LAW SOCIETY OF UPPER CANADA EDUCATION SUPPORT SERVICES WRITING WINNING COVER LETTERS AND RESUME WORKSHOP 2003

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1 LAW SOCIETY OF UPPER CANADA EDUCATION SUPPORT SERVICES WRITING WINNING COVER LETTERS AND RESUME WORKSHOP 2003

2 WHAT YOU WILL LEARN Today is all about selling yourself Developing Resumes with Impact Resume Headings and Contents Why Resumes Fail Eye Catching Cover Letters Your Unique Selling Position

3 RESUME TIPS FOR IMPACT FACT: MOST INTERVIEWERS THOROUGHLY REVIEW A RESUME PRIOR TO THE INTERVIEW NOT!! MOST INTERVIEWERS SPEND AT MOST 40 SECONDS READING YOUR RESUME! FACT: MOST INTERVIEWERS LOOK AT THE RESUME FOR REASONS TO BRING YOU INTO THE INTERVIEW NOT!! MOST INTERVIEWERS READ A RESUME TO PICK UP REASONS TO SCREEN YOU OUT

4 FACT: ONCE YOU VE DONE YOUR RESUME, YOU DON T NEED TO UPDATE IT UNTIL YOUR NEXT JOB NOT!! THE RESUME IS A FLUID, EVER CHANGING DOCUMENT, GEARED TO MEET THE EMPLOYER S NEEDS FACT: THE MOST COMMON ERRORS ON RESUMES ARE TYPOGRAPHICAL NOT!! MOST COMMON MISTAKE MADE IN PREPARING RESUMES IS IN NOT INCLUDING DETAILED, SPECIFIC INFORMATION CONCERNING YOUR ACCOMPLISHMENTS

5 TARGETED RESUMES Easy to read Answer questions/objections quickly Highlights range of skills May want to highlight different skills depending on employer/type of job Bring out specific legal experience sooner not later

6 COMMON RESUME SUBJECT HEADINGS 1. OBJECTIVE 2. EDUCATION 3. AWARDS AND HONOURS 4. SPECIAL/RELEVANT SKILLS 5. WORK EXPERIENCE 6. EXTRA-CURRICULAR ACTIVITIES/ INTERESTS/COMMUNITY INVOLVEMENT 7. PROFESSIONAL AFFILIATION/ MEMBERSHIPS 8. PERSONAL DATA 9. PUBLICATIONS 10. CONFERENCE/ PROFESSIONAL DEVELOPMENT 11. REFERENCES

7 OBJECTIVE STATEMENT Personal Preference Most objective statements are poorly written: Seeking a position in a challenging law firm. A position that will provide an exposure to commercial law. If objective statements are utilized, the focus should be on what relevant skills/expertise YOU bring to the position: Seeking a position that will take advantage of experience in accounting, real estate and taxation. A position that will capitalize on analytical, oral and written communication and advocacy skills acquired during summer employment.

8 EDUCATION Put date of graduation versus years attended Add to this section any areas of specialization, unique course projects, serious academic papers or research Do not provide a list of all courses taken Not essential to list high school

9 AWARDS AND HONOURS Put up front; if on the second page, it may never get read Mention awards, scholarships or prizes which have relevance to the position you are seeking Don t be modest here - - it may be your only chance to convey these accomplishments If you don t have traditional awards and honours, use this section to highlight other distinguishing characteristics: Computer literacy Language skills Designations from other industries If doing so, may rename section as Special Skills, Designations or Technical Skills

10 WORK EXPERIENCE May want to divide experience into Law Related Experience and Other Professional Experience to highlight any legal positions If legal experience was of a volunteer nature, add the volunteer work and describe it in the same way as paid experience Work experience should always highlight accomplishments not describe job responsibilities No need to list every job - - ten year rule Consider implications of time gaps on resume Logical flow of events for reader

11 OTHER SECTIONS INTERESTS Limit to a few lines Provides the interviewer with subject matter for personal conversation Include community involvement Other names for this section: Community Involvement Profile Activities Extra-Curricular Activities Other Areas of Interest PERSONAL DATA Own discretion REFERENCES Obtain referees permission before using their name on your resume Do not use close friends/relatives as referees (some exceptions) Try to include both academic and work related referees, male and female Do not include in resume sent to law firms provide when requested

12 CHECKLIST FOR RESUME FORMAT 1. Make good use of space (extend margins or use blank space to insert skills that relate to work experience) 2. Utilize bullets, points, dashes, dots, squares or arrows for emphasis 3. Your name should appear larger than your address 4. Dates of employment/education should be in a consistent place 5. Provide space between job title, place and dates of employment and the statement of what the job involved 6. As between job title and place of employment, the order should be dictated by which is more prestigious 7. Avoid centering subject headings 8. Differentiate using upper and lower case, the bold function, and the underline function 9. Information can be ordered chronologically, by skill or a combination of the two

