How long is a piece of string? I get asked this question almost on a daily basis and hear a lot of different answers once I have given my response.
CV – never longer than 2 pages?
The usual or fairly common response is someone who has been told by a careers adviser when they were 14 that a CV should never be longer than 2 pages, or someone else who’s been told by a friend who is a lawyer and got a job with a good firm that their CV shouldn’t be longer than 1 page.
The correct answer is that for everyone not applying for a training contract or paralegal work and straight out of university is that a CV is as long as it needs to be. In some cases this can be 12 pages, in other cases this can be 1 page.
Our Recommended Length
We normally recommend having a CV that is between about 2 pages and 7 pages long.
If you are applying for training contracts your CV should never be longer than 2 pages unless you have come from a previous career that is directly relevant to a legal career.
If you are a solicitor your CV should not fit onto 2 pages because you should have lots to say and therefore it should fit onto between about 3 and 6 pages. The more senior you are the lengthier the CV.
I have worked with a client a few days ago who had a CV that was 19 pages long. This was because they had included case examples at the end of the CV and so the actual CV was 9 pages long plus examples of cases they had worked on.
This is important because it means that someone can read the comfortably but then if they want further information about actual cases they can go on and explore these further without needing to contact the candidate again.
Most Important Part of a CV
The most important part of a CV is the first third of the first page because this is the part that pops up onto your computer screen or comes out of an envelope and is checked.
There are specific techniques for making sure that your CV is quickly readable and catches the eye, and although you can read all about this on our various websites, blogs, article pages, you could also just cut to the chase and purchase our legal CV writing pack which contains hundreds of examples and templates. And yes – this is a shameless plug!
Jonathan Fagan, Managing Director of Ten Percent Legal Recruitment. Jonathan personally prepares and writes all the CVs for lawyers and law students who use our CV writing services. He has over 15 years’ experience and has worked with clients as diverse as District Judges through to law students. For details please visit our Legal Careers Shop.