News, opinion, interviews and business insights from legal industry leadersSubscribe
Writing a great CV
Writing a great CV is one of the most important elements of the job application process. Your CV (along with your Cover Letter) is the first piece of contact you have with a prospective employer and like any meeting it is important that you create a great first impression.
Dave Johnson, writing for Moneywatch, has produced a number of internet articles which provide some excellent advice on the topic of CV & Cover Letter writing. He asks the question, “How effectively does your resume sell you to a prospective employer?” and provides a number of suggestions which I think we can all use to make our CVs stand out from the crowd.
Your CV: Emphasise how you add value:
Writing a great CV is something of a science. As I’ve mentioned many times before, you need to discuss your accomplishments, for example, not just your job description.
But accomplishments can sometimes be a little me-centric; as Careerealism points out, it’s important to show that your accomplishments have had a material impact on the business you work for. In other words, your resume should describe your ROI (return on investment) and it should be focussed on what you bring to the role, not what the role could do for you.
1 -Explain how you improved revenue. This is traditionally difficult to articulate unless you work in sales, but you should think about projects you played a role in which contributed to the bottom line. Explain how what you did reduced expenses or opened up entirely new lines of revenue.
2- Show how you performed duties that went beyond the scope of your position. If you took on roles ordinarily performed by other people, trained other workers, or otherwise reduced the company’s need for staffing other positions, that has a direct and material impact on the company’s bottom line. Explain how what you did reduced expenditures or trimmed the budget.
3 -Illustrate how your actions contained costs. If you’re not a Senior VP or negotiating vendor contracts, you might think that it’s hard to talk about how you played a role in cost containment. Careerealism points out that there are many situations you might encounter on a daily basis that you can include in your resume though — think about how you saved money by leveraging new tools and technology, by clever team scheduling, or by implementing telework or telecommuting programs
4 -Don’t make the resume about you. Of course, the resume is about why you’re great for the role. But be careful that the resume is about what skills you bring to the table, and not what you want to get out of the role. For example, now is the time to eliminate the utterly obsolete “objective.” And don’t make the cover letter about what you are “seeking.” Make it about what you can offer.
5 -Less is more. Be ruthless in editing your resume. Don’t use blocks of text; use bullet points. Don’t make someone do a lot of reading, because they won’t. Anything that doesn’t sell you as an awesome candidate should be cut.
In-house Lawyers can really make use of Dave’s advice. You may not be able to generate revenue but you will undoubtedly have helped to reduce expenditure, by undertaking more work in-house; by driving down external legal fees; and by reducing litigation. You should state how much was saved? How you went about driving down costs? And, how what the result was for the business and your career?
Another great area for the In-house Lawyer to focus on is that of experience in areas outside of pure Legal matters. These typically include holding another job title – e.g. Company Secretary, Insurance Manager, Compliance Manager or Data Protection Officer. If you hold another title, what impact has this had on your employers business? Why did you get the job? How have you made a difference?
Your CV is an opportunity to showcase your skills, experience and suitability for the role. You must ensure that your CV is concise, factual and backed up with relevant examples. It should not be too wordy and it should come with a punchy personal profile which summarises your CV and key skills for the role in a paragraph or two.