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Your goal in constructing your resume is to create an effective marketing tool. It should be a fluid document which changes as you earn degrees, gain professional experience and acquire new interests and career directions. Employers often spend less than a minute looking at each resume when they first receive it – so a well-organized, informative document is critical to your job search.

Below are general guidelines to help you create a visually powerful resume that best reflects your strengths and accomplishments and enables you to land job offers with your top choice public interest employers.

We also encourage you to view the OCS/OPIA Resume Workshop video.

After following these guidelines, current students, admitted LL.M.s, and alumni may submit their resumes, cover letters, fellowship application materials, and other application materials for review by an OPIA adviser (after October 15 for 1Ls).

  • Before You Start Your First Draft
    • Make a list all of your work experience since high school, including your extracurricular activities, hobbies and interests
    • Use these questions as a guide for drafting the descriptions of your experiences:
      • What were your primary responsibilities?
      • What specific examples can you give of your work (e.g., “Represented social security claimants denied disability benefits,” “Drafted legislative initiative to reform the Civil Rights Act of 1990,” “Analyzed $150,000 budget to identify cost-cutting initiatives”)?
      • What skills did you develop?
      • What tasks or projects did you undertake?
      • What accomplishments did you contribute to or complete yourself?
    • Think about which interests, work skills and experiences you want to emphasize for prospective public service employers
    • Review OPIA’s list of action verbs
    • For summer internships, review OPIA’s resume FAQs.
  • Length
    • Keep your resume to one page, except if you
      • have an extensive list of relevant publications
      • have five or more years of work experience prior to law school
      • are applying internationally
      • are applying for fellowships
        • Resumes used for fellowship applications should exceed one page and include any relevant information even if it dates back to high school.
  • Format & Layout
    • Review our section-by-section resume layout guidance.
    • Make your resume readable and scannable along the left hand margin
    • Tabs and margins must be consistent
    • Avoid using too many different fonts or sizes on your resume
    • Put the names of former and current employers in bold or small/all caps, so that a prospective employer can know from a glance where you have worked
    • NO TYPOS – check and re-check your resume before sending it out
  • Re-Write and Refine Your Resume
    • Plan to rewrite your resume many times during your legal education and your professional career
    • If necessary, create several versions of your resume tailored to the jobs you are applying to
    • Save an updated copy of your resume so you can easily access it when needed for job applications or networking opportunities
    • Make sure that when you update your resume, you are also using varied and appropriate action verbs