13 10. To highlight numerous publications, transactions or duties, consider decreasing the font size and indenting the information for emphasis 11. Repeat your name and phone number at the top or bottom of each page 12. Include your address (and ensure you check for regularly) 13. Number the pages of your resume 14. Use high quality paper and printer 15. A resume cover page is not necessary 16. A resume should ideally be one to two pages rule of thumb under ten years of experience it should be one page, over ten years, two pages

14 WHAT IS THE #1 REASON RESUMES FAIL TO ENTICE THE READER TO MEET YOU?

15 Here are some of the reasons that resumes fail to entice the reader: Difficult to follow chronologically Difficult to read text too small or not formatted well Include typographical and/or grammatical errors Paper quality and/or printing quality is poor Too long or too short Include a laundry list of job duties versus what the person was able to accomplish

16 ACCOMPLISHMENTS Your resume should be written in the form of accomplishments rather than responsibilities Demonstrate your ability to perform Simply it is: An on-the-job activity which actively involved you, gave you a sense of accomplishment and benefited your employer, clients or coworkers. Example: General Description: Accomplishment: Assisted lawyers in the management of personal injury claims Assisted lawyers in the management of personal injury claims, which involved interviewing clients and drafting pre-trial briefs

17 ACTION VERBS Your resume should be an active versus passive document Use of action verbs provides greater impact for the reader Use of action verbs keeps the resume from being to general Use of numbers adds emphasis to action verbs Ensure verbs used are the right tense Example: General: Specific: > Duties included researching, litigation support, and drafting documents > Researched and drafted eight memoranda of law dealing with various current -issues in the bankruptcy and insolvency field > Appeared on five motions on consent before various Masters and drafted all supporting affidavit material Drafted a variety of documents used in connection with the closing of a $250 million initial public offering

18 SAMPLES OF ACTION VERBS accelerated accomplished achieved acquired administered advised allocated analyzed appointed appraised approved assessed assisted attained audited broadened calculated centralized collaborated composed computed concluded conducted consolidated controlled counselled created decreased defined designed developed devised directed distributed documented doubled drafted edited effected eliminated employed enforced engineered established estimated evaluated exceeded expedited forecasted formed formulated generated guided headed identified implemented improved increased initiated interviewed introduced inspired instigated instructed innovated insured introduced invented investigated launched led liquidated located maintained managed marketed mediated minimized modified monitored negotiated obtained operated organized participated performed pioneered planned prepared presented prevented produced programmed promoted proved proposed provided published recommended recruited redesigned reduced regulated renegotiated reorganized represented reported researched resolved reviewed revised scheduled selected settled shaped simplified solved staffed standardized streamlined strengthened structured supervised supported surpassed surveyed taught tested trained translated tripled utilized vitalized wrote

19 FINAL CHECKLIST FOR EFFECTIVE RESUMES AVOID USING FIRST PERSON DO NOT INCLUDE PERSONAL INFORMATION UTILIZE BULLET POINTS FOR EASE OF READING PROOF, PROOF, AND RE-PROOF LOGICAL FLOW OF INFORMATION AVOID CROWDING RESUME PLACE MOST IMPORTANT INFORMATION UP FRONT BE READY TO DISCUSS EVERY ASPECT ON YOUR RESUME BE SPECIFIC ABOUT WHAT YOU MADE HAPPEN IN A SITUATION BE PROUD OF YOUR ACCOMPLISHMENTS ASK SOMEONE WHOSE OPINION YOU VALUE TO PROOF YOUR RESUME

20 EYE-CATCHING COVER LETTERS STANDARD FORMAT 1. Opening Paragraph states who you are, why you are writing, and may include the network contact who referred you 2. Second paragraph conveys a bit about your background and how it relates to the specific organization you are applying to 3. Third paragraph conveys your past experience and the skills you bring to the organization create bullet points for emphasis and ease of reading three accomplishments of yours that related to the position 4. Last paragraph re-affirms your interest in and fit with the organization and includes your follow-up steps and your contact information

21 BEYOND THE BASICS Cover letters can also be four and five paragraphs long but should be no more than one page Avoid telling the reader a love story Focus on the style to suit employer Observe which letter generates more phone calls or interviews

22 DEVELOP A UNIQUE SELLING PROPOSITION (U.S.P) Demonstrate in the letter how you can meet the employer s needs and solve problems Describe these points using verbs that signify clear, decisive action Use specific examples demonstrating your abilities Avoid generalization when describing your role in a project Describe your work in terms of a particular industry experience Don t be afraid to accomplishments from your resume and repeat them in your cover letter Proof, Proof, and Re-Proof - - Do not be embarrassed to confirm spelling of name Always revise letters not getting a response - ask for feedback Never use form letters Demonstrate that you have done your homework on the organization Make your letters skimmable: One major point per paragraph and use bullets to create impact General rule: make your point in sentence 1 or 2, the remainder of the paragraph provides the details

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