banner image

Cut The Chaff: Why Knowing What To Leave OFF Your CV Is As Important As What To Include

  • February 20, 2024

As one of the most important documents in the first stage of a legal candidate’s job search (alongside the LinkedIn profile), the CV is arguably an inexhaustible topic of discussion for hirers and legal professionals alike, particularly where relevance, structure and formatting are concerned. And although these are still very much pertinent, an equally crucial – and often overlooked – aspect of CV crafting is the skill of knowing what has no place on it, and what can be detrimental to its effectiveness.  

Spending time reviewing and improving your CV is undoubtedly time well spent, although you should never just cram it with additional points if they aren’t going to add value to any application or to enhance your profile. 

Ensuring there is the right amount of information on the document to demonstrate suitability for the role is important, but it’s a fine balance to ensure that it is to the point and not full of distractions or waffle – especially when you consider that hiring managers and recruiters take only a few seconds to scan the document and make a decision to progress, or not. 

As such, it’s always worth considering what information serves little to no purpose in your CV and worse, is potentially squandering your prospects altogether…  

Less is More 

Starting with the often-overlooked but opening information, things like your age, marital status, and arguably personal hobbies should not be in your CV as they not only hold little relevance to the position (and thus, little value to a hirer ) but they can potentially prove detrimental to your efforts, as in having them present they waste the precious time your CV has been afforded to catch a hiring manager’s eye, and can introduce an unconscious bias towards applicants of certain age groups or demographic.  

If you do want to add in a short section about interests outside of work, it’s usually best to give this no more than a few lines – you can always leave talking about this personal element in your profile to the interview itself. These should also fit in with the professional persona you wish to portray = so talking about how you love going out with your friends on an evening, or a vanilla ‘I like doing exercise’ are taking up precious real estate on the page that can be much better-utilised. 

Cull the Obvious 

Similarly, any notices informing employers that ‘references are available upon request’ are unnecessary and should be taken out. This is already implied through your job application itself and so is an obvious fact that doesn’t need reiterating in your CV. The same thing applies to any ‘salary negotiable’ statements – this is not new or unexpected information to employers and is needlessly taking up space. Ultimately, any generalist information that doesn’t communicate what the hiring firm will be looking for in your CV shouldn’t be included and failure to keep your CV clutter-free can give off the impression that little effort has gone into tailoring it for the role, and that it is being used as a catch-all document for multiple job applications. 

If you’re wondering why that might be that off-putting to recruiting firms, it is because it is one of the tell-tale signs of a spray-and-pray job application approach. And whether intentional or not, it is a surefire way to get yours binned. 

Avoid the Jobseeker Jargon Trap 

Pertinent to this is the common mistake of peppering a CV with all sorts of jargon and cliches, which is just as damaging to a candidate’s prospects if not more. When writing a CV to present as compelling a narrative of your professional journey as possible, the use of certain phrases or buzzwords to ‘doll up’ one’s profile can be a tempting move (and it may be the case that these have slipped into your vernacular simply due to ignorance); however, is an all-too-familiar ploy to employers, and an eyesore they will readily want to avoid, especially if such statements or phrases aren’t backed up by any quantifiable evidence.  

The language you use to highlight your skills and suitability is every bit as important as the information it is trying to convey and requires just as much thought and consideration. As such, a sense check of where your CV leans more on generic statements instead of measurable results, and how it can be better-written is essential if you’re aiming to craft one that catches the eye. 

With the widespread adoption of the likes of ChatGPT and other AI tools, it’s also worth considering how such tools can help (or hinder) in this regard. 

If you do choose to utilise an AI tool to support, it is a well-known no-no to write the whole document from scratch, simply because it increases the likelihood of fabricated details being added to your draft. A better approach would be to do it section by section, beginning with your personal statement, then your experience & responsibilities, then your achievements, and so on. This not only helps to avoid having false information but it also makes it easier to spot it as you work through your draft section by section, should it still be added in, and allows you to better format your CV while doing so. 

