CV advice and tips
There is no substitute for a professionally presented CV. This document creates an image in the prospective employer’s mind of the type of person you are. The aim is to present all relevant career and personal information in as logical a format as is possible.
The entire document should be in a standard business font and, as a rule of thumb, not exceed 2-3 pages. Avoid over-elaboration with formatting, shading, boxing and special effects. Remember the person reading your CV may have a great many to get through in order to shortlist for interview so keep it uncluttered and make it easy to read by using bullet points.
Whilst this is a very personal document there are a few standard guidelines to follow.
- Start with personal details, address and contact numbers.
- If you wish to include a paragraph outlining your general competencies and aims this should follow.
- Next detail your work history beginning with your current or most recent position and outlining your duties, responsibilities, work undertaken, job title and accurate dates for each role.
- Educational/professional qualifications including dates, where studied and grades.
- Next list all professional memberships, clubs, awards, achievements, interests and hobbies.
- Finally details of professional and personal referees.
Our consultants are always happy to advise on or produce your CV in a standard format at your request.
A confident, well prepared and professionally presented candidate is far more likely to get the job than someone who is none of these things. Our consultants will always fully discuss your upcoming interview making particular reference to the firm, its aims and plans, the role and what the hiring firm want to achieve and the interviewers and their background.
Generally there are a number of good interview guidelines that we would recommend that individuals are aware of as follows:
Pre interview preparation
The more you know about the firm, the position and what the firm is looking for the better. Ask to be sent brochures on the department you are looking to join, the firm itself and if appropriate a formal job description. Most firms now have comprehensive websites detailing this information and providing profiles of the partners.Check the archives of the various legal publications, The Lawyer, Legal Business, LSG etc, to see if the firm has been in the press during the course of the last 12 months. Also check out the various business information web sites which now provide a wealth of up to date information on recent transactional matters.
Know your CV inside out. If something appears on your CV it is an invitation to ask you about it. If your interview has been arranged by a consultant make sure you get a copy of the CV they submitted on your behalf.
At the interview
Arrive 10-15 minutes before the interview time. This allows you to relax and gives you the opportunity to read any press releases or brochures held in reception.
Pay great attention to your appearance, wear conservative black/grey business suit.
Greet with a firm handshake, good eye contact and a smile, and remember names.
Answer questions directly and honestly.
Take an interest in the firm and show enthusiasm for the role.
Be prepared to answer questions such as “What are your strengths and weaknesses?”, “Where do you see yourself in 5 years time?”, “How would your friends describe you?”, and “What is your greatest achievement to date?” This list is endless but it is advised that you discuss typical interview questions with your consultant.
You will always be given the opportunity to ask questions. Use that opportunity to ask intelligent and relevant questions - often the questions you ask shed some light on your ability as a candidate and also the extent to which you have absorbed what has been said during the course of the interview. Do not over rehearse your own questions and accept that the answers to some of them may come out in the course of the interview anyway.
Where possible be positive about the firm you want to join rather than being negative about the firm you are looking to leave.
Salary is obviously an important issue but it is wise to let the interviewer raise the question of remuneration. You don't want money to come across as the sole reason for your move.
Finally always remember to thank the firm for taking the time to see you and find out what the next stage in the process is.
After the interview
A career move is always a big decision. You need to be sure that it is the right one. If, after the interview, you have any further questions do not be afraid to go back to your consultant. It will give you a chance to provide welcome feedback on the firm and allow you to gather your thoughts and plan the next stage.
If the process is moving to offer stage many firms will arrange a "social" so you can meet other members of the team in which you will work. If they do not do this, don't be afraid to ask if this is possible. After all you will be working very closely with these people for the foreseeable future and the social is often the only chance you will get to meet the 'troops' rather than the more senior members of the department. Remember, this may be informal but it is still an integral part of the selection process.