March is traditionally a quieter NQ season than September, with a number of September NQs still looking for opportunities competition is likely to be as tight as ever. We are approaching the time when internal processes start to finish and roles are released externally, now is the perfect time to review your CV in preperation for applications. As ever roles are very competitive and ensuring your CV is in working order is essential to getting that vital interview.
At BCL Legal we understand that the last time many NQ’s prepared a CV was when they applied for training contracts, applying for positions as a qualified solicitor is a very differant matter. As a matter of course when approaching a recruiter it is best to provide us with a general CV giving detail about all the seats you have undertaken. However below is some of the advice that we have been giving to NQ’s to help their CV’s stand out.
Firstly and most obviously put yourself in the position of the recruiting Partner. Whilst the intimate details of your College of Law Pro Bono work and Vacation Schemes may have been cruicial to securing the training contract they are likely to hold little interest to someone recruiting for a new commercial property or employment law solicitor. That person wants to see the experience that is relevant to their area of law.
Again it sounds obvious but also consider how relevant is the experience gained in your family law, residential property and criminal seats to a private client Partner. There would certainly be a case for simply mentioning the other seats and utilizing the extra space in your CV to go into detail about your private client experience. Do use your common sense though, for example residential property experience could be relevant to a private client Partner if his department look after this element of probate.
Bear in mind that other applicants may well have exactly the same experience as you. To make your CV stand out consider providing details of the type of clients you have acted for and what you did for them. A candidate that has redrafted employment contracts stands out less than one who has redrafted employment contracts for a Ltd company employing 100 people in the manufacturing industry. This kind of information allows the recruiting Partner to imagine you working for their team and (in this example) their manufacturing clients.
Remember that academics are still important. At NQ level many employers will want to know your degree grade and subject as well as what you studied and achieved at A-Level or equivalent.
Know when to stop. There are many people willing to hand out advice on CV’s. Most recruiters will submit your CV in their own (tried and tested) format. Therefore, agonising over structure and format is likely to be fruitless. Equally slight alterations to sentence structure are unlikely to be as important as they may seem.
Finally, always talk to your recruiter. A good recruitment consultant with provide advice and assistance regarding your applications. As a matter of course we try to find out what the recruiting Partner wants to see on the CV and advise accordingly. Furthermore we will advise on useful alterations and the available time scales for making those alterations. Work with your recruiter, from our perspective there is nothing more frustrating than a beautifully crafted CV that arrives one day after the closing date or spending time advising a candidate only to receive an updated CV with no percievable alterations.