Alberta Lawyers' Assistance Society

News & Events

Getting Past Resume Algorithms and Beyond

Many lawyers, articling students, and potential articling students  encounter resume screening when they look for new opportunities. Today, we turn blog authorship over to Shetin Adams, a legal recruiter, to provide tips to get past AI screening software along with social media and networking tips. Being unhappy in your job situation, or not having a job to be happy or unhappy in, is stressful. Assist provides professional counselling services to respond to stress and distress job-seeking lawyers and students face, but following practical tips from an industry expert can be an excellent proactive step.


Getting Past Resume Algorithms and Beyond


The reality of life in the 21st century is the constant presence of artificial intelligence, or ‘AI’. AI refers to software and programs capable of completing tasks previously performed by humans. Some examples of AI include virtual assistants on smartphones, tiny robot vacuums with IQ navigation that independently clean homes, and self-driving cars that avoid road obstacles and stop at traffic lights while the “driver” is free to take a nap at the wheel.
If you’re embarking on your legal career, you’ll likely need to pass AI before HR reads your resume. Many legal employers employ AI recruitment software using pre-determined algorithms to search and count specific keywords in resumes, which are scored to keyword match and flagged accordingly. In addition, some software will check social media presence, such as LinkedIn and Twitter, to further decide on a candidate’s suitability.
Below are some tips on writing your resume, managing your online presence, and networking to get you past AI and advance your career.

Resume Tips:

  1. Customize your resume – Write your resume to the job posting by picking out keywords and phrases related to the desired abilities, knowledge, and skills. Also include industry-specific keywords. Targeting your resume will help you make it past AI and into the hands of a recruiter, but be mindful of plagiarism. The idea here is not to simply copy and paste an organisation’s job description into your resume, but rather to naturally integrate the job description’s main points into your application materials. AI software’s function is as much about identifying potentially good candidates as it is about rejecting potentially bad candidates before they appear in front of a hiring manager, and plagiarism (which can be detected by most recruiting software) is a sure-fire way to not get chosen.
  1. Keep your resume simple – Use a consistent font and bullet points that are generally no longer than two lines, and plenty of industry and/or practice area keywords. Refrain from using unique fonts, images, or tables, which may not be readable for AI recruitment software. Aim to keep your resume file smaller than 2MB (or check company requirements). It is fine and in many cases favourable to add a creative flair to your resume, but remember your resume is not an art project. Too many images, margins, and other unnecessary additions on your resume can cause the recruiting software to misread your application materials, or even identify it as spam.
  1. Check the length of your resume – As a general guideline, keep your resume to two pages maximum and focus on relevant work experience. If required, include a transaction sheet or synopsis to highlight specific deals or cases you have worked on. 
  1. Put a number to your accomplishments – Hard facts go a long way. Be specific and quantify your achievements. Rather than having “great leadership skills”, say you “managed a $XX budget valued” or “worked on $XX a deal”. Show, don’t tell. Many AI-driven recruiting programs also have a preference for numbers, so using numbers may help your resume get in front of the right people.
  1. Double-check spelling and grammar – Poor spelling and grammar will reflect poorly on you as a candidate. Reach out to a legal recruiter or a trusted contact to double-check your resume.

 Social Media Tips:

  1. Clean up your social media presence – Prospective employers will check your online presence, so always Google yourself. Your social media is your personal brand. Choose your photos wisely, check your privacy settings, and think before you post. Put yourself online; absence may be considered a red flag. In today’s world if you’re not online, you don’t exist, so join the party but do it wisely.
  1. Be mindful of online etiquette – In the legal profession, your professional reputation and behaviour are paramount. Proper online etiquette is key to accessing and growing professional relationships and potential job opportunities. Don’t do anything online that you wouldn’t do in real life. Once it’s out there, you can’t take it back, even if you delete it!
  1. LinkedIn is critical – Your LinkedIn profile is your online resume. Use the platform to showcase your personal and professional achievements. Follow law firms, companies, and legal recruitment groups on LinkedIn to stay up-to-date on job opportunities. In addition, using keywords related to your practice area of choice will make it easier for legal recruiters to find you.

Networking Tips:

  1. Connect, connect, connect – Reach out to senior lawyers you admire, contacts at law firms you’re interested in, and legal recruitment professionals. Keep in touch with people you meet at events. Stay on top of industry developments by following leading lawyers, relevant publications, and like-minded peers.
  2. Actively engage with relevant content – Join LinkedIn groups and participate in discussion relevant to your practice, industry, or business/professional interests, such as human rights law, leadership, or diversity & inclusion. Actively interacting with relevant content will build your industry knowledge and inform your career choices. Everyone has something worthwhile to (respectfully) contribute to an important conversation or topic and doing so could gain the attention of contacts you may never would have thought possible to be in contact with.
  1. Review before you post – Write about your own unique experiences and share your insights but always keep in mind your audience and professional relationships. Also, ensure all written communication, comments and blogs, are error free. Too many mistakes may be counted against your attention to detail.

Finally, we encourage applicants to be proactive. Opportunities are everywhere, so seek out employment rather than wait for people to come to you. Social media platforms, from LinkedIn and Twitter to blogs and personal websites, are key in growing your professional network, showcasing your experience and skills, and connecting with prospective employers.

For further information, please contact Shetin Adams, Project Coordinator at The Counsel Network (now a Caldwell company) at

Shetin Adams,
Project Coordinator at The Counsel Network