1L Resume and Cover Letter with very limited work experience

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redsoxfan2495
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1L Resume and Cover Letter with very limited work experience

Postby redsoxfan2495 » Mon Feb 13, 2012 3:21 am

So, I'm still applying to summer jobs and I've been having problems composing resumes and cover letters, mostly stemming from the fact that I have almost nothing to put in the experience section. Throughout undergrad I worked the same crappy job in retail. I realize I should've done internships, volunteer work, etc., but there's not much I can do about that now. This leaves the bottom half of my resume looking something like this:

EXPERIENCE
-----BUY N LARGE-------------------------------------------------------------Town, STATE
-----Sales Floor----------------------------------------------------------------2006-2011
-----Answered people's stupid questions and organized cans of soup.

The school provided plenty of sample resumes, but they all seem to be from students who came to law school with at least four impressive jobs, internships or volunteer experiences under their belt. The sample cover letters have the same problem. I can't write about how my experience fighting AIDS in Africa qualifies me for a PI job.

When I talked to someone at career services they gave me a few tips, a couple of which sounded sort of odd. On my resume it was suggested that I take something out of my college activities section (a political group I was president of) and put it under experience. They also suggested that I try to explain away the lack of experience in the cover letter (something about how I needed the money and couldn't do unpaid stuff). To me this seems (a.) like bullshit and (b.) like drawing extra attention to my biggest weakness as an applicant. One school's website (I believe Duke's) suggests putting a positive spin on weak experience ("My customer service experience has prepared me for the challenege of dealing with attorneys and clients with diverse backgrounds and goal.").

tl;dr version: I have very little work experience. What do you think about the above strategies for dealing with that? Do you have other suggestions?

BrianFellow
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Re: 1L Resume and Cover Letter with very limited work experience

Postby BrianFellow » Mon Feb 13, 2012 4:19 am

You emphasize your academic credentials and you say nothing about your WE, because there is nothing to say. Pre-LS work experience isn't hugely relevant anyway, unless it's something spectacular.

I don't agree with any career services "advisor" who says you should spin CSR experience into law practice. Come on.

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Cupidity
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Re: 1L Resume and Cover Letter with very limited work experience

Postby Cupidity » Mon Feb 13, 2012 4:24 am

I got a lot of positive responses 1L listing some of my restaurant jobs on my resume. Mostly from older employers who began talking about how "kids these days" don't have good work ethic. Saying you pulled 40 hour shifts while paying your way through college while maintaining a decent GPA means a lot more to some people than so-called "experience." Your angle for your cover letters is that you understand what a job is, and you are willing to work.

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dood
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Re: 1L Resume and Cover Letter with very limited work experience

Postby dood » Mon Feb 13, 2012 5:05 am

Cupidity wrote:I got a lot of positive responses 1L listing some of my restaurant jobs on my resume. Mostly from older employers who began talking about how "kids these days" don't have good work ethic. Saying you pulled 40 hour shifts while paying your way through college while maintaining a decent GPA means a lot more to some people than so-called "experience." Your angle for your cover letters is that you understand what a job is, and you are willing to work.


i came here to write this.

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acrossthelake
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Re: 1L Resume and Cover Letter with very limited work experience

Postby acrossthelake » Mon Feb 13, 2012 2:32 pm

Cupidity wrote:I got a lot of positive responses 1L listing some of my restaurant jobs on my resume. Mostly from older employers who began talking about how "kids these days" don't have good work ethic. Saying you pulled 40 hour shifts while paying your way through college while maintaining a decent GPA means a lot more to some people than so-called "experience." Your angle for your cover letters is that you understand what a job is, and you are willing to work.


Yeah, this. I put down on my resume that I worked part-time during college to help finance my education, and I got asked about it by a fair # of interviewers, particularly law firm interviewers.

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Cupidity
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Re: 1L Resume and Cover Letter with very limited work experience

Postby Cupidity » Mon Feb 13, 2012 2:38 pm

Something else I find really important, you had a job for 5 years. That's a pretty strong message.

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Re: 1L Resume and Cover Letter with very limited work experience

Postby Anonymous User » Mon Feb 13, 2012 3:26 pm

ABSOLUTELY put the job on your resume.

You probably noticed working at that store that many of the other employees were outrageously lazy. Calling in sick because they were hung over, acting like spoiled brats because they had to work on a Saturday, showing up late frequently, and being otherwise lazy in general. If that wasn't the case at your job, then you're lucky.

Work ethic - the mindset that your employer is paying you MONEY to do something, so you should do it with a smile, to the best of your ability, even if your employer isn't a very nice person, is something that most people lack. Literally, more than 50% of the people in this country are lazy and entitled. They just don't get it. What's more, most employers know this (and I know this for a fact). You can set yourself apart from the rest of the pack simply by not being lazy.

Having that job for that long shows that you get it, you're not lazy. You could've blown your free time in college drinking and smoking weed, but you worked. There is more to be said for that than you would think. All your buddies who did spend all their free time drinking and smoking weed are going to be sitting in their basement apartments and complaining in a few years that the system is broken and unfair because they didn't end up getting a job from their uncle so they're poor. You'll be fishing for marlin in Cabo san Lucas and complaining that your taxes pay for your lazy high school friends healthcare and the margarita in your hand isn't cold enough.

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redsoxfan2495
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Re: 1L Resume and Cover Letter with very limited work experience

Postby redsoxfan2495 » Mon Feb 13, 2012 6:13 pm

Hey everyone, thanks very much for the responses. What do you guys think specifically about putting student org.s in which I held leadership positions under the experience section of my resume? I suppose I had a decent amount of responsibility and it did eat up a non-negligible amount of my time, but I'm not sure if it's a good idea. Then again, it's either do that or leave the bottom third of my resume blank.

EDIT: I'm applying pretty much exclusively to PI/Gov't jobs in my home state if that matters.

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LeDique
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Re: 1L Resume and Cover Letter with very limited work experience

Postby LeDique » Mon Feb 13, 2012 6:28 pm

redsoxfan2495 wrote:Hey everyone, thanks very much for the responses. What do you guys think specifically about putting student org.s in which I held leadership positions under the experience section of my resume? I suppose I had a decent amount of responsibility and it did eat up a non-negligible amount of my time, but I'm not sure if it's a good idea. Then again, it's either do that or leave the bottom third of my resume blank.

EDIT: I'm applying pretty much exclusively to PI/Gov't jobs in my home state if that matters.


I guess my question is: why not? If you have the space, what harm is there to come from moving it to experience? I have my section titled "experience" for specifically that reason. I've included leadership positions from college orgs, etc. that are simply experience rather than work experience. Otherwise, I'd hardly have a resume.

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acrossthelake
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Re: 1L Resume and Cover Letter with very limited work experience

Postby acrossthelake » Mon Feb 13, 2012 6:29 pm

redsoxfan2495 wrote:Hey everyone, thanks very much for the responses. What do you guys think specifically about putting student org.s in which I held leadership positions under the experience section of my resume? I suppose I had a decent amount of responsibility and it did eat up a non-negligible amount of my time, but I'm not sure if it's a good idea. Then again, it's either do that or leave the bottom third of my resume blank.

EDIT: I'm applying pretty much exclusively to PI/Gov't jobs in my home state if that matters.


I did this with my resume until I got to the point where I had enough paying jobs that weren't SO non-important (so, my cushy 3-4/hr week sit at the desk in the library doing homework getting paid job doesn't go on there, but things like being a teacher's assistant does) and could just put student orgs under the education section.




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