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Make Your Resume Unique ... With Test Scores and Quirky Interests?

By William Peacock, Esq. on March 04, 2014 | Last updated on March 21, 2019

It all started with a Wall Street Journal sidebar. In an article about employers asking for SAT scores, the Journal states:

"Law-school graduates generally have near-identical transcripts and little work experience. Quirky interests, such as 19th century French poetry or a stint as a sports team mascot, can differentiate candidates for law firms." (emphasis original)

The Legal Watchdog blog thinks this is stupid advice, and points out that class rank, GPA, and other means of dividing up a homogenous group are the things that matter.

GPAs, SATs, LSATs, and interests: what really matters?

Test Scores on Applications

This is an interesting one. The WSJ article, while not actually discussing legal employment (except in the sidebar), mentions that some employers are making it a practice to ask applicants for SAT scores, with those in the financial sector placing an emphasis on math scores. And in my desperate days of post-bar unemployment, when I applied to 9,857 jobs (approximately), I distinctly remember a rare few asking for LSAT scores.

For the record, test scores are useless. I nailed the SAT verbal, did mediocre on math (yet was president of the Mathematics Engineering Science Achievement club -- I didn't get many dates), fell asleep during SAT II English, and nailed the LSAT. Basically, my record looks like it was prepared by the schizophrenic from A Beautiful Mind.

Tests. Mean. Nothing.

How about you, dear readers? Are test scores a thing now? Have you ever been asked about your LSAT or SAT on an application or during an interview? Tweet us @FindLawLP if you have, because seriously, there has to be a better way.

"Interest"-ing Resumes?

The WSJ says to include interests. Legal Watchdog disagrees, citing class rank, GPA, etc.

My career services office sided with the WSJ back in 2008. How did it turn out? Not bad, actually. Every single interviewer asked about my love of classic Japanese sports cars (the 1976 Toyota Celica GT liftback and the Datsun 240z, especially), and it was a great talking point. I didn't get the job, but then again, the interviews happened during lawpocalypse, where BigLaw firms were going belly-up and associate classes were being laid-off before they started.

The thing is, recruiters are going to get about 10,000 resumes. (At an unpaid gig I once worked at, we posted an ad for another unpaid spot. There were 100 resumes in our inbox within a day.) They'll skim through, delete any without the bare minimum prerequisites or with typos, then they'll pick out the few that have exceptional qualifications and experience.

Only after GPA, class rank, journals, experience, awards, yadda yadda, will they actually look at your interests. But during the interview, where they try to weed out the sociopaths, having a touch of humanity on your resume really can help. Think of it as an icebreaker.

But, if your hobbies include leather, making your own almond butter, and reenacting scenes from Pee Wee's Playhouse at the local community theater, that stuff, you should leave off.

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