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Paralegal Resume Fail

A single typo in your paralegal resume can kill your paralegal job search success.

Is that fair? 


Before sending hate mail, think about the purpose of a resume: to start you on the hiring process path. A paralegal resume represents you. 

How does a paralegal resume filled with fatal errors showcase the best side of you? 

A checklist was created for you so that you will avoid any fatal resume errors. 


What does a typo convey to a potential employer? That typo conveys that you are not detail-oriented (a must for a paralegal). What do the other deadly errors reveal about you? Your lack of judgment, poor communication skills, and indifference. Ouch!

While an excellent paralegal resume can open doors, a flawed, error-filled document will slam them shut. If your errors are too egregious, you could land on the do-not-hire list.

Paralegal Resume Fails

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What are the deadly resume mistakes and how can you avoid them?

First Deadly Paralegal Resume Sin: Spelling Errors, Grammatical Mistakes, and Missing Words

Paralegal Resume Fails - Typo

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Words and language are the primary tools in the legal world toolbox. While all professional resumes need to be error-free, the legal field understandably has an even lower tolerance for this first deadly sin.


A contract missing a single world will not provide the expected protections. A motion with a typo can cost a client their case. A will missing a comma can cause an heir to receive less than the intended inheritance.

What is the culprit for the proliferation of spelling errors, grammatical mistakes, and missing words? Your brain and your fluid reading ability.

Remember learning to read in grade school, carefully sounding out each word, your finger tracking each line of text? How many decades has it been since you have noticed the act of reading while you absorb information from the written text?

You can thank your brain and your fluid reading ability for your ease with reading. You can blame your brain and your fluid reading ability for not seeing the errors in your paralegal resume.

To help you your brain auto-corrects the errors and adds any missing words.

To disable this helpful aspect of your brain, slow down your reading, pay close attention to each and every word, and read out loud. Enlist others to review your paralegal resume (cover letter, even your thank you note!).

Avoid this first deadly paralegal resume sin and showcase your strength with the most important tool in the legal world!

Second Deadly Resume Sin: Incorrect, Unprofessional, or Missing Contact Information

Your paralegal resume made it past the screening gatekeepers. You have the exact experience required. And yet your phone did not ring.

Waiting for a call

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Your phone number on your resume was incorrect.


Double-check your contact information to make sure your phone number and email address are correct.

Talking about email addresses, this is not the time to use a suggestive, silly, or otherwise inappropriate email address. Save your 2hot2handle email address for emailing friends and create a more professional, simple email address for your resume, such as YourName at YourEmailProvide dot Com.

Your email address should not be creating a negative impression about you!

Resume Fails email Address

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Third Deadly Paralegal Resume Sin: Passive Voice, Repetitive Words, and Incorrect Verb Tense

You are a dynamic, interesting, intelligent, and highly skilled paralegal. A boring paralegal resume does not represent the rockstar you are!

Cat picture I'm bored

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Eliminate passive voice in your paralegal resume. Passive voice is boring! Hunt down any form of the verb “To Be.” Instead, describe your achievements and skills using active verb replacements.

Notice the same phrase sprinkled throughout your paralegal resume? That lack of creativity and paucity of vocabulary does not highlight your brilliance. Grab a thesaurus and find other ways to demonstrate your talents.

TIP: Only use present tense verbs to describe your work experience at your current position, assuming that you are still employed. Past tense verbs are used for all but your current position.

Fourth Deadly Paralegal Resume Sin: Misrepresentation of facts

Lots of people lie on their resumes and during the hiring process. Statistics range from 5% to 78% of applicants misrepresenting themselves during the hiring process.

So, it’s not a big deal to exaggerate about your college GPA, right?


The discovery of your lie could result in not only your termination for cause but could also negatively impact your future job prospects.

Cat lying on resume

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Instead of lying, craft a paralegal resume filled with the correct information which highlights your strengths and skills. Address any concerns you may have, such as a gap in employment, in your cover letter, not by misrepresenting the facts.

Fifth Deadly Paralegal Resume Sin: Vague Summary and Highlighting Duties, Not Achievements

According to Forbes, you only have 6 seconds to capture a recruiter’s attention. Don’t waste the valuable paralegal resume territory with a vague summary! Your professional resume is your 30-second elevator pitch

Resume - stuff never want to do

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Your desire is to keep the recruiter reading your resume, not put them to sleep. A stellar summary works as a sales tool for you while a vague or boring summary can kill your chances to land an interview!

Make sure to focus on your achievements. No one cares what duties were assigned to you. Your laundry list of responsibilities does not demonstrate how well you did your job. What did you do? How did you help your employer’s bottom line? Quantify your achievements! 

Sixth Deadly Resume Sin: Too Little, Too Much or Not Targeted

You don’t want your resume to be too long but you also do not want to have a sparsely filled page. You are looking for the Goldilocks, just a perfect-sized resume. Not so many pages that the recruiters dread reviewing it but also not so empty that one can only assume you have little relevant experience. 

Do not create only one paralegal resume which you submit to all open paralegal jobs. Make sure you review each job description and target your resume before submitting it to each job.

humor 1 page resume

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Your paralegal resume should be 1 to 2 pages and crafted to demonstrate your relevant experiences and skills for each paralegal position for which you apply.

Seventh Deadly Paralegal Resume Sin: Formatting Failures and Lack of White Space

Remember opening one of your college textbooks and staring at a page with unrelenting lines of black text? Did the sight fill you with joy or exhaustion?

Postit note resume

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Joy may not be the emotion that floods the recruiter reviewing your resume, but let’s avoid having aversion associated with you in any way.

Remember, white space is your friend. White space not only increases readability; it also saves your eyes and sanity. 

Formatting failures are like walking around with your shirt buttoned incorrectly. The visual distraction makes it difficult to focus on what you are saying.

Let’s make sure your resume is buttoned up correctly!

Hunting for formatting failures (using more than 1 font, orphan lines, columns not aligned, etc.) should be part of your proofreading checking list. 

TIP: Keyboard shortcut: “Ctrl A” or “Command A” selects all text in Word. Once you have selected all text, pick the font to be used in your whole document. (Use an easy to read font: Arial, Times New Roman)

Now that you know the 7 deadly sins to avoid, you can focus on the winning elements needed to create a standout paralegal resume. To help you avoid these resume sins, we created a resume checklist. Grab the checklist and create a resume which represents you and helps you land an interview!

Do you have any funny resume fails to share? Share them on The Official Paralegal Club Facebook Group. Join our Facebook Group and connect with other paralegals and legal assistants. Only other paralegals will understand what you deal with every day!

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