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We have compiled 10 CV tips and tricks to help you land your dream job. What does your phone, your laptop/computer and your CV all have in common? They all require regular updates!

How should a  legal job search be conducted in the wake of coronavirus? Despite the ongoing uncertainty, planning for the future and considering how to make your professional ambitions a reality should still be a priority.

Continuing technological advancements and shifting priorities have altered the expectations of the CV in the modern recruitment process. The CVs that once used to impress a hiring manager now no longer cut the mustard, therefore, starting a job search can feel overwhelming. You may find yourself asking what do they expect from me? We have carefully devised the answer for you (tailored to law). Read on to find out how law students can boost their CV from the safety of their homes.

1. Biography

Provide your contact details at the top of each page to allow an employer to contact you quickly. Don’t waste space on phrases such as ‘Curriculum Vitae’.

Avoid using bright coloured/ flashy fonts or graphics in a legal CV, always keep it professional. If you wish to include an image of yourself it’s best to include a corporate image of yourself on your CV instead of images taken from social media.

2. Summary

Keep it just that, a concise, professional summary. With limited room to impress, a modern CV must make the most of this section. It should be three to four sentences at most; a brief description which should showcase your most relevant skills and capabilities tailored to the role as well as introducing your legal background.

3. Education 

Detail any professional memberships or qualifications you possess, list your degree, A-levels and GCSEs; when discussing the former, mention the areas of law that you studied while at university and state your dissertation title.

4. Be authentic

Avoid cliché terms such as “I am a people’s person” or “ I often think outside the box”. Listing empty skills often don’t get you anywhere and often point to the contrary. Instead, you should state your accomplishments and where/how you displayed these skills, you may be asked further details about them in the interview stage.

5. Technical skills

Utilise your skills section! This is the perfect place to include specialised skills relevant to the job which gives you an edge over other applicants. Emphasise your technical skills and include any software platforms in which you are proficient. List the skills in bullet point format on the first page of your CV, this will ensure your best skills are among the first things the employer will see.

6. Achievements

Ensure you are being mindful of what achievements you mention. It is vital you include achievements that set you apart from the competition, using specific examples of times when you worked independently as well as part of a team. Proving your dedication and commitment as an employee or a legal professional.

7.  Work history

Include the job title, name of company, nature of work done and duration. A prospective employer can gauge an applicant’s commitment by looking at their work history, in particular the years of service in a company. If you are newly qualified, include details about the practice areas you were involved in during your training contract, especially if the firm you trained with is comparable to the one to which you are applying.

Do not include the reasons you left your previous employment as this more than likely will be discussed during the interview stage. Having said that, be mindful not to include salary information from previous employment unless it is a specific requirement of the prospective employer. Salary negotiations would again take place after.

Although it is not recommended to include the reasons why you left previous employment it is also vital you don’t leave unexplained gaps in your employment history. For e.g., if you took a year out to travel or you took a general break, explain what skills you learnt and incorporate a positive take on it.

8. Short and sweet

A rule of thumb for a legal CV would be 2 pages. Even if you have lots of experience or other achievements it is important to ensure your CV isn’t too wordy. Every word in your CV should highlight your strengths and preferably demonstrate why you are a good fit for the preferred position in a particular law firm. While doing this ensure you incorporate positive language and exhibit a confident tone throughout your CV.

Avoid long sentences and large blocks of text. Often employers do not have much time when reading CVs and they would be looking for key skills that they need for that job role, so avoid being too wordy, keep it short and sweet!

9. Proofread, proofread, proofread!

Finally, proofread your CV and even seek feedback from at least one other person before finalising, just to ensure there are no grammatical errors or typos. After all legal professionals have a very good command of the English language and an eye for detail so be mindful to edit and proofread your CV several times just to make sure!

10. Distribution

Avoid sending a soft copy of one CV to multiple employers. It is very important to tailor your CV for different employers/job applications. It would be horrendous if a CV was sent to the wrong employer or one CV being sent to 10 employers; this often reduces your chances of being considered as it would not show the skills they want. The email/cover letter should state clearly the subject of your contents. This article will also discuss covering letters later on but if you are sending an email do make sure it is polite and professional.

BONUS SEGMENT: How to write an impressive cover letter.

Why are covering letters so important?

Writing a strong cover letter is essential for any law career, as it helps to persuade employers why you should be offered the job. Cover letters should be one page long and should demonstrate your knowledge of the law firm and wider legal sector. Think of it as a mini-interview. It’s important to make it interesting as it gives the employer an insight to who you are as well as creating that initial interest in you. It’s the door opener!

In order to be successful, there is a structure to follow to make sure all areas are covered:

1. Firstly, an opening paragraph: in this you would include a brief summary of the position you wish to apply for to show the employer that you understand what would be expected of you.

2. The second paragraph would entail information about you. You include details about who you are, the stage of career you’re at. You would also explain details about your academic history, work experience, skills and any extra-curricular activities you have taken part in. However, don’t just list everything, make sure you choose the relevant parts of your experience that reflect what the firm is looking for – tailor it. Explain how your qualities can benefit the firm with practical evidence, ensure to use positive language throughout.

3. The third paragraph would consist of you detailing with why you want to work at that firm and what attracted you to them. Make sure you have done your research on the firm – it would be great to include any cases that interest you to showcase your research.

4. Finally, you would mention that you have enclosed your CV and you look forward to hearing from them. Explain when you’d be available for interview and cover any practical issues you’ve been asked to address, such as salary expectations.

We know that the job market has become overwhelming during the pandemic but don’t let that stop you. Follow our steps and you will no doubt produce a stellar CV and cover letter.

If you want to send QC Legal your CV visit our contact page.

Hajra Amin

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