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The Components of a Strong CV

The Components of a Strong CV

written by Frankie Krivinskas

The components of a strong CV

A CV is often the first detail that HR and partners at a law firm will review in relation to a potential new hire. Personality and fit is, of course, always key, but in order to get in front of the partners, you need to tick the ‘on paper’ boxes first. As a result, taking the time to draft a thorough and targeted CV should never be underestimated.

With Private Practice Associate recruitment in the City in mind, here are some of my top tips for CV drafting:

 

  • Write in the first (not the third) person. You are writing about your experience to date and so the words need to come from your perspective, not as if someone else has written them for you.

  • Avoid flashy fonts, formatting and profile photos – these waste valuable space and are ultimately unnecessary.

  • A personal statement at the start of your CV can be a fantastic way to neatly summarise your experience to date, but be sure to keep the sentences factual, relevant, and brief. Do reference qualifications, awards, or notable cases you’ve worked on. Do not reference soft skills or generic (and often subjective) character traits, such as organisation, time management, being hard-working etc.

  • Include specific grades within the ‘Education’ section - not doing so could raise a query for HR and partners as to why they have been omitted. If your grades suffered due to mitigating circumstances, include an asterisk to say so and be prepared to discuss further with your recruiter and/or the partners in interview.

  • When listing your experience, try to sign-post different areas of expertise under separate sub-headings, in order that the reader can easily gauge the split of your work to date. For example, an Employment Associate might categorise into ‘Litigation’, ‘Advisory’ and ‘Transactional’, while a Disputes Associate might categorise into ‘Litigation’, ‘Investigations’, and ‘Arbitration’.

  • When writing about your experience, include details of the matter (to the extent you can, given client confidentiality), in order that the reader can understand the type of deal / case you were involved in, but also include an overview of your personal contribution. This is a great way to highlight your responsibilities and demonstrate your capabilities (i.e. which documents or pleadings did you draft / were you the client’s first point of contact/what research did you do?).

 

  • Be aware of the role you are applying for and consider whether it is worth amending your CV to better align with the job description. For example, if a Disputes role is focused on Litigation (rather than Arbitration), include your Litigation experience first and make an effort to go into greater detail for each of those cases / bullet points listed.

 

  • A ‘Hobbies and Interests’ section won’t be the silver bullet that secures you the job, but it is a nice addition to the end of a CV and can often highlight common ground between you and the interviewers, thus serving as a good talking point.

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