University of Pittsburgh

Pitt Law Works: Volume 4 Issue 15 - February 25, 2010

Spring Cleaning for your Résumé

When it comes to your résumé, frills distract the reader from grasping your main message: your qualifications. Appearance is important -- your résumé should be neat and professional -- but remember the content is the real star.

Let your experience shine through. 
Emphasize content, not packaging.  If the reader must wade through many colors, eye-catching graphics or text treatments, your message will get lost.

Start with a clean canvas. 
Use a nondescript backdrop so your words leap off the page and stick in the interviewer's mind.  White or cream paper provides the most contrast when used with black type. Avoid colors, backgrounds and shading.

Smooth over the bumps.
For printed résumés, generally, plain paper is best. Lightly textured paper is OK, but be careful. As with paper colors, textures can vie with your text for your reader's attention. If the texture's grain is too pronounced, your type will not appear clear or sharp, which may make reading difficult.

Stick to the basics.
Simple typefaces work best. Don't make your interviewer fight through a sea of swirls, colors and text treatments. Basic typefaces such as Arial, Times New Roman or Verdana work best.  Pick one or two fonts and stick with them. Using too many typefaces on one page can look confusing and will detract from your message.

Color your world -- but not your résumé.
Standard black type is best. It provides the best contrast, making it easy to read. How colorful your resume is will not be the deciding factor on whether or not you are called in for an interview. It's your experience that counts. 

Size matters.
Generally, your name should be no larger than 18 points and headings should be no larger than 14 points and bolded. Body copy can range from 10 to 12 points, depending on how much room you have on a page to fit your information. Be mindful, however, that the smaller the typeface, the more difficult to read.

Be concise. 
Interviewers often have hundreds of résumés to weed through. Use your cover letter to explain why your experience makes you a great candidate.  Keep your résumé to one page.

Think electronic. 
Your résumé will often be viewed electronically. Keep it in a format that is compatible with most word-processing and e-mail systems. Even consider plain text. You may be required to paste in your résumé into an electronic form or e-mail. Complicated formatting or unusual fonts can create electronic gobbledygook. 

Remember the goal of your résumé is readability. When deciding what features to use, ask yourself: "Will this make my résumé easier to read?" If not, don't use it. If it can't be read easily, it won't be read at all.

Find a Job Using Cold Calling

Does the thought of approaching a prospective employer through an uninvited cover letter make you break out in a cold sweat? If so, you're not alone. Today's job seekers are reluctant to use this old-fashioned approach to job hunting. But this method of reaching potential employers could open doors for you that you never thought possible. Here's how:

DO make a list of organizations that you would like to work for. In addition to listing those employers you find on the CSO website, check out magazines and newspaper articles about the legal field. 

DON'T be concerned if your list is long. The more people you speak with, the better your chances of success. 

DO write a cover letter to the prospective employer and attach your résumé. Cover letters must be personalized for the organization to which it is being sent. Sending a cover letter -- and mentioning it during your follow up phone call -- establishes a connection between yourself and the hiring manager. 

DO find a connection. Whenever possible, use your cover letter to mention someone you know at the organization. If you don't know anyone, take a step back:  before you apply, try to find someone at the organization with whom you could conduct an informational interview.  Through this kind of networking, you will learn about the organization and possible opportunities. Turn this information into your personal connection by mentioning that you "recently introduced yourself to (name) and he/she suggested I reach out to you."

DO wait one week after mailing your letters before making follow up calls. This will give you plenty of time to finish any last minute research on the organization.  Peruse Web sites, read press releases for important news, and learn about the organization’s culture in their career section.

DON'T forget to practice your follow-up script many times before placing your first call. You certainly don't want your call to sound phony or, worse yet, like you're reading from a script. Practice it until you are comfortable delivering it. 

DON'T be shy. Muster every bit of self confidence you have before you dial the phone. Be persistent and friendly. Let the hiring manager know that they have made a good decision by taking a few minutes to talk to you.

DO end your call with a statement such as, "When can I come in for an interview?" Professional sales people call this "assuming the sale." It's a highly effective technique that they use all the time. If you prefer to “soft sell,” ask “Is it possible to set aside a time next week for an interview?”

DON'T get discouraged. Expect rejection. Not every resume will result in an interview. According to experts, only one in four follow up calls will end successfully. But, it only takes one successful call to land the interview that results in a job offer.

