BCL Legal recently held a seminar for newly qualified solicitors where the most common concern for people qualifying in 2013 was how to put together a CV. Nowadays it is not uncommon for trainee solicitors to have embarked upon years of academic study, weeks of vacation schemes, held down several jobs, not to mention various charity initiatives and a whole host of extra curricular activities by the time they have undertaken their first seat. If you were to put together a CV detailing all of the above it would be an overwhelming read.
As a general rule of thumb I would advise the following in respect to putting together a CV when applying for NQ jobs:
1) Keep your CV to no more than three pages long starting with personal details, education, work experience, extra curricular activities and finishing on interests
2) Include your GCSE & AS/A Level results as well as your degree / LPC/ further education. If there was mitigating circumstances put a note next to your grades that you would welcome the opportunity to explain in person or via your recruitment agent
3) Your training contract – start with your most recent seat and work back and include the dates of the seats. Roughly have 10 bullet points for each seat giving detail on what you assisted with and what you might have handled as your own caseload. If you put something on your CV be prepared to give further detail about that case or scenario. Don’t exaggerate your experience – interviewers will be able to tell straight away if you try and pass someone else’s work off as your own
4) Tailor your CV for each role. If you are going for a litigation role expand upon your contentious employment experience, property litigation experience etc. What aspects of the civil procedure rules did you use? What is your experience of drafting? Taking witness statements? Whilst not directly relevant demonstrating an appetite for litigation will strengthen your application and allow you to detail your transferable skills
5) Be honest. Think you can get away with bumping up your LPC result or leaving off your CV that paralegal role where you left on bad terms? Well you can’t. Many of our clients undertake an extensive screening process into your employment history, address history, undertaking a full credit and CRB check. Nine times out ten it doesn’t matter what come up in this screening process, it only matters if something comes up that you tried to hide
6) Don’t include a photo – it isn’t needed and takes up valuable space
7) Include facts and figures. What was the volume of your caseload? What was the value? What clients did you have contact with? Were you working to targets?
8) If you have a genuine interest include it on your CV. Whatever it might be make sure it is something that reflects your personality and interests. Something unusual or extraordinary is a great starting point for an interviewer to be able to break the ice
9) Don’t be afraid to ask for advice. Even if you don’t want to use a recruitment agent get them to have a look over your CV and get their take on it
10) Keep your CV updated. If you update your CV as you go along it will not seem such an arduous task when it comes to qualification and your seat will then be fresh in your memory.
If you would like to have a confidential discussion about putting together a newly qualified CV please visit our website BCL Legal.