I have been a legal recruiter for more than 17 years so it’s fair to say I have seen lots and lots of CVs. I’m staggered that I see so many bad ones; some have pictures, or fancy tables and many have spelling mistakes and grammatical errors.Your CV is very important; it represents you before a prospective employer or recruiter interviews you. It needs to convey not only your achievements to date but also give the reader an idea of your personality. Without a well drafted CV you may not secure the interview at the firm that you really want to get the job at.

Your CV is likely to be a document that interviewers will refer to during your interview; its importance throughout the hiring process should not be underestimated.

So what do I look out for and recommend to candidates?

  • Layout – Keep it simple. Set out your CV in a logical and easy to read format. Your CV should include your personal information (including contact details), a reverse chronology of your professional work experience, your academic results as well as your outside of work interests. I see so many CVs which incorporate text boxes and tables; be aware that many law firms require recruiters to upload CVs via recruitment portals and often tables, columns etc can be compromised.
  • Style – I would suggest against abstract fonts and multi colours. Your CV is a professional document, it’s not a portfolio showing how adept you are creating technical and attractive documents. Think about your audience and err on the side of professionalism rather that creativity.
  • Errors – attention to detail is key and many firms will reject applications if there are spelling, punctuation or grammatical errors. Make sure you proof read your CV before you submit it to a potential employer or recruiter
  • Language – avoid repetition and keep it simple again. Use positive action words to lead bullet points e.g. ‘initiated this, project managed that’. This will add a dynamic feel to your CV and help reinforce the message that you are an upbeat, ‘can-do’ type of candidate. Only your current role should be written in the present tense with your previous roles written in the past tense.
  • Don’t be negative; avoid criticism of past or present employers and colleagues. Keep your CV positive and upbeat.
  • Outside work interests; don’t make them up; you’ll be surprised how many interviewers ask candidates about their hobbies and interests. Keep them brief and to the point and avoid things such as socialising, eating out and shopping – these aren’t hobbies.
  • Keep your CV succinct but ensure that all of the key elements of each role have been detailed. I do not think that a CV needs to be kept to two pages but it should never be more than four pages long.

If you are a lawyer seeking a new legal job in the UK please don’t hesitate to contact MAP Recruitment for a confidential discussion.