Click here for more information on how to avoid the jobseeker jargon trap. 

Filter Out the Chaff 

This applies to any other kind of passive language present in your CV or anything speculative, such as extensive lists of job roles and responsibilities without any relevant accomplishments. A career is not something that just happened to you and should never be treated as such by the language you use to describe why you are a good fit for the role.  

Your CV should be filled with examples where you actively take credit for your work and achievements to quantify your value as a potential hire, and where this is absent it signals a lack of confidence in your suitability as a candidate to hirers, which can seriously hurt your chances of employment. Remember that firms want to ensure their investment in a candidate is going to yield encouraging results, and if your CV doesn’t give them the impression that you are worth that investment, they will waste no time with time consuming interview process. 

Finally, 

When it comes to the communication of information through any media, what is said is so often what comprises the subject of discussion, when it is really how such information is structured and conveyed and – at times, what is omitted – that tends to make the difference in how it is processed and interpreted.  

This is what underpins the skill of CV crafting and where the ones that top the pile shine – no matter the role, specialism or sector in question. When every second counts with your prospects on the line, your CV needs to sell you in as clear and compelling a manner as possible – a feat we as recruiters are very much aware can be tricky at times, even for the most experienced of legal professionals. That’s why at Clayton Legal, our expertise goes beyond  the often perceived ‘transactional’ process of matching CVs to open roles. 

We are every bit as committed to empowering the legal professionals we work with to present themselves as the first choice hire, whether that be at the initial screening or interview stages. If your next career move seems to be very much on the horizon but needs clarity with regard to the way forward, we are here to help. Give us a call on 01772 259 121 or contact us here. 

Share This Post

banner image

The Evolution Of The CV – And Its Place In The Digital Age

In today’s competitive job market, it’s more important than ever for candidate profiles to stand out. With digital channels such as LinkedIn (often seen as an online CV) and video platforms becoming the norm, it’s quite normal to consider where the traditional CV lies in all of this. Is crafting a 2-4 page document still worth your time and effort as a jobseeker?

In short – absolutely.

The CV (Curriculum Vitae) continues to plays a crucial role in the job application process. It serves as a summary of an individual’s skills, qualifications, and experiences, showcasing their suitability for a particular role. But have you ever wondered how this document came to be and how it has evolved over time?

Here we look at the history of the CV, from its humble beginnings to the digital age, and explore its impact on the job search process – and it’s future.

The Birth of the CV

The origins of the CV can be traced back to the Renaissance era, specifically to the genius mind of Leonardo Da Vinci. In 1482, Da Vinci, in search of work, crafted a letter to the Duke of Milan, outlining his skills and experiences in various fields such as engineering, sculpture, and bridge-building. This letter is often considered to be the first official CV on record. Although Da Vinci did not secure the job he sought, his innovative approach to presenting his qualifications set a precedent for future job seekers.

The Middle Ages: Portfolios and Personal Profiles

While the concept of a formal CV did not exist during the Middle Ages, there were instances of artists and inventors creating portfolios to showcase their work. These portfolios, often referred to as sketchbooks, contained designs, sketches, and examples of their craftsmanship. One notable example is Villard de Honnecourt’s portfolio, which dates back to the 13th Century and includes architectural drawings and mechanical designs. These portfolios served as a visual representation of the artist’s capabilities and can be seen as precursors to the modern-day CV.

The 20th Century: Newspapers and the Rise of the Modern CV

In the early 20th century, job applications predominantly relied on newspaper advertisements. Applicants would submit handwritten or typed resumes, which included personal details such as age, height, weight, and marital status. These characteristics, as you would imagine, were often used as discriminatory factors in the hiring process. However, as societal norms progressed, legislation was implemented to address these biases. The inclusion of hobbies and interests in resumes became popular in the 1960s, allowing job seekers to showcase their personality and interests beyond their professional qualifications.

