Resumes are the most overrated job search tool, especially for lawyers.
For too many attorneys, sending out resumes has become synonymous with looking for a job or changing careers. This is unfortunate because, as a career coach for lawyers, I know that resumes have serious drawbacks, including:
- The most successful job changing techniques for lawyers are personal and specific. Resumes tend to be anonymous and generic.
- You will increase your success rate by focusing on what you can do in the future for select potential employers (or business partners). Resumes tend to be focused on the past.
- Employers want to talk to people who can help them solve problems or achieve goals that are important to the employer. Resumes, because they have a recognizable format, tend to create the impression that you want something –a job—rather than that you can contribute something of value to the employer.
These and are among the reason why resumes have a lousy track record. If you send form resumes to employers who don’t know you, congratulations! You have entered the direct mail business. And people in that business know that a 0.5% response rate is pretty common. In other words, don’t be surprised if you send out 200 resumes and get between zero and 3 interview requests. That’s par for the course.
There are situations where resumes can be appropriate. Legal recruiters often require candidates to use resumes. Likewise, large organizations may require you to submit a resume online. The best way to do that is to use your network to put you in touch with someone at the organization. Have that be your first point of contact. You may then be asked to go through the formality of submitting a resume online. But minimize situations where you are using a document that can be easily identified as a resume when first contacting a prospective employer.