Long gone are the days when someone stayed with the same company for a whole career and at any given time over 50% of New Zealand workers will have been in their current job for less than 18 months. This is partly due to the overall trend for more contract work and flexible working, but also applies to the traditionally more conservative legal profession.
It has certainly become the norm for junior lawyers to make their first move at 2-3 years PQE, and sometimes before that. It may be a move overseas, but reasons for a local move tend to be that it is simply time for a change and the need to move on from an environment where you feel you are still considered the baby of the team which is holding your development back.
A recurring issue for those seeking that second job is the quality of the CV they present. More often than not it is simply their graduate CV with an additional paragraph on their current role. This results in a focus on academic and social activities when the focus now needs to be on work experience. Of course redrafting your CV is not the activity anyone looks forward to at the weekend but it is worth spending the time to get the bones right because this becomes the version you can tweak and amend throughout the rest of your career.
A few tips would include:
- Make sure that the focus is on your work experience as this becomes the most important thing for the employer. A couple of lines will not suffice. It should account for at least one third of the text.
- Use examples where you can to give a good flavour of your level of responsibility. It also saves you from endless lists of basic legal skills and puts things in context. It is so much more interesting to read and gives you a chance to showcase your written style and drafting skills.
- Try to keep it to two pages – it gives you room to add to it as the years go by.
- Always include your academic transcript with an application. For better or worse those grades will follow you for some time yet!
- Any additional post-qualification training becomes more important than school achievements.
At McLeod Duminy we are happy to help with advice on drafting your CV and have some general tips we can send through. We find that when we have spent time talking through your experience it is obvious what needs to be included.
As your graduate role turns you from student to lawyer with the basics, that second job sets the foundations for the rest of your career so it really is worth the investment of time to redraft your CV from scratch.