittal. But, if not, use that space for a few bullet points describing your skills instead. This will allow your potential employer to easily scan your resume and decide whether or not you are a fit for the position.
Just don’t go overboard. A few bullets here and there can draw attention to important points, too many can have the same effect as long, dense blocks of text – cause a reader’s eyes to glaze over because nothing really stands out.
#2: Personal information
Many legal professionals include information on their resume that doesn’t need to be there. Things like “member of First Congregational Church,” and “married mother of two” are not only unnecessary, they fall into the category of TMI (too much information).
These phrases tell your potential employer things that they are not entitled to know and cannot legally ask, such as your age, religion, and marital status, all information that could give them the opportunity to discriminate against you.
Instead of personal information, include details that illustrate your readiness and capability to do the job you are applying for, using buzzwords like “achieved,” “resolved,” and “managed” in moderation.
#3: Your current business contact info
Even if you’re looking for another job while still working at your current one (most people are) don’t ever include your work email address or phone number on your resume. If you do, potential employers will contact you at work, where your phone calls and emails could be monitored.
Besides putting you in danger of losing your current job, using your current business contact information on your resume also gives the impression that you’re looking for another job while you’re at work. The inference that you’re using company time to job hunt could prompt potential employers to question your loyalty and wonder if you’ll do the same thing to them if they hire you.
A better option would be to include your personal yet professional email address, avoiding “creative” ones like email@example.com and firstname.lastname@example.org for obvious reasons.
#4: Irrelevant work experience or education
Past work experience should be used to illustrate experience, abilities, and skills that are actually relevant or applicable to the position you are applying for.
Anything that demonstrates your commitment to the legal industry and the position you are applying for (such as a real estate license or your experience as a CASA volunteer) should be included. Transferrable skills should be included on your resume if they show additional skills that will translate well into the position you are applying for.
But irrelevant work experience or education – summer jobs while in high school or college internships outside the legal industry – can not only clutter up a paralegal resume but also create confusion about your marketable skills and what your career ambitions actually are.
#5: References available upon request
Even though this statement takes up only one line on a resume, “references available upon request” is wasted space nonetheless, since potential employers routinely do a reference check once a job offer is made, and they’ll ask for your references at that time.
This line could even give the impression that you aren’t all that willing to provide the contact information for your references or you haven’t even asked them for a reference, which might derail your chances of getting a job offer.
Either way, this space would be better used for one extra bullet describing another skill. Just don’t make it a mundane task that every paralegal performs, which is akin to a receptionist including “answering the phone” on their resume.
Do you know of other things that should be included or left off a paralegal resume? Tell us about them in the comments!