When you are ready to start looking for an entry-level position in litigation support, you will need to tweak your resume so that you stand out from the crowd. When I was a litigation support manager, I would skim the resumes and put them into two piles. One was the “under consideration” pile and the other one was the “not interested” pile. Although I looked for the same qualities most of the time, I would switch back and forth between hiring entry-level or hiring experienced individuals. If the mindset of the manager is such that they are leaning towards or they are open to hiring an entry-level candidate, then your resume will need to grab that manager's attention.
When the litigation support manager skims your resume, you have one brief opportunity to stand out from the crowd. Your resume will need to show that you are serious about pursuing a litigation support career. Below are some of the criteria I would look for in an entry-level resume.
A paragraph at the beginning of the resume that contains 3 or 4 compelling sentences about why you want to transition into litigation support and what you believe you bring to the table. This paragraph should not sound like a boring objective paragraph. Include 1 or 2 sentences that give a brief, but honest, explanation of what your thought process is and where you're coming from.
Imagine that the litigation support manager is going to look through your resume and think to themself “this person doesn't have the right background” or “why is this person applying for a litigation support position?” Use those 1 or 2 sentences to respond to that reaction. Why should they at least consider a phone interview with you? Why are you the entry-level candidate that they should take a chance on? Why are you so passionate about this career transition?
The other few sentences in this paragraph should briefly summarize what you believe are your key strengths as well as some decisive steps that you have recently taken to show your commitment to a position in litigation support. If you took the initiative to prepare and educate yourself as best you can prior to applying for a position, that initiative will be a positive trait. Think of it as your elevator pitch or your personal marketing message. Avoid sounding like every other resume out there where people list things like “I am a team player”. The more you sound like a person who understands what a litigation support position entails, the more likely you will grab the attention of that manager.
Do not lie about your experience. A litigation support manager will see right through it (a) if the experience on your resume doesn't add up with the item you lied about or (b) if they ask you questions via telephone or in person. If you want to put something on your resume that you don't know all that well, but you think it will add value, then be honest about the level of experience you do have.
Figure out ways to highlight any tasks you performed or knowledge you gained in former positions that will align well with a litigation support position. For instance,
if you have ever scanned or OCR'd documents for any reason,
if you have performed database searches in any software application,
if you have generated detailed reports in any software application,
if you have experience using Excel to track information,
if you have any exposure to electronic discovery,
if you have any knowledge of the litigation process,
if you have ever used a document management system,
if you have experience working with lawyers,
if you have any programming experience,
if you have the ability to multi-task well,
if you have been a project manager, or
if you have worked in high stress or fast paced environments.
Imagine that the litigation support manager is going to skim your entry-level resume and look for any skillsets or experience that could be similarly applied to a litigation support position. Look through the job descriptions for litigation support positions and see if any of the line items match a similar item on your resume. Re-write that line item so that it sounds similar to a litigation support task (without lying of course).
If it is true, I would include anything related to you
helping a team member,
providing training (1:1, user support or classroom),
providing technical support at any level,
creating a process or system,
learning new software and applying what you learned,
taking initiative or going “above and beyond”, or
using organizational or analytical skills.
If you would like me to to provide feedback on your compelling/self marketing paragraph, copy and paste it into an e-mail and send it to me.