Writing a great law CV
If you have finished university or are looking to change law firms, having a well-written CV in error-free English is one of the best ways to secure a job interview. Here's how you write the perfect CV.
Also known as a legal CV, this document is the only opportunity you get to set yourself apart from hundreds of other candidates.
Your CV needs to act as an advertisement to sell you and your capabilities to a future employer. It has two purposes: to enable employers to decide if you have the experience and skills required for the job and to get you an invite to a first interview.
Beginning your CV
Begin your CV with the basics: name, telephone numbers and email address. Many employers now look at a candidate's social media accounts so whether or not you add your Twitter account to your CV, ensure that you have not written any embarassing tweets recently.
To create the perfect CV, consider a list of skills and experiences you have acquired that you think would be suitable for the job you are applying for. There are two types of skills: hard skills and soft skills. Hard skills are skills that you have proactively acquired in a classroom such as Legal English or the nuances of contract law. Soft skills are skills that one picks up on life's journey such as the ability to network effectively, leadership skills and public speaking to name but three.
When it comes to work experience, work from your most recent role backwards. Write the dates you worked at each business down and be prepared to account for any missing dates on your CV. Write a few lines about what you did while you were there and mention any soft skills that you developed. If you attended any conferences, collected CPD points or have won any awards then you should write about them here too.
Many candidates are now writing introductions about themselves at the start of their CVs to highlight what makes them stand apart. The trouble is that far too many candidates turn to the same cliched sentences such as "I'm a team player", "I am a pro-active self-starter" or "I have great people skills." You should try and avoid these and pick a specific example of where you showed that you were a team player or demonstrated your people skills.
The member of the HR team who is sifting through CVs has probably seen a hundred before yours and will see another 200 more afterwards so make sure that your CV is original and worth spending more time with. Check the spelling and proofread everything to make sure it is entirely accurate. Use key words that match the job advertisement to demonstrate that you have actually read what you are applying for.
Show your style
Consider the style of your CV and how it relates to the firm that you are applying to. In the UK, we tend to use CVs of one of two pages and we never put a photograph on it.
For the writing style, you should stick to active voice throughout your CV and write in the third person. If you write an accompanying email or letter then you can use the first person for that.
Towards the end of the CV, you can add the hobbies and interests that inspire you away from your professional life. Most people seem to share common pastimes such as travel, reading and watching Netflix so you can either add a very niche hobby to your list of outside activities or just add some additional information. If you like to travel, share where you prefer to travel and if you like reading then explain what genres you prefer.