We asked Tom Brooks, Senior Recruitment Consultant on our Legal, P&I and Insurance desk for his advice to Solicitors looking for a new role in the industry. In the first of a three-part series, we ask for any hints and tips on writing a CV. Take it away Tom!
So, you qualified and have been with the same firm for the best part of a decade. The dream job has come up and you’re interested in making a move but haven’t written a CV since those days applying for Training Contracts. So where do you begin, and what is important? And why do you even need a CV in the first place when the market knows who you are?
Let’s start by addressing the questions I am asked more frequently:
The market knows me, do I even need a CV?
I’m afraid so. The market may know youbut that doesn’t mean they know about you.
My LinkedIn profile is good enough surely?
LinkedIn is a great way to promote yourself and your professional identity, but it does not (usually) provide the comprehensive summary of your skills and your experiences to date like a CV does. Think of it like your LinkedIn is the synopsis of your experience and the CV is the story.
And remember – it is still important to make sure LI matches your CV in terms of the timeline, especially dates!
How much detail do I need to include?
Simply put, as much as possible please! List case examples in bullet points. Don’t list every single one but certainly do mention the higher profile ones or the ones that have specific relevance to the job you are applying for. E.g if you are applying for a personal injury-focused role, then highlight personal injury cases in your CV.
Including achievements, both professional and personal, is a brilliant way to make your CV stand out. Hobbies as well – hobbies are one of the parts of the CV that make you personable and unique.
Any additional language skills you have are vital to include, as well as the extent to which you speak it e.g., working proficiency, conversational etc.
No need to include personal details such as marriage status, date of birth or a photo.
Do include any published pieces of work.
I am a qualified Solicitor, do I need to show my prior education too?
I currently have two in-house roles that require 2:1 or above at degree level and strong A-level results. Some I have worked on even go as far as to specify the exact degree needed, even if someone is UK-qualified. So, it is important to include all your education.
Another thing to include is any additional training you have completed alongside your day job. E.g. MBA’s, PhDs etc. Any key seminars and training events you have been to are useful to show both for the fact you have gained that extra training, but it also shows a commitment to personal and professional growth and development.
How long should my CV be?
Ideally a CV will be around two pages in length. However, it is often the case that it is not possible to fit all the required information in that space so please don’t worry if goes on to three or even four pages, provided the content included is relevant and of value to the prospective employer.
Key things to remember.
- Qualifications / education first. Then career in reverse chronological order, starting with your current role.
- Something that is commonly overlooked is to state your year of qualification as a Solicitor, ideally under the education section of your CV or in the opening summary section. Whilst the completion date of your Training Contract will indicate this, sometimes HR professionals or Line Managers sift through several CVs, so having key information like this easy to read is vital.
- Ensure your dates are accurate. If you qualified in 2010, make sure your CV states 2010 – prospective employers will check this for accuracy.
- Pay attention to detail – spelling, grammar etc.
- Keep introductions short but informative. Start by describing yourself factually e.g. “A 10PQE Solicitor with extensive experience in dry shipping and commodities disputes.”
- Be prepared to adapt a CV depending on the role you are applying for. Target it for the intended recipient.
- Don’t be shy about writing about your achievements and hobbies.
I appreciate that it can be daunting to write a CV or even talk about your own achievements, so should you need any further advice or pointers, then please get in touch either by email, [email protected] or call the office +44 1702 480142. You can also connect with me via LinkedIn https://www.linkedin.com/in/tom-brooks-b08096b5/
This is the first of a three-part series and stay tuned for the following articles will also consider the interview process and negotiating a job offer.