Whilst many large law firms now have their own application form where they can ask their own questions, the majority of firms still require a law CV and covering letter.
Everyone knows that getting a job at a law firm is tough, but the situation is made even more difficult by the fact that employers rarely read all of a law CV when they are assessing whether or not to invite a candidate for an interview.
So, what should aspiring solicitors do to maximise their chance of getting a job? Here are our top tips for how you can improve your law CV:
(1) Keep It Quite Short
Have you ever been to a restaurant and looked at a menu and thought: how on earth am I going to decide what to eat when there are ten pages here?
Put yourself in the shoes of the person in HR looking at your law CV. Imagine that they’ve been looking at CVs all day and they’ve been trying to decide who to offer an interview to. If you make your CV easy-to-read, presentable and concise, it will avoid someone thinking: do I really have to read all of this?
Put enough in the law CV so that it sells your skills and achievements but not so much that it puts the person reading it to sleep.
(2) Be Unique
The creative side of our brain makes us think that “unique” means bright colours and crazy font. However, what it actually involves is you asking yourself the question: why should the prospective employer choose me?
The job of a successful trainee and future lawyer is to find solutions to legal problems. However, your future career is, at some point, also going to involve you marketing yourself and your firm to potential clients. A law CV is exactly the same as any marketing document and when you are constructing your bullet points, you should always try to sell your unique personality, skills and experience in a way that will appeal to law firms.
(3) Keep Your Law CV Up-to-date
Most of us only think about our law CV when it comes to applying for a job. Why would we worry about our CV when we already have a job?
The reason why it is important to keep your CV up-to-date is because it is difficult to remember what you did and the skills that you developed when you are writing about it in the future without a record.
A top tip is to update your CV every few months even if you are not looking to move jobs. It will make your life easier to have something ready-to-go when you do want to move rather than having to remember what you did in a job a year and a half ago!
(4) Get a Friend to Read Over It
I’m sure you’re tired of reading about how it’s important to make sure that you keep your law CV free from errors. The truth is that we’re all human and after you’ve read your CV fifty times and think it’s okay, there is still a possibility that there is going to be an error in it. Why does that happen?
The answer is: when we are putting together a sentence, our brain tries to generalise the words that we are writing down because it’s a relatively simple task. The brain then attempts to focus on the more complex task of trying to understand the actual concept we are trying to convey. As a result, we often miss things like typos. Our brain gets accustomed to seeing the words on the page whereas our friends are looking at it for the first time so can pick up errors that we might not see.
(5) Add Some Figures
Law firms love to mention the big deals that they have worked on. You only have to look at the home page of large law firms to see that there is a “recent deals” section or “latest news” section. There will usually be a quote by the Partner acting on the matter and maybe a few kind words from the client about how the team provided excellent advice!
Just like law firms use figures in their marketing, you should use figures in your own marketing. If you’ve helped the Law Society at your university to raise £3,000, make sure that you mention the figure in your law CV too. Figures bring sentences to life and anything that brings the CV to life will make it more interesting to read.