The Internet Age: Online Job Boards and the Power of LinkedIn

With the advent of the Internet, job searching underwent a significant transformation. Online job boards, such as Monster.com, emerged in the 1990s, providing a digital platform for job seekers to submit their resumes and connect with potential employers. The rise of social media further revolutionized the job search process, with LinkedIn leading the way as a professional networking platform. Launched in 2003, LinkedIn allowed individuals to create online profiles, highlighting their skills, experiences, and professional achievements. It became a valuable resource for recruiters and job seekers alike, providing opportunities for networking and job discovery.

The Future of the CV: Multimedia Resumes and Personal Branding

As technology continues to advance, the CV is likely to undergo further changes in the future. Multimedia CVs, incorporating elements such as videos, infographics, and interactive content, have gained traction in recent years. These dynamic platforms offer job seekers a unique opportunity to showcase their skills and creativity in a visually engaging format. Additionally, personal branding has become increasingly important in the job search process. Job seekers are encouraged to cultivate an online presence through social media platforms, personal websites, and blogs, allowing them to showcase their expertise and stand out from the competition.

The Role of the CV in the Modern Job Application Process

Whatever the design and format, the CV has become an essential tool for both job seekers and employers in the modern job application process. It serves as a snapshot of an individual’s qualifications and experiences, providing employers with valuable insights into a candidate’s suitability for a particular role. However, the evolution of the CV has brought about new challenges and considerations. Job seekers must adapt to changing trends, ensuring that their CVs align with current expectations and industry standards. Employers, on the other hand, must navigate through a vast pool of applicants, leveraging technology and innovative recruitment strategies to identify the most qualified candidates.

Changing Candidates’ Approach to Job Searching

The evolution of the CV has also influenced how candidates approach the job search process. Job seekers are now more proactive in building their personal brand and online presence, recognising the importance of networking and showcasing their skills beyond the confines of a traditional CV. They are leveraging social media platforms, professional networking sites, and online portfolios to engage with potential employers and demonstrate their expertise. Additionally, the accessibility of online job boards and digital application processes has made job searching more convenient and efficient, allowing candidates to explore a wider range of opportunities.

The Impact of Technology on the CV

Technology has played a significant role in shaping the evolution of the CV. The shift from paper-based CVs to digital formats has streamlined the application process, making it easier for candidates to submit their credentials and for employers to review applications. Applicant Tracking Systems (ATS) have also become prevalent, enabling employers to efficiently screen and manage large volumes of documents. However, it is important for job seekers to optimize their CVs for ATS compatibility by using relevant keywords and formatting techniques.

Other AI-focused platforms that can help jobseekers appear on the market almost weekly – and whilst it becomes hard to see what is truly useful and what is a distraction, there is certainly more in development that can help to elevate your profile.

The Importance of Continuous Learning and Adaptation

As the job market continues to evolve, it is crucial for both job seekers and employers to stay abreast of industry trends and adapt their strategies accordingly. Job seekers should invest in continuous learning and skills development to remain competitive in a rapidly changing landscape. Employers, on the other hand, must embrace innovative recruitment practices, leveraging technology and data-driven insights to identify the best talent. The CV, as a reflection of an individual’s qualifications and experiences, will continue to be a fundamental tool in the job search process, but its form and presentation may continue to evolve.

Conclusion

The evolution of the CV from its humble beginnings to the digital age exemplifies the dynamic nature of the job search process. Leonardo Da Vinci’s letter to the Duke of Milan marked the birth of the CV, setting the stage for centuries of innovation and adaptation. From portfolios in the Middle Ages to the rise of online job boards and professional networking sites, technology has continually shaped the way job seekers present themselves and connect with potential employers. As we look to the future, multimedia CVs and personal branding will likely play an even greater role in the job search process. However, amidst these changes, the fundamental purpose of the CV remains the same – to showcase one’s qualifications, experiences, and potential to prospective employers.

