How to Draft a Superior CV - Part 2
Updated: Feb 14
In part 1, we discussed the areas you should consider covering when drafting your CV. Below, we set out some further considerations to make sure that you get the right content and tone into your CV.
1. Template for the interview.
Whilst preparing for an interview is a whole different ball game, the CV you draft will, to some extent be the template for the interview. Be sure that you really can talk confidently and expertly about everything on your CV. Don't get caught out on old jobs or old deals. You should be able to talk for a good few minutes on every bullet point, so don't put something down that you can't back up.
2. Ignore the rule of 1 or 2 pages.
There is a myth when it comes to CV drafting that it should only be 1 or 2 pages. The UK and London Legal market does not subscribe to this. The more detail you put on the CV the better. We can always chop it down if it needs it. As a rule of thumb, you should aim to create between 2-4 pages. If you go over that, don't worry. If you are more junior i.e. a newly qualified solicitor or in the early years of your career, then make sure your training contract and current experience is sufficiently detailed. More experienced lawyers can pick and choose the relevant deals or cases they want to showcase.
3. Don't be afraid to have a couple of versions.
We do find that for those lawyers who have unusual backgrounds or fall into more than one category (i.e. do both corporate and IP for example) that it is sometimes worth drafting two separate versions of your CV. Each version can then focus more specifically on either corporate or IP. Of course, it depends on the role that you are applying for. We can talk you through this.
4. Tailor it to the particular role.
If there is a job spec, then it is worth tailoring your CV to make sure that you highlight you have the relevant and required skills and experience outlined in the specification.
5. Remember to highlight soft skills.
The experience section of your CV is going to be key to whether you get the role but it is also worth highlighting that you have good Microsoft Word skills or that you know your way around a time recording system. However, this should be a small section and not the first thing that the partner or HR professional reads.
6. Assertive and positive language.
As is the case with the interview, where possible you should use positive and assertive language in your CV. Be upbeat and ensure that you demonstrate that you were a lead on a particular deal or that you were responsible for drafting a key document. Be succinct and to the point.
7. Don't forget to put down your interests.
HR professionals and Partners will want to know that you have interests and skills outside the office. It makes you human. Whilst not for everyone, outdoor pursuits and interests are always a good way of demonstrating a healthy and active lifestyle. If possible, avoid passive hobbies or certainly limit them.
8. Business development and marketing initiatives.
The modern day lawyer is expected to be a lot of things - technically gifted, entrepreneurial, commercially-minded, natural business developer, networker and team player. The business development skill is important because it demonstrates that one day you will be able to bring business into the firm. It shows that you get how a partner is expected to build a practice. If you have spent time presenting, writing, blogging, networking, speaking at seminars or wining and dining clients then you should ensure that you mention this on your CV.
9. We will put the CV into house style but you are responsible for the content.
We will rely on you to ensure that the specifics of your cases or transactions are properly explained and accurate. We can question things and make sure that they read correctly but ultimately, you are responsible for the content so ensure that you make the most of it.
10. Partner points.
Partner CVs are generally similar to associates except that they should outline the basics of your following at or near the top of the CV and where appropriate they should show clients and basic relationships. You will have to draft a business plan but the CV should give an initial indication of your experience and your following and should be treated as the opening document.
It is always worth stating who your referees are going to be. It is usual to highlight a partner or HR professional from your current firm and your previous firm (if there is one). It is standard for references to be taken up at the end of a job application process, so the referees you give will not be contacted until after you have resigned.
I hope that you found this content helpful. If you have any specific questions please contact us on the details provided below. Alternatively, please share with anyone you know who is currently in the process of updating their CV.
Please contact Peter on firstname.lastname@example.org or 07834 436775 to find out more.