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PREPARING YOUR C.V

Your CV is a statement about you. It is the first impression your potential employer will have of you – it is your shop window! It will ultimately make the difference between being called in for interview or rejected for interview.

Employers will be looking to access the relevant information about you as easily as possible. The difference in quality of CVs is vast, so make sure yours is at the right end of the scale.

You must not undersell or oversell yourself, your skills and experience. Your CV must be a true and fair representation of you and your experience and skills. Treat your CV as if it is the only chance you have to make a good first impression.

Your consultant at Noble Legal will be more than happy to advise you on designing your CV.

Generally, however, when writing your CV, you should:

  • Bear in mind the CV will be read in two ways: firstly it will be scanned (for NQ roles, there can be in excess of 100+ applicants); secondly, if the important information is easily accessible (academic record, career history) and of the right standard, it will go in the yes or the maybe pile – it will then be read fully.
  • Keep it concise. Depending on the level of seniority, length should range between 2 and 4 pages. All the information must be there, but avoid repetition or verbosity. Remember you are marketing yourself, so make it ‘punchy’, relevant, succinct and interesting.

  • Use a clear, conventional font (e.g. verdana, trebuchet or arial). Avoid italics, decorative fonts, images or logos. We advise you not to use a photograph of yourself.
  • Write in the 3rd person, not in narrative form, however avoid constant references to yourself, i.e. John did this, John did that… Instead write ‘Drafted agreement for …..’
  • Be concise and factual and not offer opinions or be humorous. Contain only information which adds value and which the reader would want to know.

  • Make sure it is easy to understand, clearly laid out and split into clear sections with headings, such as Personal Details, Qualifications, Career History, Interests, Training Seats and include all contact numbers.

  • Provide full academic background and details of only relevant qualifications; your educational history including all grades except GCSEs, academic achievements and work experience should be listed in reverse chronological order – university degree should come before your school exam results, most recent job before previous jobs. Do not add low paid work experience whilst at school / university.

  • Divide your career history into relevant bullet points. Ensure you demonstrate the depth and breadth of experience you have gained, your involvement and responsibilities, in some cases, obstacles you faced and how you overcame them and of course, the positive result. If you can add specific details such as quantum of transactions/cases and client names (especially of prestigious/blue chip, and/or very high value ££) without compromising confidentiality, i.e. in the public domain, this will help.

  • List any achievements specifically for each employer you’ve worked for. Don’t just summarise your responsibilities. Employers will want to know what you have done, with which employer, at what time. If information is grouped together it is not date sensitive.

  • Highlight any special projects or unusual work you might have done.

  • Use bullet points rather than unnecessarily wordy complete sentences. Avoid large paragraphs – no more than 6 lines. Information must be appealing to the eye and easily digested in ‘bite sized chunks’.

  • Do not leave any gaps as it highly likely you will be questioned about these in an interview. Employers tend to fear the worst when they see an unexplained career gap.

  • Be truthful. Never lie on your CV! There is no point because at interview or even, if you get as far as a job offer and the reference stage, you are likely to be found out. They are very likely to then discover the shortcomings of your knowledge, experience, skills, personal details and/or qualifications.

  • Detail your business development activities – this is relevant at all levels, but certainly more so for senior candidates. Include all aspects of marketing to include practice development; entertaining clients, seminars/webinars, etc. Articles are good, however too many will make you appear too academic, and not so commercial. For partner level roles, business development and management / mentoring experience will also be expected. In most cases, a portable following will be expected. This can be alluded to and described in more detail in a business plan (usually sent after the first interview).

  • Show your interests in full – people are keen to gain insight into your personality.

  • Include full details of visas/work permits, particularly expiry/extension date (if applicable).

  • Check it thoroughly. Run a spell check over it carefully. Double check again to ensure that what you have written makes sense. You could ask a friend or relative to check your CV. Make sure that your CV is accurate. Common errors or typos can occur when providing academic grades. You’d be surprised how many CVs have typos / poor grammar. Even one typo will be looked upon unfavourably.

  • Feel free to ask your Noble Legal consultant for advice on the CV. Sometimes two heads are better than one!

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