Though law firms are laying off staff, I have seen no evidence (yet) that legal IT workers are particularly at risk. That said, it’s always good to be prepared 

Every professional who wants to remain employed should have a current resume. You just never know when it might come in handy. I see many resumes because I hire, network, and informally advise my friends on their careers and resumes. A few simple resume rules that I see violated surprisingly often:

  • Two pages. Period.
  • No typos (that’s what friends and families are for!)
  • Professional look overall (e.g., no cramming text with font and spacing games)
  • Positioning of your experience appropriate to the target job (i.e., you may need multiple versions)
  • PDF (not Word)
  • File title that’s descriptive (e.g., Ron Friedmann – Resume – July 2008.pdf)

In this day and age, especially if you are a technical expert or technology manager, you should also be findable on the web (see my post, Managing the Brand Called You). At minimum, get a Linkedin profile. It may not help but it’s hard to see how it can hurt.

If you do a job search, make sure you have a short, cogent cover e-mail message or letter. It should explain what you seek and why you are qualified. Even if you’ve just had a great conversation with a contact do this. Your contact may want to forward your e-mail, so it should be self-contained. That way your contact can simply write a short cover note like “Great person, I endorse her if you have anything open that might fit … see below.”

Have reasonable expectations of search professionals. Remember, their client is the employer, not you. If you’ve worked with search professionals previously and have a relationship, it’s fair to expect at least a bit of advice and words of encouragement. But absent prior, decent relationship, expect a response only if your credentials happen to match a search currently underway.

If all this seems obvious, sorry, but as mentioned, I never cease to be surprised at how many of these simple guidelines are violated.

Update, 25 July 2008: A reader asked a good question, prompting a clarification. The 2-page resume limit is for resumes you send by e-mail to a contact and, I would say, even to an HR department. If you have a web-based resume or submit your resume to career web sites, then I have less personal experience. Certainly for web based resumes (if you have your own site, as this reader does), longer may be better because you get more potential hit words. I suspect anyone relying on career sites should read separate advice for how best to optimize resumes in that venue.