It is that time of year again – is it just me or does it come around sooner each year? – when many people are taking a long hard look at their life and career. Stock is being taken and you can’t move for new leaves are being turned over in personal and professional lives.
Anyone who knows me will tell you that I am not the best person to offer diet advice, particularly tips to reduce alcohol intake, but I am pretty good on career advice and the first couple of months of any year is always busy for us as people seek advice on whether there might be a patch of greener grass out there somewhere. Once their own personal nirvana has been identified the next step is to draft a CV which, despite predictions to the contrary for several years now, is still the main tool in starting a job application process. Most firms also see it as part of their assessment. After all they do not have high hopes for a lawyer who cannot draft a concise and relevant document. The problem for many more senior lawyers is that they just have too much awesomeness to fit into a concise document so here are a few tips:
- Give the reader some credit
The person reading it is likely to be a lawyer working in the same field so they do not need to be walked through every aspect of your experience. Edited highlights are likely to be enough. Also remember they are likely to be busy so they may have switched off by the 7th, 8th and 9th pages regardless of how fascinating the content.
- Keep it relevant
Although you may have held the long jump record at high school it is not likely to be the make or break fact that sways a potential employer. However, if you are still competing at a high level and have maintained that discipline over a number of years, that is probably worth including.
The role you were in when you started in law is not as relevant as your current position so a few lines on the first role and half a page or more on your current role is a much better balance.
Use examples of matters you have worked on and your role in each, rather than exhaustively listing the skills and experience gained. This is a way of conveying a lot of information in just a line or two. And examples should be just that – a few of your most interesting/impressive matters to give a flavour of what you have done. This has the added bonus of helping to direct the questions in any subsequent interview!
- Check for repetition
It is easy to find yourself repeating…um…yourself. Possibly the easiest way to cull content.
As a rule you should be able to get even the most stellar career achievements on paper in 3 or 4 pages. If it is more than that you should have a good, hard look at it and, of course, you are welcome to ask your recruiter to take their trusty red pen to it!