Whether you are looking to apply for a training contract, pupillage or alternative legal career, your CV is a critical part of the application process that needs to make an impact.
Law firms and chambers frequently receive thousands of graduate applications – so how can you get a head start on your peers? Here are five top tips for aspiring law graduates to make sure that your CV stacks up:
1. Be concise
First impressions count, and so your CV needs to be well-written and tailored. As a rule of thumb, law graduate CVs should not exceed one page in length and should contain your academic achievements, legal and other work experience, extra-curricular activities, personal qualities and interests.
Most law firms and chambers will consider your CV in conjunction with a covering letter and/or competency-based responses as part of an application form. Always check the exact requirements for each application as you don’t want to fail at the very first hurdle!
2. Tailor it
Competition is fierce, and you need to stand out. If the organisation that you are applying for is the first step towards your dream career, then your CV must articulate that you are the perfect match – incorporating your technical abilities, practical experience, cultural fit and future potential!
3. Pitch you
A short professional profile at the top of your CV is essential. Summarise what sets you apart from your competition. This is the first paragraph that your potential employer will read to learn about you on your CV, so it needs to make an immediate impact.
If you do have legal work experience, then it is worth briefly mentioning why this gives you the edge over other applicants, both in terms of commercial awareness and grounding in any of the foundation skills you will need to succeed in law.
In the absence of hands-on work experience, refer to interest areas that showcase your transferable skills, as well as core qualities – can you draw on your legal research, communication and people-facing abilities?
4. Showcase achievements
High academic attainment is key for law graduate CVs, so it’s important to illustrate your best grades, wherever possible, and to set out your academic results within an Education section after your CV profile.
Having work experience under your belt before graduating is almost certainly a must, particularly if you do not have a good 2:1 from a well-regarded university. 2019 research figures indicate that 76.5% of trainees at the leading 130+ firms graduated from Oxbridge and Russell Group universities.
Maximise your Professional Experience section: highlight your most significant achievements and tailor it to your application – how do each of your experiences demonstrate that you will make an excellent forward-thinking lawyer or barrister?
5. Personal Interests
Recruiters want to see genuine interests outside of your studies. Sporting, pro-bono and leisure pursuits are useful tools to not only highlight some of your softer skills but they also bridge gaps in your CV.
Remember, the recruiter is ultimately looking for a candidate who can deliver and will energise team members as well as the standard requirements for intellectual capability, resilience and emotional intelligence.
Need more advice?
Why not contact us about our legal graduate CV, application and coaching packages – we have a team of experts to help you every step of the way.