We have a number of resources and guides about what to include in your CVs (and indeed, what to leave off) – CLICK HERE TO ACCESS THOSE.

Whether printed and taken in to an interview, uploaded to a role profile online, or sent as a PDF speculatively to a potential employer, the 2-3 page document certainly has to work hard to confidently ‘sell’ your suitability for the job in question. That’s why it’s also worth enlisting the help of a specialist legal recruiter to also represent you in the market. A good recruiter will take the time to get to know you – your skills and strengths, and how to leverage these when talking to a hiring manager or Partner. They will also help to bring your 2-D document to life, talking to the hiring firms about your suitability, how they envisage you fit in with the culture, and the driving force behind your move.

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.

If you are building your legal team or perhaps have had your fingers burnt by a bad hire in the past, we can help. Call us on 01772 259 121 or email us here.

Share This Post

Posted By

Joel Okoye

Digital Marketing Apprentice

banner image

The 7-Step Action Plan for Legal Jobseekers

  • August 29, 2023

Embarking on a job search can be an exciting yet daunting journey, not least for legal professionals that may be entering the job market for the first time in years. The process itself is marked by numerous crucial decisions and considerations, whether this is your first legal role after qualification, or a move well into your career.

And, whilst it may be tempting to jump into the process with both feet, it’s always worth taking a small step back, and approach the task at hand with a strategic mindset.

The critical factor here is doing the work needed to get organised and implement your ‘project new role’ plan – even if time is short.

To help kickstart the process, we have outlined an 8-step roadmap, focusing on key actions to take at each stage that can help to make it both easier and significantly enhance your prospects from the get-go.

Step 1: Consider what you want from your new role

Before beginning your job search, it’s important to sit down and have a think about what exactly you’re looking for. You might be instinctively looking for a role that is similar to your current one, or you might have had a change of heart and are looking at a role in a different practice area, or area of specialism. Regardless of what your initial preference might be, it’s important that you take some time to re-evaluate your career progress, goals, how close you are to achieving them and what steps you can take to get you there. Have your priorities changed since you last considered looking for work? If so, what are those boxes your new role should absolutely be ticking career and personal-wise? Having a clear idea of what to look for in your job search will help to make it a much more fruitful venture. 

Step 2: Enlist the help of a specialist

Once you’re set on the direction and purpose of your search, the next logical step is to decide whether to go it alone and spend time researching opportunities in the market, your region, and your practice area and apply to vacancies advertised.

The alternative is to enlist the help of a reputable legal recruitment specialist who will search the market on your behalf, and present you with (often exclusive) roles that are designed to be the absolute best ‘fit’ for you and your requirements from your next employer.

A legal specialist will be particularly helpful if you are aiming to carry out your job search with discretion while currently employed. Not only will they help you do the  above but they can also ensure you are fully informed and in the know about the culture, vision, and values of the firms that you have in mind as well as provide guidance on how best to approach the other parts of the hiring process, including interview preparation, how to handle your notice period, and leave on good terms with your current employer. 

Step 3: Get your documentation in order  

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.

Unless you are searching for your very first legal role, you will need to make some time to update any existing or old documents, adding in your most recent experience and any new skills you’ve picked up (that are relevant for the role you want of course).

When listing previous roles, don’t just describe your responsibilities. Rather use it as an opportunity to showcase results you produced, and can produce for prospective employers by detailing your achievements in the role you’re describing. 

What you want to do here is take this opportunity to convince a hiring manager you’re the right fit for the role in question, and avoid the common mistake of using your CV as a catch-all document for every potential role. If you want to write a killer CV that stands out to prospective employers, it must be relevant to them. Research the firm, look over the job description and make a note of all the important qualities and experiences they value and then, tailor your CV accordingly.  

Step 4: Include a Cover Letter 

At Clayton Legal, we’ve long been advocates of the humble cover letter to create standout for our legal candidates and provide that golden opportunity to add personality and interest in the role, over and above a CV.

