I'm going back to basics in my blog this month; how to write a good legal CV. Your CV is crucial to your job search. In the same way that first impressions count when you meet people in person, your CV and particularly it's tone, will make a similarly lasting impression.
The harsh truth is that if I open CV, I will usually make a judgement on whether you are a potentially good candidate for a job within a couple of seconds. The moment I see a photograph of you, my interest wanes. If I see a personal profile, it's more often that not weak and irrelevant. Words like ambitious, energetic, enthusiastic, motivated, dedicated, blah, blah, blah don't give any indication of your suitability for a job so avoid filling your CV with them.
Your CV needs to convey your academics, professional qualifications, legal experience and technical skills, networking/business development skills and interests.
By no means do we expect your first draft to be perfect and we will work with you to improve it but follow these basic pointers...
- Include name, address, and contact details. These will get edited out of the version of your CV that we send out to law firms but include when sending to your recruitment consultant. There is no need to state marital status, religion etc.
- Include complete academics. Your A Level results may have been weak but they still need to be included. If there are mitigating circumstances talk to us about that. At the very least A Level, degree and GDL/LPC results need to be stated. Also include educational establishments and years of study.
- Legal experience. This is key. It should be in bullet point format, full but concise. You should give details of matters you've worked on and give specifics of what your particular role was; if you assisted, how you assisted. Mention clients you've acted for and sectors you have experience of. Your most recent experience will be the most relevant so don't go into detail on vacation placements (these can come off your CV once you've qualified) or seats you completed during your training contract that you didn't go on to qualify into. If you're a newly qualified solicitor, focus the bulk of the detail on the seat you want to qualify into and those that are complementary.
- Non-legal work experience - Give brief details on relevant non-legal work experience. Also detail dates if you worked through your studies; it can demonstrate a good work ethic but don't go into too much detail.
- Networking and business development - Mention memberships of professional networking groups including any involvement with junior lawyer groups or local law society. Also provide details on any positions of responsibility within your firm or externally. On the business development side, provide details of any client relationships you have developed or client relationships you manage. If you do have a book of work that you would expect to follow, we would recommend that you put a separate business plan together to cover this.
- Check and re-check grammar and punctuation!
When you send your CV to BCL Legal we will write a cover sheet for any applications we make on your behalf. This will draw out your relevant skills for the position we are putting forward for you and also detail the background to your application and explain why you are looking for a move.