Tips for writing a legal CV
14th January 2019
Wowing a panel of judges with a great CV can be the opening you need to land your dream legal job, so you need to make it’s as inspiring and engaging as possible. Companies see thousands of CVs for every job they advertise and in a fast-paced industry such as the law sector, you need to make sure you stand out from the crowd! Decisions can be made very quickly and there are many factors that can persuade a decision, so making sure you keep them interested from the get-go is crucial. It’s easier to think of your CV as your very own tool that helps you sell yourself and your skills, communicating your experience in the best way possible. We think the following tips should help you ace your way into an in-house lawyer job in no time!
A Layout can play a factor in the success of your CV, it needs to be easy and quick to read, uncluttered and eye-catching. Of course, there are many layout templates on the web, but tailoring it to suit the information you are including is a great idea. Separate the sections, add clear and concise headings to each section and avoid using long and rambling sentences.
We spoke to Tom from All About Law who gave us some great CV tips: “Target your CV specifically to the job and firm to which you’re applying. Generic CVs do not stand out. Keep the information relevant, be clear and concise, avoid waffling, as this can put the reader off. Check your presentation! Many employers will screen CVs on spelling and grammatical errors; too many and your CV may not pass the first round.”
Dependant on the job you’re applying for, there are various sections that we recommend including in your CV:
Personal Statement – A brief summary of you as a person, your skills, why you’re looking for a job within the law sector and your future aspirations.
Job Summary – A summary of your previous employment, what skills you learnt within those roles and the time periods you spent within the companies.
Qualifications – Mark down any notable qualifications. All your GCSE’S, A-Levels and any Degrees you may have, as well as any other qualifications that may be relevant.
Skills – You may want to note down any specific skills or attributes that you think may be beneficial to the job role.
Hobbies and Interests – If they’re relevant to the job you’re applying for then make sure you include your hobbies and interests. If you write a blog or love reading, visit law seminars and debates then make sure you note these down, they’re great attributes to have.
References – It’s important to include any notable references for the company to contact if needed.
Show Off Your Achievements
Any additional achievements that you can talk about may set you apart from other candidates. Spell out your managerial skills, team-work, communication and any account management skills you may have – they are all skills that can put you above another great candidate.
Tailor Your CV
“Try to keep your CV two sides of A4 or under with the most relevant work experience available. If you are applying for a range of different roles it might be handy to have a main CV but also alter that CV slightly to fit different sectors and have them ready for when you are applying. Another top tip when creating your CV, is to break up sections into columns, this makes it look cleaner and easier to read.” Says Anjali from Graduate Jobs.
Each job you apply for is totally different and it’s important to tailor your CV to reflect this. If you are applying for several jobs at one time, it’s worth writing out a couple of CVs’ that are targeted at various different sectors – this way you can send them out in a quicker fashion. Make sure you keep in mind who you’re sending the CV to, the brand name and what type of organisation they are, finding this out first will give you a head start before the interview process and lets them know you’ve done your research.
Total Jobs agree that tailoring your CV can have great benefits: “If you have worked as a lawyer or paralegal before, lead with your experiences. If you are a Law graduate or convert, lead with your qualifications. If your Law school was especially prestigious, consider leading with your education even if you have gained a few years’ experience in the industry. Find out as much as you can about each job you apply for, the firm and the kinds of cases you would be working on. Tailor your CV to showcase the relevant skills and achievements that would help you excel in that specific type of litigation. If you helped litigate a £300m case or have a strong command of family law say so and explain why.”
Jazz Up Your Interests
Some people consider discarding their interests and hobbies section from their CV altogether because they can often look uninspiring and dull. It doesn’t take a lot of work to make your interests work for you and provide the employer with a window into what sort of person you are. Rather than creating a list, expand on your points and add comments about why you enjoy them.
Interests are a great way of showcasing your employability. Anything that shows evidence of leadership, teamwork and organisation skills are positive in an employer’s eyes.
Total Jobs also said, "Include work experience outside of the legal sector – as long as it highlights transferable skills or impressive achievements.”
State Your Objectives
Don’t be afraid to set your sights high, professionals love to see charisma and drive. Ambition really isn’t a bad thing. Setting expectations of what you want the job to provide you gives the employer an idea of where you want to progress within the company, what sort of job role would suit you and how you will fit into the business. Add a small paragraph into your CV that states this, don’t be afraid to be ambitious.
Write a Cover Letter
“Always send a cover letter. This should be one side of A4, explaining why you are applying for the job and what skills and qualities make you a suitable applicant.” Says Tom.
Adding a cover letter is a great way of telling the employer who you are, what job you’re applying for and why they want you. It’s also a great platform for showcasing your writing abilities, highlighting your skills and strengths and all around making a great impression.
If you want to find out more about the interview process within the law sector and some top tips to help you ace your application then read our other blog post Tips for landing your dream lawyer job.