Eight things you should include on your qualified law CV
According to CareerBuilder.com, hiring managers receive around 75 CVs per posted position, and spend about six seconds deciding whether or not to proceed with the applicant. If you want to pass that test, you’ll need to have solid qualifications along with a well-formatted CV that will highlight them.
Here’s the sections you should consider including:
Personal Details/Contact Information
Your name, physical address, email address and phone number should be in this section at the top of your CV. Things that shouldn’t be included: your age, date of birth, gender, marital status, religious preference, Social Security number (if you’re applying for a job in the US), your current business contact information (unless you want employers calling you at work) and an objective. If you’re applying for the job, your objective is obvious, and anything else you might put there belongs in the next section – your profile.
It’s traditional to lead off with a short and concise personal statement or career summary that’s written in third person to give prospective employers an overview of your CV. Three or four sentences detailing your personal qualities, skills and experience specifically related to the position you’re applying for should suffice. Since this section is essentially your first impression, it should be engaging enough to encourage the recruiter to keep reading.
Education and Training
This information should be listed in reverse order, with your current or most recent experience first. Even if a qualification isn’t completed, you should still list it here. Avoid being wordy and long-winded. Generally, a succinct format is best, such as:
Dates from – to, Name of institution, Name of programme
The details you provide need to be extremely accurate since it’s likely that they will be verified.
Legal Work Experience
Your relevant work experience should be presented in reverse order, most recent job first. Only your current job should be written in present tense; all former positions need to be detailed in past tense. Try not to just list routine job duties and instead provide details about the contributions you made to the company and the work environment to help the recruiter understand the degree of responsibility you held at that particular job.
Non-Legal Work Experience
If you choose to include unrelated work experience on your CV, make sure to focus on the type of skills you performed that are transferrable to the type of law environment in which you want to work. Use the same format as you utilised in the legal work experience section, and provide details of what you did, the skills you developed and the contribution you made to the environment.
The main idea behind this section is to tell people what you’ve achieved, not just recite a list of things you’ve done. Anyone looking to hire a lawyer is going to know the basic job skills they possess, so make sure that you aren’t just telling people things that they already know. Instead, tell them about things you achieved in previous roles and how you met or exceeded the requirements.
This section is the subject of debate by many, some who believe it belongs in a CV and others who don’t think this type of information is necessary or relevant. But your hobbies and interests can give potential employers insight about your life and who you are as a person, so if you include this section, take the time to make sure that it shows an important part of your character or demonstrates a skill related somehow to your career ambitions, or preferably both.
Another hotly debated area, there are generally three schools of thought regarding whether or not to include a reference section: 1) You can include full names and contact details of two references – one academic, one business-related, 2) Instead of providing names and contact information for your references, write “references available upon request” in this section. 3) Skip the section entirely. If your potential employer wants to contact your references, they’ll ask you for them.
Your qualified law CV is your foot in the door to a potential job. Done well, it can not only help you get this job, but launch your legal career as well.