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Do you remember when you were back in school and there was that one lesson, usually around the time you were applying for work experience, when the teacher sat the whole class down and talked you through writing a CV? Back then when you’re 15 or 16 you probably don’t have much to say apart from school achievements, perhaps a Saturday job or paper round which of course means you’re punctual, trustworthy and have excellent customer service skills… blah blah blah. Duke of Edinburgh awards are a stalwart of the teenage CV too (I got Gold… yes I am very proud of that) and then of course, hobbies and interests.
At that age my hobbies were listed as rugby (played for school, wasn’t very good), tennis (played outside of school at a local club, wasn’t very good), and music (I play a couple of instruments, much better than I play rugby or tennis). There have been others that have made it onto the list over the years but these days my hobbies and interests are limited to walking, hiking and rock climbing (putting that DofE Gold to good use), and music (still better at this than I ever was at rugby and tennis). The majority of us have hobbies, some more than others and some more obscure than others as well. Mine are pretty standard I think and not uncommon, but having been a specialist legal recruiter for close upon three years now it’s safe to say I have seen some pretty interesting hobbies and interests on CVs. Some of my personal favourites:
• “Geocaching” – if you’re a fan of Pokémon Go then you will probably be a fan of this! It’s basically a more intellectual version.
• “Medieval re-enactments” – putting on armour and battling with hundreds of others to relive history. This actually sounds like a lot of fun, although quite exhausting I imagine.
• “Cheese tasting” – don’t get me wrong, I absolutely love cheese but how someone made a hobby out of this I will never know.
These are some of the more sensible of the obscure we have seen, but regardless of what it is you do in your spare time (within reason of course, try and keep it professional on a CV) the sentiment remains the same; it’s important to show your personality. If you have done something outside of work that you are particularly proud of or that you feel was quite an achievement make sure you include that too! Running marathons, volunteering and so on, these are all things that show your character. While it is not expected that the person interviewing you will share your interests and hobbies, if you’re interested in something or have a passion then you surely are able to talk about it and make it seem interesting to someone else too.
When it comes to an interview a large part of the success factor is personality. Yes you have to be able to do the job; you have to have the technical knowledge and skills but you also have to fit in with the people around you. The first arrow in your quiver to help prove all of this is your CV. It’s important that you’re able to talk about your work and your legal knowledge in more detail when questioned (don’t worry, we will help you prepare), but equally as important is the personality fit and this works both ways for interviewer and interviewee.
Writing a CV can seem like a cumbersome task, not very interesting and certainly not exciting. Of course this is something we can help you with but then I think we all have a touch of vanity about us, who doesn’t like talking about themselves?! Our advice; the more relevant detail the better, and don’t limit it to only two pages. We often get this question from candidates who have been told that a CV shouldn’t be longer than that but in reality if you have something to say that is relevant to the job you’re applying for then say it, don’t hold back on the detail and of course (coming back to the original point) it’s important to show your human side as well. So please, when you send us your CV make sure you tell me about the work you have done, the clients you’ve worked for, the deals you’ve done, the wins and the losses; but please, don’t make it all about the lawyer, make it about the individual as well.