With employers receiving record numbers of CV’s, making a strong first impression has never been more important. By clearly and professionally presenting yourself through a well written and constructed CV, you have the best possible chance of securing that all important interview. Below are some general tips which you might find useful;
We advise using a simple, concise format which allows your qualifications and experience to speak for themselves.
- Use a single font throughout the document.
- Make headings clear and consistent.
- Use concise bullet points where appropriate.
- Accurately date all qualifications and employment (explain any gaps).
- Don’t list irrelevant personal information.
- Don’t use coloured/decorative text or borders.
- Don’t use symbols (except for $ sign on transaction list – see below).
- Never include photographs.
- Don’t include narrative about how great you are. Stick to the facts.
Currently, the most recognized CV format is one split into the following four sections;
- Full name
- Email address
- Contact telephone number(s)
- Contact address
- Language Capabilities – please don’t exaggerate your proficiency.
Education and Qualifications
These should be listed in reverse chronological order (most recent first). In most cases this will mean professional qualifications will be first, followed by university and then school information.
- Qualifications – include the month, year and location of any admissions
- University – years, institutions attended, degree(s) attained, final results.
- School – years and names of schools attended. If you went on to complete a degree or any other higher level of education, school results aren’t required. Only exception might be if you received straight A’s or have very recently joined the job market.
We also recommend that you list any awards or scholarships, professional memberships and relevant work related training.
Also in reverse chronological order, this should be the largest section of your CV. Simply stated, employers are trying to ascertain that your past experience will bring added value to your new position and the organization as a whole. The number of candidates interviewed for offshore positions is often fewer than those by onshore companies. This is why we will ask you to forget about the normal 2-3 page limit rule. We ask that you list as much relevant experience as you can in this section, as this will allow prospective employers to understand your total skill set, and feel confident enough about your abilities, to invite you to interview.
In general, allocate more space to recent positions and include the following information;
- Dates – months and years worked from/to.
- Firm/company name.
- Your title.
- Department(s) worked in (if applicable).
- List of duties and responsibilities – highlighting any specific achievements.
- Names of clients – only when they are impressive and you are professionally able to do so.
Very Important – Lawyers are expected to provide detailed transaction or case lists where applicable, outlining;
- Brief details/key points of the transaction (or case name).
- Specific involvement/responsibilities.
- Value of transaction/dispute.
- Names of clients where possible.
This section should consist of only a few lines, listing your main interests and hobbies. Keep in mind where you are applying for when writing these. An employer in the BVI who reads that you regularly visit museums and have a passion for snow skiing will likely question your suitability for the island lifestyle.
The only exception to the four section rule is for those people wishing to list any books or publications they may have written or contributed to. It is recommended you keep this to relevant bodies of work, listing only the names of the publications and years they were published.
Some final points to keep in mind;
- Updating your CV doesn’t necessarily mean only adding your most recent job. As times change, so do the expectations of future employers. You may want to review the format and overall content as well.
- Attention to detail in your CV is considered a key indicator of the attention to detail in your work. Grammar, punctuation and your choice of words and formatting can be just as important as your qualifications and work history. This is particularly relevant in the legal market.
- Listen to our advice. We have close working relationships with your prospective employers and know what they expect to find in a “perfect CV”. We are happy to spend time working with you to achieve the best possible result.