Without a cover letter, your job application is just another sheet of paper, or another PDF file on the computer screen – one often lacking in personality and excitement. It is also much more likely to be skimmed over and discarded; worse, not read at all.

However, that’s not to say that any old cover letter will do. Crafting a compelling cover letter seems to be somewhat of a dying art in recent times, and whilst it has certainly evolved, it is still a worthwhile document to have in your job-seeking armoury.

Whilst we have a number of top tips when it comes to cover letter etiquette, in short, keep it short. Keep it readable. Keep it relevant to the job offer. Get someone to check it. Above all, put some serious effort into making sure it’s as good as it possibly can be, as a lack of effort will rarely open the door to an interview.

Step 5: Carry out your due diligence

If you are considering moving into a different practice area, it goes without saying that you need to ensure you do your homework. Find out as much as you can about your chosen area of specialism by thorough research and attending relevant webinars and workshops, and consider what evidence there is to show that a different practice area can actually provide what you’re looking for. Networking can prove incredibly useful to this effect. Leverage professional networks, both online and offline, to connect with individuals that possess a background & experience you could greatly benefit from, and consider joining trade associations and special interest groups to stay informed on what opportunities that switching may or may not provide you. 

If you’re moving into a different kind of role – managerial perhaps, look at a range of job profiles in detail and prepare to demonstrate your suitability and knowledge of what will be involved. Linking this back to your own CV here is key.

Step 6: Get your digital footprint in order 

If you don’t already as a legal professional, ensure that you harness the power of LinkedIn in your job search as it will not only help to expand your network but also help to build a winning personal brand with a presence compelling enough to catch the eye of employers. This is what makes your LinkedIn profile one of the most important assets in your search. As a platform that provides immense value for professional relationships, learning how to utilise it can facilitate eventual life-long connections with potential mentors and employers. 

If you already have a strong online presence (be that on LinkedIn or in a personal capacity on other platforms) you should also make some time to check your digital footprint. Are there any posts or content that you wouldn’t want a potential employer to see? Consider your privacy settings in the very least and give everything a thorough review with fresh eyes (profile pictures, bios etc).

Step 7: Prepare, prepare, prepare

Landing a new role is all about confidence. The more confident you are in yourself, the better chance you have of securing a new position when you get to the all-important interview stage.

This is where preparation is a non-negotiable.

Practising and preparing for potential and/or upcoming interviews equips you with not only the skills, but also the readiness to go into the interview room and effectively communicate your suitability to employers. Begin looking at the most common questions candidates are asked in interviews and draft your answers to match what they’ll be looking for in your responses.

On that note, it is worth practising adjusting your body language and facial expressions as those can often impact the first impression you’re trying to give more than what you actually say, considering it is something hiring managers will also pay particular attention to. There are also common mistakes to avoid in your preparation too, which we delve into here 

In Conclusion

Entering the job market can be daunting – whether at the start of your career, or part-way through (when you will have been through this process before). And, even if you find yourself back here after many years of employment, don’t assume the steps to success are the same as they always were.

The market continues to evolve for jobseekers and hirers alike – be that from a tech perspective, or the general landscape impacting decisions throughout the process.

That’s where enlisting the help of a specialist recruiter will undoubtedly pay dividends in the long run as they can help to map out your plan of attack, support with your documentation, and really help to elevate your profile in front of your next employer. And, if you’re still a little step behind and just want to weigh up your options, many will be more than happy to chat through market conditions and the opportunities out there at the moment.

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.

If you are building your legal team or looking for your next career move, we can help. Call us on 01772 259 121 or email us here.

Share This Post

banner image

Jobseeker Jargon: Are You Guilty?

  • July 25, 2023

When the time comes in your legal career to think about a move to pastures new, the steps involved to kickstart the process are generally conventional and familiar to most.

The first step, of course, is to decide whether to go it alone and spend time researching opportunities in the market, your region, and your practice area and apply to vacancies advertised.

