CV Review – Commercial Paralegal with Experience
in Careers Advice, CV Writing, Training Contracts, Pupillage and Work Experience

CV Review – Commercial Paralegal with Experience

CV-Review-Paralegal-with-Experience

Length of CV

First thing to say is that don’t feel you have to restrict the length of your CV to one or 2 pages. Although this used to be the norm when we used printed copies, this is unusual these days as CVs are sent electronically. I would expect someone at your stage to have a CV around 3 pages long. Your CV should become progressively longer as you go up the career ladder. CVs of 5 or 6 pages are quite common these days for senior solicitors.

First impression:

Nicely laid out with a good use of bold, headings and capital letters to highlight and divide the different section. Your use of bullet points is effective. However, tying in to what I mentioned above I think you have reduced the font size to fit everything on one page. It is too small and makes is really difficult to read so please make the font bigger.

Personal details:

We are seeing more and more CVs with a link to candidates LinkedIn profile so if have one worth adding on. Just adds an extra smidge of professionalism and makes you look social media savvy (even if you aren’t like me!)

I would put your location on (even if you just put Herts) if applying for UK posts. Otherwise firms can get a bit twitchy as don’t know where you are based.

Personal Profile:

Conventional to have a short personal profile section after your personal details. This is 2 or 3 sentences to say what you are (i.e whether paralegal or solicitor), what fields of law you have experience in and what role you are looking for/future ambition. Don’t need any more than that really. Keep it objective. We see a lot of CVs using subjective language things like “an ambitious, team player with excellent communications skills” but I would advise using phrases like this. Anyone can say things like this but doesn’t mean it is true. Save subjective statements for interview where you can back them up with evidence.

Education:

Conventionally this should be the next section on your CV so before your work experience section.

This section is mostly fine. What about adding in your LLB degree dissertation title if interesting/relevant.

Even though you have a degree I would still put your GCSEs and A Levels on. Don’t’ need to list every subject. Something like “9 GCSEs grade A to B inc Maths and English plus 3 A Levels grade A*A B” for example would be fine.

Work Experience section:

Good to see that you have clearly listed name of firm, your title of your role, location and start and finish dates.

I would be careful calling yourself a legal consultant. It isn’t wrong but usually a legal consultant would indicate someone who is a qualified solicitor, qualified to give legal advice. Better to call yourself an In-House Paralegal to avoid any confusion.

For in-house roles often a good idea to put in a line or 2 to say what the company do/what sector they are in.

For private practice roles can be good to indicate size of firm in terms of number of solicitors and also what areas of law they specialise in.

Also, [x] are a Legal 500 firm and definitely worth indicating this on your CV.

Make sure that is very clear what area of law you were working in rather than a person reading the CV having to work it out from reading  what you did for each role. Remember, that recruiters/potential employees tend not to read a CV word for word but skim though them especially if a lot of applicants applying for same role. Need to bear this in mind and give as much clarity as you can so we can see at a glance what you were and what area of law you worked in.

Otherwise your actual level of detail you have included isn’t bad at all. I would try and incorporate some more facts and figures if you can: average number of caseload you handled, size of contracts, cost savings made, increase in business etc

With regards to your in house role do you mainly deal with the commercial contracts side of have you assisted with any commercial litigation or employment law issues? What are you doing on a day to day basis? Can you add any more details in to your current role to make it a bit longer. Remember you have plenty of room so add in as much details as you can.

Something I did pick up is that you have overlap with regards of dates of role so you appear to have worked for [x] and [y] when you were at [z]. I am presuming you might therefore be part time in your current role. It is worth clarifying this on CVs so to avoid confusion. Also if any posts were fixed contract roles worth indicating as well so that potential employers can see your reason for leaving.

One thing employers don’t like is candidates who appear to move roles every couple of years unless it was because they were contract posts. It can make them think that a candidate won’t stay with them long either so no point investing time and money in them. So along with this if the reason for leaving a firm was something beyond your control like you were made redundant or the firm closed down worth putting on your reason for leaving on your CV.

Additional skills:

This section is fine generally as well. Include any languages you speak at a reasonably high level (state degree of fluency) and can also state if you have a  driving licence here.

Interests:

Candidates don’t seem to put a lot of effort into this section. I don’t know whether this is because they assume it is irrelevant or that they think no-one will read this section. Most CVs we see either miss this section off or it contain. However, it is actually quite important for a number of reasons.

Firstly, it is a way of adding some colour to your CV and a way of making you stand out from the crowd especially if you have an unusual or particularly impressive interest.

Secondly, it is a way of showing you are a rounded individual and have a life outside work.

Thirdly, you just never know  but if the person reading it shares a similar interest or is so intrigued by what you have written that it might get you an interview.

So really good to see a candidate who has put some thought into this section. I would probably combine your Awards into your Interests section as they are sporting achievements. I would also put the year you achieved the award.

Not sure about including the Maths Challenge – if it is what I think it is you did this at senior school like my children and thousands or others have so it would be a bit like including your cycling proficiency test on your CV!

References:

If you have 2 references lined up put their names, organisation they worked for, job title and contact details on your CV. One should be ideally from one of your most recent roles.

Or it is acceptable to write “Available on request”.

Jonathan Fagan

Jonathan Fagan LLM FIRP is Managing Director of Ten-Percent Legal Recruitment. He has been recruiting solicitors and legal support staff for law firms and in house legal departments for over 17 years and handles roles from junior fee earners through to partners and law firm sales/purchases. A non-practising solicitor on the Roll since 2000, he is also the author of a number of legal career books, which are available at www.legalcareercoaching.co.uk. You can contact Jonathan at cv@ten-percent.co.uk