How to Write the Perfect CV

Posted on 19/7/2017 by Katherine Memery

To some extent, your CV is a means to an end, a way of persuading an employer, recruiter or hiring manager to offer you an interview and give you the chance to impress them in person.

There are many ways you can make a positive impact with your CV and improve your chances of being invited to interview.

Presentation

Years of experience of recruiting lawyers have shown us that a CV is more likely to have the desired impact if it is formatted in a particular way and contains specific information.  

Internal recruiters and hiring managers read hundreds of CVs each month. Aim to limit your CV to a two-to-three-sided word document; any longer than this might discourage readers from giving you a shot.

Use a standard font like Arial, Calibri or Helvetica and do away with logos or images. Avoid large chunks of text; concise bullet points are a useful way of highlighting key achievements and experience.

Feel free to use our Realm CV Template here. 

Personal profile

A personal profile is your chance to highlight your key achievements, attributes and experience. It should appear at the beginning of your CV and address the essential criteria within the job description and how you meet these requirements. 

Make sure you state how many years of post-qualified experience you have or your current stage of legal training. Include your caseload and your billings, if applicable.

Be specific 

Tailor the contents of your CV for every position you apply for and every law firm you approach. Discerning hiring managers will be able to spot a generic CV a mile off.

It is only useful to provide specific information about the modules in your degree or the title of your dissertation if they relevant to the role. Explain significant gaps in employment (such as study or maternity leave).

If you’ve only just graduated or are at an early stage of your career and lack direct work experience, don’t worry! Draw on the skills you’ve acquired at university while doing volunteer work or completing personal projects, and think how they have equipped you for your next step. Approach firms directly, either by sending a speculative email or a message on LinkedIn. You never know, they might be willing to give you a chance!

The basics

You may have crafted a compelling personal summary and formatted your CV perfectly, but if you fail to get the basics right, your hard work may have been in vain.

Check your spelling

A CV littered with spelling mistakes and grammatical errors suggests a lack of attention to detail, an essential skill for lawyers. Never entirely rely on spell checker; carefully read through your CV before you send it to anyone. Ask a friend or family member to read through it too – they might spot something you miss or point out where additional information is needed.

Tell the truth

Be truthful about your education, employment history and personal details and never be tempted to embellish your experience. While you might think to tell a white lie or two is harmless, you’ll almost certainly be caught out at interview or at a later stage, resulting in potentially severe consequences for your reputation and career.

Be contactable

Include your contact details at the top of your CV, so employers know how to reach you. Make sure you provide a professional email address and phone number and your LinkedIn handle.

Be mindful of where you’re sending your details

As mentioned in a previous blog, it’s crucial that when you submit your CV to a job board or recruitment agency, you know how it will be used. Only send your details to recruiters you’ve spoken to personally and be mindful of the risks involved in using job boards.

Want to discuss? 

At Realm, we’ll work closely with you to develop your career, providing advice and guidance to help you get to where you want to be.

For a confidential chat, get in touch with us today. Call our legal recruitment consultants on 03300 245 606 or visit our website to see our latest legal vacancies in private client, personal injury, property and family law.

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