5 Steps To Crafting Your Standout Legal CV
- January 5, 2023
Even in a world where 91% of all employers now use social media as part of their hiring process, the CV/Resume is still one of the most important tools any candidate has.
It is the first thing most employers will look at before even thinking about inviting someone to an interview. It’s also your best chance to immediately introduce your education and experience. Used correctly, your CV can improve your chances of getting the ideal job.
Unfortunately, many legal candidates struggle to convey the right information in their CV/Resume and cover letters. Some candidates are still using old-fashioned, outdated, or complicated formats which are not relevant to the jobs they apply for.
Here are the 5 steps you can follow to ensure your CV stands out to any hiring manager.
Step 1: Make it Relevant
One of the biggest mistakes legal professionals make, is attempting to use their CV/Resume as a catch-all document for every potential role. However, this document is not just a list of your educational credentials and accomplishments. It is your opportunity to convince a hiring manager that you’re the right person for their specific position.
Start by researching the firm and making a list of all the important traits, experiences, and characteristics they value. Your CV should be tailored to the specific job description for the role you’re applying for. If you know a firm values innovation and intuition, use your CV to highlight how you have shown these traits in previous roles.
Remember, only around 2% of candidates make it to the job interview stage when they go it alone without the help of a specialist legal recruitment/staffing/search company. Working with your consultant/recruiter to determine exactly what you should include on each CV/Resume will boost your chances of success.
Step 2: Keep it Short and Sweet
Some studies suggest that up to 100 people will apply for any given role, which means even in a candidate-driven legal market, you’ll still have a lot of competition to go up against.
When sorting through countless applications, employers do not want to waste time on lengthy, complex CVs. They are more likely to spend their time looking at applications that get straight to the point, highlighting the information an employer wants to know about their candidates.
With this in mind, edit your CV ruthlessly before you submit it. The best CVs are no more than two pages long, and some can be as short as a single page. Remove any information which might not be specific to a role or might be considered outdated and make sure your most essential information is located towards the top of the page. Your core skills and experiences should not be hidden on page two but placed directly under your personal profile.
Step 3: List Accomplishments, Not Just Prior Roles
When sorting through applications for a job role, most legal employers are not only looking for evidence you have experience in the industry. They want to see examples of your previous accomplishments and understand why your background is valuable to their organisation.
When you are listing your prior experiences on your CV, use concrete numbers, statistics, and clear information to demonstrate what you’ve done in the past. Do not just mention day-to-day job activities, tell your future employer a story about how you’ve evolved in your career.
For instance, if one of the core responsibilities of your new role will involve analyzing data or conducting research, draw attention to how you did this in a previous role to boost a firm’s efficiency by X% or reduce costs by X%.
Step 4: Get the Structure and Formatting Right
A complicated, confusing CV will automatically place your name at the bottom of the pile for potential hires. Make sure you get the structure and formatting right. Around 99% of companies now use automatic scanning technology to sort through CVs in search of specific keywords and phrases. This means you need to ensure you choose a file format that’s suitable for these tools.
It’s also worth structuring your CV in a way that helps draw attention to the most valuable information first. Here are some of the sections you should include:
- Personal Details: Countless legal recruiters receive CVs that miss out key details like a name, email address, and contact number. These are crucial for ensuring a potential employer can reach out to you.
- Personal statement: In your personal statement, highlight why you’re the ideal person for the specific role you’re applying for. Keep this section short and focus on things like previous accomplishments and experiences which make you right for the
- Work experience: Highlight all of the relevant work experience which could demonstrate your ability to thrive in this specific role. Include the name of the organisation you worked for, and what you achieved during your time there.
- Achievements: Outside of your work experience section, you should highlight other relevant achievements with quantifiable evidence. For instance, you might write about the time you managed a team when working for a charity and helped to increase donations by X%.
- Education: Only list education relevant to the job. You don’t need to go all the way back to your first school credentials. Focus on the specific accreditations your employer is looking for. You can usually find requests for specific educational credentials on the job listing.
Step 5: Double-Check Before You Send
Even in a world filled with spell-checkers for your digital documents, it’s easy to make a mistake with your CV. Ensure you have the right country setting for your spell checker and take the time to read through your application a few times before you send it off.
Working with a legal recruitment consultant during this stage can be particularly helpful, as they can pinpoint any areas you might need to expand on to improve your chances of getting the role. While they won’t necessarily spell-check your CV for you, they can sometimes share some tips on how to make your application stand out.
It’s also worth double-checking the job listing to see if the firm has any specific requests for how you submit the application. Some law firms prefer files to be sent in a specific format. It’s important to show you can follow instructions carefully.
Even in today’s digital world, overlooking the importance of the humble CV can be detrimental to your chances of success. As it is the best tool you have as a legal professional to highlight your skills and accomplishments to potential employers, it should be given adequate attention and crafted well enough to make your application compelling. You can also take it a step further and enhance your CV with a great LinkedIn profile filled with endorsements about your skills. More information on creating a winning profile can be found here:
About Clayton Legal
Clayton Legal has been partnering with law firms across the country since 1999 and during that time has built up an enviable reputation for trust and reliability. We have made over 5,000 placements from partners to legal executives, solicitors to paralegals and legal IT personnel to practice managers.
Click here to speak to one of our experienced Legal specialists or call 01772 259121 for more information on how our exceptional recruitment experience can help your career aspirations.