How about we simplify the whole debate? Rather than getting bogged down in the ‘Where do I start?’ scenario, when it comes down to writing your CV, it’s primarily about FORMAT and CONTENT.

The Essential Ingredients

To make sure your CV is actually read by law firms and legal departments, your details should be formatted in the following order:

  1. Personal Details – ie Name, Date of Qualifying, Preferred Area of Law, Preferred location.
  2. Academic subjects and grades should always come before your career history.
  3. Career History should read in chronological order starting with the most recent experience first.
  4. Although weekend or holiday Work Experience is important, this should come after your legal work experience.
  5. Hobbies & Interests should always appear last on your CV.

Using this standardised format will not detract from your CV: it is a tried and tested formula and it works. But what can help make it that bit different so that you stand out from the crowd is what you choose to say in the CV:

The Icing on the Cake

Because format is standardised, recruiting partners look to content to find out about what motivates you and what brought you to them.  Try to add a bit of you in the CV!

  • Include as many interesting examples of work and/or cases you have worked on, for example, include details on how you “motivated/worked” as part of a team, “managed” your caseload or “succeeded” in “marketing” the firm and its services. Detail the ideas you generated which were implemented by the firm/organisation, the “negotiations” you handled or any interesting work you experienced out with your day-to-day responsibilities.
  • Think about the level of professionalism you want to demonstrate and avoid detailing any information that may question this.  Ask yourself if it is relevant to your professional experience and your personality. If it is, keep it in.
  • If adding a bit of you means mentioning any political or religious affiliations, then be prepared to face questions about the ensuing time constraints this association may make on your work commitments: Are you more committed to this than your career?
  • Breaking the CV down into format and content doesn’t make it easier to write, you still need to give it some serious thought.
  • But it will make starting the process less daunting.

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