You know the numbers and the stats, the numerous applicants and the scarce jobs across the legal industry. There is competition, there always has been and there always will be many very qualified, educated, and eager individuals in line for precisely the position you are undoubtedly perfect for. As one of the masses, it is critical to stand out. However, it is evermore vital to stand out for the right reasons and not the wrong ones.

What are the wrong reasons?

Hiring experts, recruitment managers, and HR personnel see an incredible amount of resumes pass through their offices. In those resumes there is a vast diversity of experience, interests, and employment history. From the apparent dissimilitude, certain commonalities arise in regards to the most flagrant resume offences.

Committing any of these egregious transgressions can relocate your application from the top of the pile to the bottom of the recycling bin. Be sure to avoid the most common pitfalls of resume writing.

1. Small or Irregular Fonts

It is very tempting to downsize your font size to accommodate a greater amount of text in a small space. After all, you only have one or two pages to describe a lifetime’s worth of achievements, accolades, education, career choices, skills, and interests. Finding an obscure font that allows for a greater number of words to fit on one line, or submitting an application in 10 point or smaller may seem like a logical loophole. However, if the reader must strain to examine your application, he or she will likely just move on to next one.

2. Formatting Problems

Resume templates of word processing systems such as Microsoft Word are embedded with codes. These codes do not always play nice on different systems; this incompatibility may create unsightly formatting errors. Be careful of nonstandard formatting techniques, if no other format is specified submit your resume in a PDF, and never in the original word processing form (such as .doc, .docx, etc).

3. Not Following Instructions

Either in the job posting, on the website, or in personal correspondence, there will be instructions as to an acceptable and comprehensive job submission. The criteria may include various documents such as a cover letter, a professional vs an academic reference letter, graduate transcripts, specific formatting, etc. The easiest way to ensure your resume is not considered is to send an incomplete package. An incomplete package demonstrates a lack of attention to detail, an inability to follow instructions, and carelessness. None of which are positive traits any employer is looking for in a potential employee.

4. Nondescript Descriptions and Objectives

The language used in resumes should always be sharp, tight and concise. There is no room for broad and generic descriptions to portray one’s past work experience or future work objectives. A well-drafted employment objective demonstrates care, time, and thought has been taken and invested in the application. Furthermore, it expresses a genuine interest in the firm/company and the specific position.

The above are only some of the gross errors commonly made on resumes. Stay tuned for more tips and tricks in Resume Writing 101.