Honestly, there’s no right or wrong way to write a CV so there’s really no need to panic. It can be easily achieved and it doesn’t need to be written by anyone other than you.
Although it may take a little editing and tweaking with each vacancy you apply for ( just simple good practice ) this should never be an extensive or labour-intensive task and can often be done in place of a covering letter… although I do personally prefer and advise you to do both when applying for a favoured position.
I have read so many CVs over my career span as a recruiter. The most successful are always as individual as their owner and rightly so as your CV is a document designed to sell you.
So let’s consider some of the things that can help a candidate to write a successful CV. You’ll find below some of our simple and effective industry insights, techniques, hints and tips for those of you who are in need of a new or improved version of your CV.
Please note that although I have written this guide specifically for legal professionals, it really can be applied to anyone and everyone looking to open doors and create career opportunities for themselves.
Contact Details – Triple check these.
Every recruiter will tell you that a good CV will make the reader sit up and take notice right away and that a great CV will have them call you before they have even finished reading it. That is so long as your contact details are accurate – trust me, we have all been there and there is nothing more frustrating than a great CV and an out-of-date contact telephone number or email address, do not let that be you! Each and every time you click “apply” or submit your CV to a vacancy, do check first to make sure name, address and contact details are all accurately provided.
LinkedIn – Yes, I recommend your Linked In profile be on your CV.
Do make sure your LinkedIn page is well branded, up to date and well connected with recent posts and activity before you choose to profile yourself this way. It can be a huge attractor or detractor within the legal space, where business development is key and therefore so are your networking skills.
An inaccurate, out of date or barely used LinkedIn profile will do more harm than good when you are applying for positions so if you are at all concerned with how well yours reflects you, I recommend you work on this before your CV.
If done well, it’s an ideal way to get ahead of other applicants. Be sure to follow industry specific groups and market leaders to ensure your feed content is always on point and interesting to those you are connected to and by far my biggest tip would be to showcase some personal referrals and recommendations.
Testimonials are highly attractive to hiring managers, so reach out to colleagues and clients who you have worked alongside or done business with to ask that they recommend you for your services. Most people who have received a good service or enjoyed working with you are more than happy to let others know just how great you are and this will present you perfectly and personally to future firms.
First impressions – Make them sit up and take notice.
It is commonly known and well publicised that a hiring manager or recruiter will often make a decision on you within the first 45 seconds of reading your CV. Harsh but true. So first impressions really do count and this is especially true in an employer’s market, when there are more candidates than vacancies… it’s more important than ever to stand out from the crowd.
We do this with a simple personal statement, outlining your expertise, skills, strengths, drive, passion and achievements. Written from the heart and with an honest impression (or as I like to say – sprinkle) of your professional personality. Only then can you truly set yourself apart from the other applications that have landed on the recruiter or hiring manager’s desk.
Your personal profile should be more than a few lines but no more than a punchy paragraph or two depending on your seniority.
Bullet points – Make sure your USPs can’t be missed.
No matter your professional level, from Paralegal to Partner you should take the opportunity to highlight your specific USPs… your own unique selling points.
If these are bullet pointed in black and white they simply can’t be missed, so it’s a great way to sell yourself in a simple, effective and sales pitched format.
This technique will again help you to stand out to employers and recruiters alike. Specific things to note are your training and qualifications, awards and nominations, skills and exposure, career highlights, networking and business development achievements, revenues / fees gained etc.
Your current and previous positions in clear, concise chronological order – this needn’t be dull.
Be sure to write your employment dates in full, we’ve no time for second guessing this information so do not be vague as this can often look like you are trying to cover a period of unemployment.
Please be specific with both your start and end dates in 01/01/21 format and provide your position and job title along with your employer’s name and location. These should all be noted in chronological order, beginning with your most recent position.
This section needn’t be dull. In fact to effectively pitch yourself, it is imperative that you highlight here not only your role and responsibilities but also your technical expertise, soft skills, qualifications gained, billings, business development exposure and key achievements; smartly backing these up with short yet concise examples.
It’s also key to highlight here in what capacity you worked. Such as the support you had in place or what support you provided for others, how many people you managed or how many people you worked alongside, the number of caseloads and clients you cared for, whether you passed work on to others and what you felt your full revenue potential was.
Education and Qualifications – Keep it relevant.
This section of the CV shouldn’t really include anything that is not relevant to the vacancy you are applying for so if you are particularly proud of a yoga or scuba diving related pastime, these are best left for your interests and hobbies.
Note here instead the educational establishments and dates you attended, as well as the qualifications gained.
Interests and Hobbies – Left in or out, it is entirely up to you.
As a recruiter I prefer a CV to include these however, it’s very much personal preference.
The benefit is that it makes your CV even more unique to you and gives the reader a closer insight into your personality.
A good interviewer will use this section to make you feel at ease and so it can help create an ice breaker as well as some interesting conversations whilst also building a rapport with your recruiter or hiring manager at interview stage.
Interests and hobbies are also an indication as to how well you might fit in to a firm’s culture or team so I say go for it, unless you’re really struggling to come up with anything of course.
This section is also an ideal opportunity to note things such as charity, voluntary and community focused experience and/or projects and keep these separate from your employed professional experience above, which should ideally relate more closely to the role you are applying for.
I hope this guide has been helpful to you and you now feel ready to begin penning your CV. Of course, if you would like any further help or for us to cast our eye over your CV you need only ask.