Monday, September 19, 2005

Single page view

I was speaking with a friend and law colleague last week who'd taken a look at my resume and had some suggestions. She had many suggestions, actually.

One of her most striking comments was that I could be more detailed in explaining my skills, writings, and work experience by (dramatic pause) making my resume two pages. Two pages? While it makes some sense, I'm still trying to wrap my mind around the idea. (Any lawyers out there make the jump to two pages? Write in and let me know what made you decide to brave the staple.)

Sometimes a multi-page resume is entirely appropriate. My experience in composing resumes started 14 years ago, when I helped design and edit what would become my father's final resume, before he started a business and later retired. That resume was two full pages describing his 30-plus years of engineering work. Using 11x17 parchment paper, we printed a title page on half of one side and the resume content on the other side, creating a professional-looking document when folded.

Doctors compose a curriculum vitae that would include lectures delivered, conferences attended, and research conducted. There's no stigma of length when it comes to a physician's CV, so someone my age might already have one around 5 pages.

But I'm a newly licensed lawyer, and one with limited experience. I'm 31, but you can subtract about 7 years of limbo from that number. I have one professional degree and speak only English well. I haven't been on the career fast track since 1997. It's hard to break the single page view when I feel like I haven't done enough.

But what the hell.


The Attractive Nuisance said...

My Career Services office strongly warned against the dangers of the multi-page resume. Try going to 11-point font.

Neel Mehta said...

That's another thing. My resume is already in 12 (for headings) and 10 point (for text) Times. This colleague also suggested enlarging the font to 12/11 or 13/12. I'm telling you, these suggestions blew my mind.

Lawmummy said...

Don't make the switch. At two of the firms where I used to work, I was instrumental in the hiring. I felt (as did my colleagues) that two page resumes were too showy - unless you're the Former Chief Justice and you actually have a lot of relevant things to say. Not to be patronizing, but no matter how cool you are, I will tell you that I would look at a multipage resume for a 31 year old (and I am close to your age) for about 2 seconds and toss it in the bin. I would venture to say that I am not alone.

I hire now for my own firm (we started four years ago, now 4 attorneys and 2 of counsel) and I get lots of resumes. I look for those who stand out. And long resumes do stand out - in a bad way.

My advice? Retool your cover letter. If you really have a lot to offer, that's your opportunity to shine. I landed my first "big firm" interview based solely on my cover letter (I lacked experience at that point) and it taught me a huge lesson.

My two cents.

maisnon said...

I say try it - have two resumes. I was in IT before I went to law school, and I had a 2 page resume b/c I knew that when I applied for a job, my resume was scanned into a database that was later searched for key words, languages, etc. Why not put it all in there?

In law school, I had two resumes. A one pager - sort of the highlights, with all the techie stuff abstracted out, and a two-pager (my "IP" resume) that had a little more detail on some of the tech stuff I had done. That worked well for me.

My career development dept. suggested customizing your resume for every firm/position, which I think is crazy talk. I think using your 2 page resume to write a kick-ass cover letter (like the lawmummy suggested) sounds more do-able.

bdure said...

It depends on how much you have to explain. I'm an editor who has frequently been placed in charge of massive projects. When you're an editor on the Web, no two jobs are quite the same. So I'm going to need some creativity the next time I give mine an overhaul. (Fortunately, we can put our resumes on the Web and do creative linking to flesh things out.)

For a lawyer? Probably not. If you want to focus on what you're written, then zip through the work history and give a nice list of your writings.

Mainline Mom said...

I guess I lost the nice long comment I wrote about this. I don't know what it's like for lawyers, but I just switched to a 2-pager a couple years ago and it has done well for me. I'm in sales and I needed something a little more detailed. I also do a fair amount of hiring and I can handle a 2-pager just fine as long as it's good strong, relevant stuff. I have to have 2 pages to list my publications.

iamthatdude said...

Hi, it all depends on what would click with the person who reads it and it can never be standardised. So stick with your gut feeling. Most of the time it will work.
PS: I too am a law graduate from another country. Check out my blog at