Don’t Believe the Hype: Paper Resumes Aren’t Dead

Although there’s talk of the resume being dead, it’s not.

LinkedIn and social media are great for building your professional networks, for leadership, for allowing others to find you and verify you are you who claim to be, for demonstrating technical skills, and for being accessible to recruiters as well as potential business partners, strategic allies, and clients or customers. However, the formal resume is still a critical part of the hiring process, whether you find opportunities on your own or whether opportunities find you.

This is particularly true in the legal field, which tends to lag behind other industries when it comes to technological advances and tends to be generally conservative about the hiring process. So while many large companies and law firms have online submission processes (which may allow you to forgo a formal resume), many small or simply less wealthy employers still hire new employees via paper and the U.S. Postal Service.

Additionally, while mid-level and senior level attorneys may be targets of recruiters who are willing to search for the right candidate, most employers will not pay recruiters to find entry-level attorneys. Entry-level lawyers must be prepared submit their resumes and applications on their own.

Once you’ve invested in putting together a stellar resume (whether by yourself or with the help of a professional resume writer), don’t skimp at the last step—printing and mailing that resume. Print your resume on high quality paper using a high quality printer. Use white, off-white, gray, or beige stationery.

For law firms and legal departments, do not use stationery with imprinted fibertone (for example, flecked or speckled); these papers are much better reserved for creative professions or other uses. If you are using paper that contains a watermark, make sure that the paper is loaded into the printer so that the watermark will be positioned correctly (i.e., legible from the printed side of the paper) on the printed documents.

Never mail your resume without a personally branded cover letter (printed on the same office stationery you used for your resume) containing a clear subject line with the job title your interested in, a compelling description of what value and skills you offer, and other critical information.

As a final touch, mail your resume in matching letter-sized envelope, in a brown 9 x 12-sized envelope, or even by overnight mail.

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