Why You Should Highlight Your Strengths and Downplay Your Weaknesses In Your Resume and During Interviews
Speaker 1:[00:00:00] Much of what you talked about, say engaging in sales puffery about a candidate. Is that a fair assessment? Any best recommendations about how to do this in cover letters about yourself, as opposed to the candidate, or initial interviews while also being truthful is one of the recurring points in your articles? How much are firms likely to follow up with references or former employers to fact check?
Okay, this is an interesting question and I can see why you may have taken part of my presentation as biased. I completely understand why you would. I'm actually not recommending sales puffery. What I'm recommending is how you position yourself to law firms, to look desirable to them.
The question is, how do you position your strengths and background in the best way possible. That's really the best way to think about it.
Now, I will agree that one of the reasons that recruiters are, and not everyone should be using a recruiter, but one of the reasons they're very good is that they will bring out your strengths and can say things about you that you can't say on your own.
If I go to you and I say, "I did this and I did [00:01:00] that, and I'm the... " Your reaction is, "Okay, fine, whatever." But if someone else says it, especially if that person has credibility for you, then you're much more likely to listen to them. So that's one of the things that I recommend, is having other people speak for you, but most people don't.
I think it might be useful for all of us to have a resume workshop next week. I haven't done one of those in a while, and that would be helpful. Those typically go several hours, but that would be good. Go over resumes because you typically will highlight your strengths and what you've done well in your resume, and then downplay your weaknesses.
One of the things people do in their resumes is a lot of times, they're very proud of graduating with a 3.1 from law school or graduated in the top 50% and they put that on the resume, or they put things on that have nothing to do with what they're trying to do, or they don't emphasize their strengths enough, or they're letting everything ride on their law school and then they put down that they were the member of some religious organization during law school, that's probably not a good thing.
You need to make sure that your resume itself emphasizes your strengths and doesn't emphasize your weakness. You need to lead with their [00:02:00] strengths. And then the other thing is that you need to think about, and this is a very important thing. One of the reason this is so important is because you're a lawyer and everybody here is expected to be a lawyer. When I used to clerk for a judge, I would actually go to these trials and watch these trials because they were more fun, especially the criminal ones, and I would rather work late and that sort of thing, and watch one of these trials, and sit in court.
If you watch a criminal attorney, the client may have done some of the worst things imaginable, but a good attorney is always going to have a very straight face and emphasize the strengths and get you to consider and ignore evidence of negative things and try to look at positive things. And that's what you need to do with yourself. And people don't understand that. You don't bring attention to negative things.
So if I was representing a murderer, I wouldn't put on there that he liked to watch murder shows, he was an avid hunter, he'd received a stocking citation. I don't know. But you don't put things on there. But that's what people do when they represent themselves in their resumes. They draw attention to things that aren't achievements and they draw things [00:03:00] to make themselves look average. And, they don't emphasize their strengths.
Instead of putting that stuff in there, the guy should be putting things about how he goes to church every week, about how he was a boy scout, like whatever. But people always lead with their negatives and it doesn't help.
Puffery is not being truthful. It's being an attorney and it's emphasizing your strengths and having a story that talks about your strengths.
When a lot of people go into a new relationship and they meet someone new, whether it's romantic or a friendship, they don't start off by telling that person things that are wrong with them or emphasizing their negative traits. They start off by really thinking about what makes them so positive. And they come up with a story. Most people do this instinctively. When you meet a new friend, you say, "Hey, we have this in common. We have this and we do this. And I like this. And you're like this. Isn't this great?"
And that's what people need to do when they're trying to get jobs, because you need to do the same thing you do when you make friends or significant others. Find commonalities and downplay weaknesses. We don't talk about [00:04:00] your negatives. You don't emphasize things that are bad about yourself. You make yourself seem strong and you go with your strengths. You want people to like you. And that's what you need to do. So you need to think that way. And that's what the best attorneys do. If you tell them 15 bad things about their client, they're probably not even going to react. They might not even argue back, especially if they're true.
But then have you ever seen like a crime show where they say no questions if a witness is called and there's just horrible things, they say no questions. They realize that they're going to have to influence you some other way. So you need to be able to put together a really good argument for yourself that makes you look strong and think about how do you emphasize your strengths.
And that's what a good recruiter does. You can do it yourself. They bring out what's positive about you. All these things, what's positive? Are you from an area, you want to relocate there? You don't have to talk about being diverse, but maybe you are. And you can certainly send out signals about that or if you went to all of these, for your work history. If you did something really special. There's just all sorts of things you can do to emphasize your strengths.
So I recommend that everyone do that [00:05:00] and figure out what makes you special. And everybody has lots and lots of strengths. You just need to make sure that people are picking up on them and you're showing people what those strengths are. And I hope that helps.
It's a lot of information, but wanted to make sure you understood that. Just think in terms of what do you do in relationships compared to what you do when you meet new people compared to what you do in interviews. Are you showing your best self?
And the other thing is too, is think about friendship or a date. Anybody here who's ever had a successful relationship with someone of the opposite sex or the same sex or whatever, or romantic relationship, generally, or you're very excited about that person when you meet them, when you see them, there's something about them that clicks. You need to be able to convey the same level of enthusiasm for whoever you're trying to work for. And that's very interesting.
I had an experience not too long ago, and it's probably inappropriate to talk about here, but I'm going to talk about it anyway. I met this woman just by chance. She came to my house to look at [00:06:00] a piece of exercise equipment I was selling. And I started talking to her and she's an attorney. And she brought in all these really great qualifications, great commonalities that we had and really presented this amazing personality to me.
And then I met her and she told me she used to be this famous model and told me all the best aspects of her business, told me she owned a law firm told me that she was French, all this stuff looked really good. So then I spent some time getting to know this person. And then later I found out she was married and she didn't tell me that. She didn't tell me that for the longest time. And she's not really married. She's basically estranged, which is fine. But the point I'm saying is that people will talk about their best qualities first and they'll bring your attention to the best qualities and they'll avoid negative. And she also didn't talk about her kids and other things.
Now that was her choice and she probably... I... Who knows what was going on there. But the point is that this is how you sell people on things. You emphasize your best characteristics. And this person did an exciting exceptional job with that, making herself seem in [00:07:00] demand and successful and everything. And that's what everyone does. So that's what you do when you meet people.
This is the kind of the big point I'm trying to make today. That person was very good at making themselves seem in demand. And anybody can do that. I hope that helps.
I know that's a long-winded answer, but this is just so important.