Website of the Week

NALP Online Apartment Exchange:

The apartment exchange is a forum for students seeking to sublet an apartment for the summer months.  This is a particularly helpful resource if you will be working in another city this summer and you need housing.  It can also be useful if you want to sublet the apartment you have in Pittsburgh. 

Upcoming Events

Job Search Workshop: Creating Your Action Plan

Focus:  Public Interest/Government
Tuesday, March 2, 1:00-1:45pm, Room 113

If you are feeling frustrated and your job search needs some energy and direction, then this workshop is for you.  This hands-on workshop will take you through the process of developing a Job Search Action Plan. This session is designed for students who are searching for summer or post-graduate employment/externships with public interest and government organizations.    If you would like to attend this workshop please RSVP to Mary Thinium   ASAP with your name and class year.  Because this is a hands-on workshop students should bring their laptops to this program.

RSVP—Philadelphia Area Networking Opportunity

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

All Students are invited to attend a great networking opportunity with Pitt Law alums and to meet and share their experiences with prospective Pitt Law students.  If you are going to be in Philadelphia during spring break, please mark your calendars for the upcoming University of Pittsburgh School of Law Alumni Reception in Philadelphia.  The event will be held on Wednesday, March 10, 2010 starting at 5:30pm at the Pyramid Club (1735 Market Street 52nd Floor).  RSVP to the Pitt Law Alumni Office by Friday, March 5th at or phone 412-648-1305.  We look forward to seeing you in Philadelphia!

"Distinguishing Yourself" Through International Law Opportunities

Tuesday, March 16, 1-2:30 pm, Room 113

Find out more about Private International Law, What International Lawyers Do & Career Opportunities In International Law both in the U.S. and abroad from Professor Matthew J. Wilson, an experienced international attorney who: 

  • Has spoken about careers in international law at nearly 100 U.S. law schools
  • Has practiced private international law in the United States, Japan, and the Northern Mariana Islands.
  • Can give you insight into the fascinating practice of an "international" attorney.
  • Currently teaches international law courses at the University of Wyoming, College of Law, and previously served as Senior Associate Dean and General Counsel of Temple University's Japan Campus, where he

also taught international law and oversaw Temple U. School of Law's spring semester abroad program.

  • Will provide you with tips on getting involved in transnational and international legal matters during your law school career.
  • Offers ideas and insight into finding conventional and unique career opportunities involving international law, particularly in a tough economy.
  • Provides examples of how to effectively use study abroad programs and overseas experiences.

Alternative Careers:  Getting to "There" (RSVP Required)

Thursday, March 18, 12:00-2:00pm, Room 111

Susan Gainen, principal of Pass the Baton, LLC and former Career Services professional at the University of Minnesota (17 years), has been writing, speaking and counseling students and alumni about Alternative Careers since 1992.  Her Program Getting to "There" will help participants to:

  • Distinguish among traditional, non-traditional and alternative career paths.
  • Learn the roadblocks for lawyers seeking alternative careers.
  • Learn strategies and tactics for alternative career searches.
  • Understand why a "legal" resume won't work.
  • Learn how legal skills and experience transfer to other settings.
  • Understand the competition.

This will be a two part program.  Following the presentation by Susan Gainen, attorneys who have chosen to pursue alternative career paths will present a panel discussion on their experiences in  a wide range of industries.  A list of panelists will be available closer to the date.  If you would like to attend please RSVP to Danielle Schoch  with your name and class year ASAP but no later than Tuesday, March 16th.   If a conflict prevents you from attending the entire program students are welcome to attend a portion.  Food will be served.

2L & 3L Small/Midsize Firm Networking Event

Wednesday, March 24th, 6-8pm, Alcoa Room

This event will be an opportunity for 2L and 3L students to network and talk with local practitioners about small/midsize firm practice. Students will have the opportunity to speak with several attorneys throughout the evening and have their questions answered. This is an excellent opportunity for students interested in working in a small or midsize firm environment to network and gain information on what these firms are looking for in associates and what it is like to work as an attorney in such firms.

Registration to attend the roundtable event will begin after Spring Break and will be announced via email. Space is limited, so we encourage you to sign-up early for this special program! All students who register are committing to attend and stay for the entire 2-hour program. Dress is business attire.

