Last Stop: Resumes

We’ve saved the best for our last post on application processes – RESUMES! After you’ve submitted transcripts, LSAT scores, and your personal statement, your resume is where you showcase what you’re passionate about. Through your work experience, internships, student involvement, and volunteer experiences, we’re able to capture a better picture of you. Keep in mind, there are both good and bad ways of how to showcase this information; we’ve seen it all.

  1. The Includer: This is the resume that tells everything, and we mean EVERYTHING. Things you did in high school, every single award (academic and otherwise), academic courses, jobs, etc. A resume should be tailored to your application – that means some things (ie. high school activities) are better left off. Unless they are a significant achievement (national level awards, mega internships), make sure that the information you are providing is related to your application.
  2. The Minimalist: On the other side of the spectrum, these are the resumes without much at all. We understand that not every student has been super involved, had high level internships, or worked 40 hour weeks at 3 different jobs during college. But we do know that you’ve done something with your time while in college and after! How have you turned your passions into involvements, volunteerism, or jobs? These are all ways that we can learn more about you and how you might be a good fit for W&M Law!
  3. The Lister: It never fails that we get a resume with a simple list of involvements without any explanation as to how they are relevant. Please don’t be this person. Resumes should be organized by areas of commonality (jobs, volunteerism, organizations, etc.) and not by year in college. You should never rely on an admissions officer to do research into a particular business in which you’ve worked or organization in which you’ve been involved – make sure you outline your responsibilities in those positions!
  4. The Modest: Your resume is an opportunity to brag, and brag you should. One of our biggest pet peeves is receiving a resume with one line about job responsibilities or the level of involvement. Tell us about that organization and why you were interested in joining, even if your involvement was minimal! Additionally, there are multiple things that you can learn from every retail, food service, or delivery job you’ve had. Customer service, time management, problem solving skills, and critical thinking are all important components of graduate level study; don’t leave those out!
  5. The Graphic Designer: The average time a recruiter spends on reviewing a resume is between 15-30 seconds (in the business world it’s 6!). Make sure your resume is easy to read! This means that you should NOT use templates from Microsoft Word just because they look cool. You shouldn’t make admission officers hunt for information; it’s one of the quickest ways to ensure that your resume will not get a full review.

There are multiple resources available to you on how to better build your resume; for those coming straight from college or recently graduated, your university’s Career Center is the FIRST place you should start! The professionals there will help you build, tailor, and polish your resume to put your best self forward. And while it might not be the MOST important aspect of your application, it is still important. Don’t leave it to the last minute and expect stellar results!

Who You Gonna Call? Letters of Recommendation

We’re (just about) halfway through the Fall 2019 application cycle, and this week we’re talking about letters of recommendation!

After personal statements, this is the part of the application we get the most questions about. The reality is, it’s also the hardest part to advise on. You know the people who know you best, and those should be the people you ask for a recommendations. Professors, supervisors, mentors, academic advisors, the list goes on! But for the sake of consistency, here are answers to a few questions we get for navigating the process.

  1. How many letters of recommendation should I have? That all depends on the school you’re applying to, but most will ask for 2 at the least. Make sure you do your due diligence and research each school’s requirements! Some don’t require any, and some have very. specific. requirements. Don’t be that person who doesn’t do their research because you might miss out on an admission letter!
  2. Who should I ask? Someone who knows your academic background is a must. Law school is, after all, an academic environment; we want to know what you’re like in the classroom. Individuals who know you on a personal level are helpful to hear from as well. We also like to know that you’re not a serial killer. Both sides of the same coin (you’re the coin here…).
  3. When should I ask my recommendors for the letter? As soon as possible! Professors have a lot going on and likely many people asking for letters. The more time you can give them the better. If you can, provide them with a copy of your resume, maybe even your personal statement. This will help them to get caught up on what you’ve been doing and highlight your biggest achievements. The same goes for supervisors. And don’t be afraid to remind them of upcoming deadlines!

Most importantly, you need to really think about who to ask. Just because you did well in a class doesn’t mean that professor knows you well enough to give you a favorable recommendation. Depending on the size of the class, how long ago you took it, and your relationship with them, they may not even remember you. Goodness knows we’ve read some letters that were not favorable, and some that downright declined to recommend them for law school. So do your due diligence and really consider your options.