First Impressions

First impressions are critically important in any interaction with anyone about anything, whether you are face-to-face, speaking on the telephone, emailing, tweeting, Facebooking or otherwise communicating in writing.  This is even more the case with respect to prospective employers and potential networking contacts. Studies consistently show that the impression you make in the first 60 seconds of contact with a prospective employer is what sticks…and sticks out.

Resumes are often the very first impression that a prospective employer sees of you. Naturally, you want your first impression to be the very best one possible because it sets the tone for everything else that follows.

Identifying Information

Your most important objective here needs to be getting the reader through this information without imprinting something negative.  If you don’t succeed at that, it is highly likely that the employer will fixate on that to the exclusion of the key information in your resume that you want him or her to notice, focus on and remember.

Avoidance Tactics

Don’t be cute. No nicknames. No witty email addresses. No over-the-top voicemail recording. “Cuteness” is a major hiring turn-off.

Don’t be gender-ambiguous. If your name does not clearly identify your gender, add “Mr.” or “Ms.”

Don’t be “incomplete.” Make it easy for the employer to contact you. Include your mailing address, phone numbers, and email address.

Don’t go overboard. One email address is enough. Omit social network addresses. If the employer wants to view your Facebook, Linkedin or Twitter pages, s/he will locate them without your help or ask you for permission to access them.

Don’t embarrass yourself or reveal too much. Employers increasingly look at social media websites to see what you have posted and what others post and say about you. Be discreet and professional about what you post about yourself. Be vigilant with respect to what others post on your social media pages and “cleanse” them frequently, to the extent possible.

Include Something Positive

While getting the employer through your identifying information without a glitch or hitch, there is something that you can add to it that can enhance your competitive advantage. If you have a credential (an interesting or relevant undergraduate major, advanced degree or certificate) in addition to your law degree that bolsters your candidacy, include it after your name and law degree, e.g., “Jane Doe, JD, LLM (Tax)” or “Jane Doe, JD, CPA,” for example.  You will earn immediate positive points for separating yourself from your competition using this device.