The alternative is to enlist the help of a reputable legal recruitment specialist who will search the market on your behalf, and present you with (often exclusive) roles that are designed to be the absolute best ‘fit’ for you and your requirements from your next employer.

Either way, there are usually a number of steps you yourself will need to take to ensure you are prepped and ready to apply for roles that pique your interest.

 

Designing a CV with Clout

It goes without saying that the most important document in your job-seeking armoury will be your CV – although a cover letter and possibly a video pitch may also be required depending on the role in question and the expectations of the hiring firm.

CVs are not a new concept. Far from it.

This document has been connecting qualified candidates with their ideal roles for centuries. In fact, according to The National Careers Service, the first curriculum vitae emerged in 1482 – written by a certain Leonardo Da Vinci when he applied for a local painting job.

The nature, style, and general role of the CV has changed since then, however. Whilst connections and status were crucial components of the CVs of yesteryear, these days there is more focus on skills, relevant experience, and demonstrable results that highlight capability.

Whilst much continues to be written about the usefulness of this document, for now at least, they remain a vital platform to market yourself as the right candidate for the role.

 

Mastering the Basics

A hiring manager, Partner, or HR professional will often skim-read a CV before making a snap ‘go/no-go’ decision about whether to progress to the next stage. This means the basic information needs to pop and jump out of the page.

The overriding objective should be to demonstrate suitability for the role in question, and ideally, the document should flex if you’re applying to more than one at a time – ensuing each is tailored to the specifics.

There are many guides as to what to include on your CV, but in our experience (of nearly 25 years and counting), the basic elements include:

  1. Up-to-date contact information
  2. Clear, concise formatting and layout
  3. Accurate grammar and spelling – a non-negotiable
  4. Selling points – achievements, relevance, USPs, experience (if it is relevant!)
  5. Facts and evidence
  6. Personality – what are your interests, passions, values?

 

Putting Pen To Paper

There are no two ways about it. Crafting a well-honed CV is a skill, and whilst you may be the most qualified and relevant individual in the pile of applications, failure to ‘sell’ yourself adequately may mean you are overlooked.

The Internet is saturated with ‘how-to’ guides, layout templates, and more recently, tools that utilise AI to write your CV for you (although the jury is still out on the effectiveness of this).

But mastering the basics is only the first part of the task in hand. You need to pay careful attention to the language you use as you highlight your skills and relevance – being mindful of cliches, hyperbole, and baseless language that actually could hinder your progress in the long run.

 

Cut The Cliches

The copy on your CV has to work hard to sell ‘you’, your relevant skills and experience, and give an initial indication of what you are like as a person and potential employee.

It can be tempting to fall into the trap of peppering your document with well-known cliches – in fact, you may not be aware that the phrases that spring to mind are even cliches in the first place. But taking time to weed out these overused (and often baseless) phrases may get your document to the top of the pile.

Here are the top 7 overused phrases that we come across, that you may wish to rethink (and suggestions of when, how, and why they need a little more care and attention)

  1. Hardworking and motivated: Your CV should have detail throughout that highlights specific accomplishments, experiences, and contributions that show your dedication and work ethic. This could be successful cases or settlements you have secured for clients, billable hours and productivity metrics, or even additional certification and training you have undertaken to enhance your skills and knowledge.

 

  1. Excellent communication skills: Again, consider how to showcase your communication abilities through specific achievements or experiences. Have you been a keynote speaker at a firm event for example, or run an internal forum? Are you involved in pitching for new business, or act as spokesperson for your current firm with the media? All are demonstrable examples that showcase the skill in question.

 

  1. Team player: Undeniably, employers will want to hire individuals that collaborate and work well with others – but dropping this statement on with little substantiation is pretty meaningless. Again, look for ways to bring this to life with concrete instances of teamwork. Have you worked as a team on a particularly complex legal case? Do you undertake any pro bono initiatives, or are part of a professional ‘group’ outside of the day job that involves working with others? All are great examples of how teamwork is pervasive in a law firm.

