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A question we are frequently asked is “how should I draft my CV”? The CV is one of the most important elements of the recruitment process and a well drafted CV could give you the edge over a candidate with similar experience but with a poorly drafted CV.
Your CV should be current, relevant to the vacancy you are applying for and should give a complete breakdown of your professional and personal achievements. But what makes a CV stand out from all the others that a Partner or HR Manager has land on his or her desk? That is a good question and relevant to those applying for jobs in this very competitive current job market.
Perhaps the last time you were given advice on how to write a CV was at school when the careers advisor made his or her annual trip your school and gave a monotone and dull presentation on how to draft a generic CV…” no more than two pages, list all your summer holiday jobs blah blah blah”.
As the leading regional legal recruitment consultancy we’d like to think we’re in the strongest position to advise lawyers and would be lawyers on how to write law firm specific CVs. Set out below are some tips and pointers.
• Your CV will be the first piece of information the recruiting partner will receive on you. Just as you would wear a suit when attending for interview you should ensure your CV looks the part. A sensible font such as Arial should be used and bullet points will keep the reader’s attention far more than pages and pages of continuous prose. You should avoid using fancy borders and headings – the recruiting partner is more interested in your technical skills than your clip art skills.
• How long should my CV be? Your CV should set out the facts. Always include your academic achievements in full and you should account for any gaps such a travelling or sabbaticals. You should detail all of the experience you have gained at each of the firms you have worked for; be specific and give examples of the types of clients you have acted for, the size and complexity of transactions or the size of caseload. Your CV therefore should be as long as it needs to be to give an accurate and detailed outline of your experience – if you have unique experience flaunt it!
• Set out your hobbies and interests – law firms seek rounded lawyers and the recruiting partner will want to know what you enjoy when you are not at work – you might have something in common with the recruiting partner. Ensure that whatever hobbies and interests you list you can speak fluently and confidently about them. Avoid alluding to too many regular trips to your local pub at the weekend. Likewise, shopping and socialising are not hobbies.
• Give specific examples of business development or marketing initiatives you have had involvement in. Law firms are increasingly interested in recruiting the next generation of work winners and this is an opportunity for those who thrive on networking to show what you have.
• Don’t list all of your university summer jobs. Whilst you may look back on them with fond memories your prospective new boss isn’t interested in those bar jobs or your shelf stacking prowess.
• Experienced lawyers (those with upwards of 6 years’ PQE) should make reference to any client wins/successful business development. Ideally you should have a business plan as well as your CV. Your relationships with your clients will form a large part of the interview discussion and you should be able to speak confidently about this. Poor preparation can be misconstrued as having weak relationships with your clients.
The above are some basic tips and pointers. Candidates who seek CV advice are invited to contact a consultant at BCL Legal who will give tailored advice relevant to the candidate’s application. For more information visit www.bcllegal.com or call us on 0845 241 0933