Recently I met with a recent law school graduate who slid a copy of his resume and cover letter across the desk.
“What do you think?” he asked.
“Well,” I said, “You seem to have a good command of grammar. There are no obvious typos noticable at a moment’s glance. The format is plain and organized competently. Nothing fancy, but then you’re in a traditional field. But there’s definitely value that I can add…”
After I communicated the obvious problems, he admitted that he didn’t write it. He hired an online service specializing in attorney’s resumes, and he worked with somebody over the telephone. After getting it back, he sent it out in a mass mailing to every law firm he could think of, but without luck. Months later, he came in for a free consultation.
The documents were superficially competent, but deeply flawed. Nothing truly interesting stood out about his experiences in internships or prior experience. There was no unique “brand”. The whole document looked bland and generic and far less impressive than it should. Bullet points were strung together in polka-dot fashion without giving a clear sense of the organizations that he worked for, what role he played in the context of those organizations, or what made his contribution unique and valuable.
He spent somewhere between $30 and $300 for the service (the website he used gives a rather wide range of price quotes for law students and new lawyers, and I didn’t ask!), but it just might have cost him a pretty penny in wasted bond paper and postage and the emotional anguish of being unemployed for months. He might have lost thousands of dollars in salary as a newly hired attorney. Moreover, if he has already sent the documents out to hundreds of law firms, he’ll never get back the chance to make an outstanding first impression with hundreds of key legal recruiters and local hiring managers. What an expensive resume!