 

  1. Detail-oriented: Whatever your practice area specialism, this skill is crucial in the legal profession as it can significantly impact the outcome of cases, the accuracy of legal documents, and the overall quality of legal services provided to clients, Highlighting instances where your attention to detail made a difference is key – whether that work is in document review, part of an M&A transaction, or in compliance or regulatory matters.

 

  1. Results-driven: This phrase is most certainly over-used (usually with no examples of said ‘results’) yet there are other variances that can also demonstrate the same point. ‘Achievement-oriented’, ‘goals focused’, and ‘outcome-driven’ are more specific and impactful. Are you able to talk about case-management here, or strategic planning utilised to get the best possible result for your client and firm? Examples, again, are key.

 

  1. Works well under pressure: Legal professionals often encounter high-pressure situations, and the ability to work effectively in such conditions is an attractive trait to a future employer. Instead of just dropping this phrase on with no explanation is a big no-no however. Instead, discuss how you handled challenging situations and tight deadlines; your involvement in high-profile cases, or how you adapted to unexpected developments and had to adjust your strategy.

 

  1. Exceptional organisational skills: Most roles in a law firm require some level of organisation, whether that’s managing your own case files, a team of other legal professionals, or preparing for a trial. By using specific examples, especially those that are relevant to the role you are applying for, you provide concrete evidence of your capabilities and enhance the effectiveness of your CV and profile.

 

In Conclusion

Crafting an impressive CV requires going beyond generic statements and cliches and instead presenting a compelling narrative of your professional journey. By showcasing specific, relevant, and quantifiable evidence of your skills and accomplishments, you can create a CV that stands out and captures the attention of potential employers or clients.

If you have enlisted the help of a specialist legal recruiter for your job search, you will often find that your consultant will help to review your CV and role applications to ensure they stay on track, and work hard to move you further along in the process. Of course, the other benefit here is that the recruiter will further help to demonstrate your suitability verbally to those responsible for hiring – enhancing your profile far beyond a 2-3 page printed document.

And finally, even if some of the highlighted statements do creep in (even verbally as you move to interview stage) remember to always use concrete examples and measurable outcomes to demonstrate your abilities, skill, and above all, why YOU are the firm’s next hire.

 

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.

 

Share This Post

banner image

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.

Share This Post

banner image

Your Legal CV: Why It’s Still Critical to Your Success This Year

Did you know that Leonardo Da Vinci, in 1482, wrote the first ‘official’ CV? It was addressed to the Duke of Milan in the hope of gaining a specific painting ‘gig’.

Da Vinci was well known for his intelligence and consequently focused the content of his CV on the project in question. He highlighted his prowess and results in using certain painting techniques he knew the Duke required for the painting in his ‘CV’.

Fact: Tailoring your CV to the role in question has always been critical.

I am sure Leonardo would have been astounded to discover that this humble communication piece would continue to be the start of the recruitment process over five hundred and forty years later.

Though candidates are taking to TikTok and other social channels to promote their personal brand, a CV continues to be the first communication piece your legal hiring manager requests from the team here at Clayton Legal.

So, what are the key elements you need to consider as you craft your CV to stand out to the law firm you want to work for?

After over twenty years of reading good, average, and downright diabolical legal CVs, we have a few suggestions to create a CV that profiles you as the legal candidate to take to interview.

Let’s start with the basics hiring managers look for on the first skim through.

CV Basics

Before diving into specific content and structure, let’s confirm some CV basics. This is the initial document your new employer will see alongside a cover letter should you choose to use one; more about that in another post.

It does not need to be more than a couple of pages long; brevity and getting to the point are key. Your hiring manager will explore more about you and your experience related to your CV in the interview. Remember to ask your legal recruitment consultant for help on this.

Ensure your full current contact details are visible and correct; name in bold at the top of your CV, followed by your full address, email and mobile phone number.