For a listing of CSO programs please go to

Out and Equal in the Workplace: Sexual Orientation Discrimination

Thursday, March 18, 2010 - 6:00 pm - 7:30 pm
Alcoa Room

This event is Free and Open to the Public. Due to limited seating, preregistration is requested. Please register here:


M.V. Lee Badgett -- Director, Center for Public Policy and Administration and Professor of Economics, University of Massachusetts Amherst; Research Director, Williams Institute on Sexual Orientation Law and Public Policy, UCLA School of Law.

M.V. Lee Badgett studies family policy issues and labor market discrimination based on sexual orientation, race, and gender. Her latest book, When Gay People Get Married: What Happens When Societies Legalize Same-Sex Marriage (NYU Press, 2009), focuses on U.S. and European experiences with marriage equality for gay couples. Her first book, Money, Myths, and Change: The Economic Lives of Lesbians and Gay Men (University of Chicago Press, 2001), presented her groundbreaking work debunking the myth of gay affluence.

Badgett’s policy-related work includes testifying as an expert witness in legislative matters and litigation, analyzing public policies, consulting with regulatory bodies, briefing policymakers, writing op-ed pieces, speaking with journalists, and advising businesses.

Badgett received a PhD in economics from the University of California, Berkeley in 1990, and earned a BA in economics at the University of Chicago in 1982.

Panel Discussion

Following Badgett’s lecture, a panel will join her to discuss current legal developments, proposed legislation, and human resources initiatives.


  • Anthony C. Infanti, Professor, University of Pittsburgh School of Law


  • Susan Frietsche, Senior Staff Attorney, Women’s Law Project
  • Dan Frankel, Legislator, Pennsylvania House of Representatives
  • Gerald T. Hathaway (JD ’79), Shareholder, Littler Mendelson PC

The Yale Club of Pittsburgh, in conjunction with The Allegheny HYP Club, Presents:

"Lunch with the Judges"

Please join us for lunch and conversation with four judges with ties to Western Pennsylvania and Yale.

Hon. William L. Standish, United States District Court for the Western District of Pennsylvania
Hon. Gene Strassburger, Court of Common Pleas of Allegheny County
Hon. David N. Wecht, Court of Common Pleas of Allegheny County
Hon. R. Stanton Wettick Jr., Court of Common Pleas of Allegheny County

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

12:00 p.m. - 1:30 p.m.

The Allegheny HYP Club
619 William Penn Place
Downtown Pittsburgh

Lunch will be served ($25.00; $20.00 for Allegheny HYP members).

Please RSVP to Lauren Williams at  or call (412) 281-5858

Out & Proud In-House Counsel Reception

Thursday, March 25, 2010, 6:00–8:00 PM, Renaissance Hollywood Hotel
1755 North Highland Avenue, Los Angeles, California

honoring Frank Smith, Executive Vice President, Business & Legal Affairs, Walden Media

Attorney Smith manages the legal department overseeing day-to-day business affairs, and is responsible for large budget motion picture franchise projects, co-production with major studios, and structuring foreign corporations among many other responsibilities. Mr. Smith is an “Out & Proud” advocate for the LGBT legal profession and community serving on the board of Los Angeles Gay & Lesbian Lawyers Association and is a leader in the Gay, Lesbian and Straight Education Network (“GLSEN”).

This is a ticketed event. All LGBT and straight allied corporate counsel are welcome to attend as guests of the National LGBT Bar Association.  For tickets, please contact Kelly Simon at (202) 637-7661 or

DRI Sharing Success Seminar for Women Lawyers

DRI is the international membership organization of all lawyers involved in the defense of civil litigation. The DRI Sharing Success Seminar for Women Lawyers will take place in Scottsdale, Arizona, on March 25 and 26, 2010. The seminar is targeted towards women litigators who want to refine their trial skills; in-house counsel looking to enhance their own talents and improve the performance of their departments; and law firm managers and other attorneys who want to recruit and retain top female attorneys.  In-house counsel speakers for the 2010 seminar will include attorneys from Taco Bell and DuPont.  Additionally, the networking opportunities during this seminar are amazing, which is critical for law students in this challenging job market.  It only cost law students $20 per year to join DRI, and seminars are free.  Airfare and hotel costs are not covered, but there is a hotel discount for the seminar. Register at  Contact Kelly A. Williams (412) 288-4005 if you have any questions. 

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