How to Build Your Resume

The term "Curriculum vitae" loosely means, "this is my life". Make sure yours reflects your every
success and achievement in its best light by using the following tips:

Assess your marketability

A popular method used among US placement consultants to determine the "marketability" of a job
seeker is to calculate his PMV or Perceived Market Value. PMV is a function of academic and
professional accomplishments, taking into account the demand for the particular candidate's skills.

The formula devised for calculating PMV is as follows:
PMV = (A-t)+{(B+t) x C},

(where A is the value of your academic record, diminishing in importance over t (time since law school
graduation); B is the value of your law firm quality and training, increasing in importance over t; and
C is the current demand for your practice specialty.)

Often it is found that it is "C" ie the current market demand for your area of practice, that determines
whether your résumé is "hot property" or not.

In any case, the résumé should be drafted with an awareness of your PMV and a sensitivity to what
is compelling in your background.

Prepare customized résumés according to the job profile

Most of us tend to prepare a single standard draft of our résumé and use the same while applying
for all kinds of vacancies, be it an in house counsel in a corporate house, an associate in an IPR law
firm or a legal content provider in a dotcom company.

However, it is the written rule that when applying for highly competitive positions that draw upon
certain aspects of your background, you should think about what you have done that is relevant to
the particular position. If you are applying for a job with a software company highlight the number of
software licensing agreements you've drafted, the copyright issues you have handled etc. On the
other hand if it is a job with a venture capital company, give more emphasis to your venture capital
deals. This would mean altering your résumé slightly every time you submit he same for a particular
job. This would take only a few minutes, but would make a world of difference.

Highlight your Accomplishments not Responsibilities

Several jobseekers tend to desist from speaking about professional accomplishments for fear that it
makes them sound boastful or obnoxious. But you should remember that if you don't present your
accomplishments, no one else will.

A subtle way to do this is to emphasise your accomplishments instead of talking about your
responsibilities, for instance instead of stating that in your previous job you were merely responsible
for preparing agreements, you can state that you negotiated and drafted software support services
agreements fielding comments from the client initially and thereafter from his customer abroad.
Similarly, instead of stating that you were "responsible for criminal litigation", you may say you have
"cross-examined key prosecution witnesses in a murder trial that resulted in a directed verdict of
acquittal" for your client. When talking about your experience in a particular firm/organisation provide
a brief description of your responsibilities and thereafter use bullet points to describe your
accomplishments in greater detail.

Demonstrate your capabilities instead of just mentioning them

Some résumés simply enumerate the "abilities" and talk about the great "attitude and approach" of
the jobseeker, without really supporting these claims. These empty words are entirely superfluous
and tend to undermine the candidates credibility. For instance, most résumés contain a paragraph at
the beginning which purports to provide an introduction to the candidate. It usually sounds
something like: "A goal-oriented legal professional who brings entrepreneurial zeal and in depth
analysis to legal problems and comes up with business solutions. A team player who thrives on
challenge and problem solving. " These types of self-proclaimed personal assessments invariably
generate scepticism on the part of the reader and should definitely be avoided. The better approach
is to show the reader your unique value by reciting accomplishments that allow inferences consistent
with your analysis of PMV.

Determine résumé structure according to your career history

Most people structure their résumés according to chronology. If this method is adopted, it should be
remembered that the résumé should be written in reverse chronological order.

But what if you did not follow the traditional path because law was your second career? or you were
working for the government before you entered practice? In these circumstances you may need to
create categories to help the reader see the connection between seemingly disparate elements. To
take a hypothetical situation, you may have after completing law school worked as a government
employee in the Patents Department. After that you joined your present intellectual property firm
after three years of general practice. If you follow the chronological order in structuring your résumé,
the regular shift in focus in the nature of your work may seem confusing to your prospective
employer. You can resolve this problem by not following a strict chronological order but by
highlighting your specific experience under different categories or headings. For instance, you can
lead with a category called "Intellectual Property Experience‹Legal and Government" under which
you include your current law firm and your work at the Patents Office. Follow that category with
"General Legal Experience" under which you include your general practice firm. Thus by using
creatively defined categories you can effectively create themes in your résumé.

Experts feel a person should not structure his résumé according to liner chronology if he has
changed a number of jobs. This would give the visual impact that you are a perpetual job hopper
and would not be willing to settle down happily in one job. Therefore, as explained above, you would
need to reformat your résumé by creating theme categories that tie jobs together.

Create a résumé that is to the point

Your résumé should be succinct and focussed and excess verbiage and complicated explanations
should be avoided. Every sentence in the résumé should be there for a reason and therefore, before
adding a sentence ask yourself the purpose keeping the job profile in mind. Use action verbs to
preface accomplishments and always write in the third-person.

Avoid long sentences and stick to bullet points if possible. Prospective employers may not bother to
read a résumé if the text looks too dense or the choice of language requires effort.


Don't wasting critical space under your name with prominent display of address and phone number.
If an employer wants to find you, he can just as easily locate your address and phone (or email) at
the end of the résumé. The top the first page is the where the reader's eye naturally goes first and
that space should be used for providing information more relevant to what distinguishes you as a

Don't use a small font to compress your résumé into 2 or 3 pages. The better approach is to edit the
document so that you don't need to miniaturize the text. Use at least 11 point, preferably 12 point
type font.

Don't use fancy fonts like scripted fonts. It is better to use fonts that create a clean professional
appearance like Times New Roman or Book Antiqua.

Don't use bold typeface for standardized categories. Usually résumés highlights categories such as
"Education", "Professional Experience", and "Bar Admission" in bold while the names of universities,
law school, firms and corporations appear in standard type. On the other hand the bold typeface
should be used for name, school, company and position and anything else that is distinguishing
about you. This is because bold text initially captures the reader's attention and the reader will more
likely retain a visual imprint of what appears bolded on the page. There is no point wasting the
precious attention of the reader on standardized elements that are common to you and everyone

Don't put a photograph on your résumé as this can look tacky, and may make people take you less
seriously as a professional.

Don't neglect to take into account the method by which the résumé is going to be transmitted to the
reader and the visual impact of such transmission on the résumé. If you are sending the résumé by
email you should consider whether the document formatted in columns that will look like a jumbled
mess unless the receiver uses the same word processing program and version. Another thing about email is that the proliferation of viruses (and fears about viruses) have generated reluctance to open attachments received by third-parties. Therefore, in addition to attaching your résumé, you may want to cut and paste it into the email, thereby giving the receiver the option of reviewing the email or the attachment or both. If you are faxing your résumé, the fancy shaded text you have used may look illegible. Similarly, if you résumé is printed on certain types of paper, the fax will look blurred. One should remember that all of the effort that went into creating the perfect document is wasted if the document doesn't arrive intact and looking professional

Comments (6)

Rajindar Reddy
Said this on 5-21-2007 At 09:41 am
siva prakash
Said this on 8-17-2007 At 03:06 am
Said this on 12-3-2007 At 04:14 pm
Said this on 12-20-2007 At 09:04 pm
Said this on 2-7-2008 At 12:36 pm
Use ful for all
Ashwani Kumar
Said this on 7-15-2008 At 11:20 pm
My Qualification is Computer Hardware & Networking Engg,MCSE,CCNA.
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