It is common for candidates to find their old CV on a hard drive and use this without checking that the details and phone numbers are still accurate. There isn’t a requirement for a photograph in the UK, nor should you add your date of birth or marital status. When it comes to pronouns, she/her, he/him, the decision is yours.

If you have a disability, it is not necessary to add this though it can be helpful for both your legal recruitment consultant and hiring manager to know when they are setting up an interview.

Create a new email address purely for job hunting. There is nothing worse than an overflowing personal inbox where email communication gets lost, and you end up missing vital emails from your recruitment consultant.

Though your name may be taken on Gmail or Outlook.com, adding private or personal or a number to your name should work.

For example, Angelasmithprivate@gmail.com looks professional and is easy for a recruitment consultant to remember. Avoid adding your birth year, for instance, AngelaSmith1977, as this could set up age bias. If you were born on the 27th of the month, AngelaSmith27 would be fine.

This leads to formatting, fonts, and grammar. The more challenging something is to read, the less people concentrate, and key convincers about you and your ability to excel in the role you add to your CV can get missed.

Use a professional font, nothing less than 10 point and avoid any non-professional style; you are applying to a law firm. It is easy to think that standing out in this way is a good idea. It isn’t -leave that to the answers you give in the interview.

Have clear headings for sections, use spacing and bullet points and keep a consistent formatting theme in the body of your CV.

Read through your CV to check for context and content and that it reads well. Typos, spelling, and grammar can trip up the best of us, so treble-check everything and get a friend or significant other to read over what you have written.

CV Content

As Da Vinci worked out, tailoring your CV to the job you are applying for is critical, which you can do throughout each section I have highlighted below.

As a start, add a personal statement. This is a concise summary of four or five lines that summarises you, your work history, and your main achievements.

Your Personal Statement

Be specific in your work title; for example, add your legal subvertical and avoid jargon. In the legal profession, years of experience post qualification are critical to add here. Refer to any main achievements, and where possible, make these relevant to the job description as you now start to tailor the CV for the role in question.

Finally, give a couple of examples of what you can bring to the role.

Work Experience

When it comes to work experience, list your current position first and then work backwards. Add the title of the role, the firm in question, how long you were there and your main responsibilities. Then list the key results you delivered and align these to the job description. Talk to your legal recruitment consultant, who will be able to help you pull out what the firm in question is looking for.

Highlight Work Gaps

As you add the list of roles and firms where you have worked, highlight any gaps you have had and why.

Be transparent; the world is a very different place to what it was, and taking time off to look after our own mental health or family members, new and old, happens. Hiring managers in the legal world, as you might expect, are naturally predisposed to look for detail, and if they can’t identify what you were doing between 2011 and 2012, they will be left wondering what other details are missing.

I am sure you can answer the question well in an interview, but remember this is a screening stage where the hiring manager will likely read your CV in isolation.

Education and Qualifications

When it comes to education and qualifications, use a similar format with the most recent qualification first. State the type, result, the dates and the university or college. A brief summary of the areas of law you studied will be relevant here, as would any legal memberships you are a part of.

Relevant Skills

When it comes to skills, list anything relevant to the role here. This might be your new business development skills, a specific software package you can use or languages if they are relevant to the role, geography and the population the firm serves.

Interests and Activities

This area isn’t necessary on legal CVs. Adding an interest in reading or travel won’t really add anything to the conversation. However, if you are involved in activities that relate to your role and profile you as a team player or potential leader, then, of course, add that here.

Summary

When it comes to writing a legal CV, the devil is in the detail, and this is where the help of your legal recruitment consultant is vital.

We have shared a basic flow here, and it is up to you to fill in the gaps relevant to the specific role in question.

If you are ready for your next legal move, check out a selection of our current legal vacancies here and then upload your current CV here. Our team are based across the UK, and you can find all the relevant phone numbers here.

 

Download Our Guide Here – How To Develop Your Legal CV

Share This Post

Posted By

Lynn Sedgwick

Managing Director