The “white space” in your paralegal resume is the equivalent of valuable real estate. That means not wasting space on anything that’s not going to get your foot in the door for an interview. A hiring manager is only going to spend about 30-60 seconds skimming your paralegal resume. In other words, the top of page 1 is like beachfront property, and the bottom of page 2 is swampland. Here are 4 things you can remove from your resume to make space for the more important information:
Everyone’s objective is to get the job they are submitting their resume for. No one ever gets a call for an interview because of a fabulously written objective. In fact, more times than not, the “objective” section could result in your resume getting tossed if you don’t revise it for every single submission. Instead, replace it with an eye-catching Summary of Key Qualifications that focuses on why you would be a great fit for the position. Consider using a few bullet points to make it easy for the potential employer to immediately make the decision to read the rest of your resume.
2. CIVIC/CHARITABLE ORGANIZATIONS
Unless you know for certain that the organization you are applying to supports, or better yet, is one of the same civic/charitable organizations that you are a member of, you should leave it off your resume. What you do in your non-work hours should not be a part of your paralegal resume because it is taking a chance that the person reading your resume doesn’t agree with that civic organization’s philosophy. Following the “valuable white space” rule means that you can use this space to further make the point that you are the best candidate for the position.
3. REFERENCES AVAILABLE UPON REQUEST
Even though putting this on your resume only takes up one line of space, it’s one unnecessary line. Potential employers will be doing a reference check when there is a job offer. And everyone knows, if you’re not willing to give them the names and phone numbers for your references, then you probably won’t get the job. Also, there is usually a place on the employment application to list your references. Again, more valuable white space for an extra bullet point showing your other skills.
4. PROFESSIONAL ORGANIZATIONS
Unless you have served in a leadership role of a professional organization, you should probably leave it off your resume if you need the white space. An employer isn’t going to call you for an interview as a result of you being a dues-paying member of a bunch of organizations. If you are a member, become active in a leadership role in your professional organization and then list it on your paralegal resume.
April 2020 Update: We hosted a free Resume Writing Workshop for paralegals who have been affected by the recent law firm layoffs. You can join our free Paralegal Job Search Series here. In this series, we’re starting with the paralegal resume and then holding sessions on drafting cover letters, getting a LinkedIn profile, and preparing for interviews.
If you are revising your paralegal resume to land a paralegal job, you might also consider some alternative paralegal career options, like the ones we wrote about in a previous blog article.
We did a quick video on resume tips that you might also want to watch.
About the Author
Ann Pearson is the Founder of the Paralegal Boot Camp, specializing in training for paralegals that focuses on the important paralegal skills not taught in certificate programs.
Ann started her paralegal career as a litigation paralegal and then was a manager of paralegals for many years prior to starting her own company in 2010. When she’s not working, you can usually find her somewhere near an ocean – either scuba diving, boating, cleaning up a beach, or volunteering to help save sea turtles.