A stellar CV is your passport to the world of dreams and reality; as a job-seeker, you must keep in mind that your CV should entice the employer to want to know more about you. And of course, there’s no one right way of doing a CV, you’re the best judge of how to structure the CV, and present yourself.
- Always avoid a prose-heavy structure in order to make your CV more pleasing on the eye – and be consistent with grammar and punctuation.
- Use sub-heads and bullet points – anything that makes it easier for the reader.
- Aim to keep your CV limited to two sides of A4 pages but do not exceed 3 pages.
Have a look at this Model CV to get idea about the components and structure –
(Harvard Law School style)
A few useful tips
1. Be smart and consistent on choosing headings carefully
Separating your experience into different categories – such as legal, voluntary and extra-curricular – makes your CV easier to read. Do not use the heading of work experience as ‘Relevant work experience’ – that suggests to the reader that you think the rest of your experience is irrelevant.
2. Using work experience on Law to show motivation for a career in Law…
Demonstrate that you’ve done your research and know what makes a career at the firm/ organization (where you’re applying) right for you. Precisely describe what you’ve done in the past and pull out how it’s shaped you now. Employers want to see a strong sense of motivation for a career in law sector. Taking part in internships at different NGOs, attending open court sessions and taking part in mini-pupillages at Law chambers are all great opportunities to work out. Illustrate each experience with two or three bullet points and be clear about the personal impact you’ve had on each situation
3. Don’t forget to mention part-time jobs/ Volunteering to demonstrate your skills
Active involvement in voluntary work, pro bono or part time work can also demonstrate your ability to handle substantial responsibility alongside your studies, in addition to helping you to develop important teamwork and leadership skills. Illustrate each experience with two or three bullet points and be clear about the personal impact you’ve had on each situation
Be precise about the impact you made – the STAR approach
Use strong, active verbs to briefly describe any improvements/ changes you’ve made where you worked. Using the STAR approach always helps, where you can describe the Situation, the Task, the Action you took and the Result that followed.
4. Draft each application as if it is the only one you are doing
It is unnecessary to apply to 20 employers, rather make 4 or 5 targeted applications with proper attention. Invest a significant amount of time on each application.
5. Be smart in filling out the ‘interests’ section
Think about the competencies or qualifications the organization/ firm is looking for: for instance, if the rest of your CV is lacking evidence of teamwork, make sure you demonstrate your involvement with any teams or committees in this section. If genuine issues (like illness) have reduced your free time to get involved in extra-curricular activities, make sure you declare your that in your cover letter or application.
6. Let your CV stand out among the thousand others
Keep in mind, most Law students applying for jobs have a very similar background. So you must try to get some alternative experiences that make you stand out from the crowd on your CV. For example, experience of hiking/ mountaineering or any sports involvement shows the stamina of the person to work long days at a law firm/ organization if needed. Leadership and managerial experiences help you to create the impression to take charge of any assignment.
7. Always use a professional tone
Professionalism is essential to the legal sector and you can show just how clearly you understand this through your language and your approach to applications. Creativity and aesthetics are great, but sadly it doesn’t help much in Law and Justice sector. Focus more on a professional tone and avoid using humor or informal words in your CV.
8. Focus and Highlight on what you have to offer the Employer
Concentrate on what you have to offer, not on what your CV/background/education have or lacks. It often comes down to confidence. There’s a general assumption that candidates need to be captain of a university team or society, or have a first class degree to get a better job/ placement with a top-level employer; which is not always the case. With plenty of visible motivation, a solid range of skills and experience – you’re in with a reasonable chance to land any great job.
9. Pay close attention to the details
Around 80% of candidates don’t get past the paper application stage so you need to make sure you don’t fall at the first hurdle unnecessarily due to grammatical or spelling errors – remember that Lawyers or Law Professionals need excellent written communication skills and the quality of providing careful attention to detail is a must. Sometimes asking a third person – either a friend, family member or university careers adviser to check over your CV and covering letter before sending it off is greatly beneficial to spot the silly mistakes.
Bottom line, express yourself – do not try to impress others. A combination of honesty, creativity and uniqueness in your CV can make a big difference.
And as an inspiration, have a look at this ONE PAGE resume of Elon Musk, Founder and CEO of Tesla and SpaceX –