in Careers Advice, CV Writing

CV Review – Legal Profession Entrant from Elite Sport Background

CV-Review-Legal-Profession-Entrant-with-Sports-Background

First impression:

The font is clear and a good size and you have used bold to highlight some parts.

However, as you have split the CV into sections it is hard to read as it all blends into one. Most recruiters, HR departments, potential employers will receive many CVs/applications. You have to make your CV stand out from the crowd and be so easy to read that they can see within a glance who you are, what you are experienced in and what you are looking for.

We have a good guide on how to write a CV on our website indicating how you should split the CV and suggesting what sections you should use. It is meant for a legal CV but the basic principles apply to any CV at any stage of a career.

we also have loads of other tips on CVs at this page:

I will go through the sections below. You will see the section headings that we advise highlighted in bold. Use these heading on your CV. I would advise highlighting your headings in bold so they stand out.

Personal Details:

This section is fine. Just a couple of points to add:

You need to add a contact email address. A lot of recruiters/employers will prefer this way of contacting you.

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.

After your Personal Details section we would suggest the following:

Personal Profile:

This is 2 or 3 sentences to state who you are, what you are experienced in and what your next step is in your career or next role you are looking for. Keep is factual and brief. Avoid any subjective comments such as “ I am an ambitious and driven individual” – anyone can state this but it doesn’t mean it is true!

Education:

You have called this section Qualifications but I think calling it Education is better.

At the moment this section is very hard to read as it is basically a long list. You need to divide this section up. It should be in reverse chronological order (i.e your most recent qualification first.

For each qualification you should state: start and finish date, title of course, name of college/school, qualification obtained and result.

If you are looking to move into law you need to think about which qualification you have are relevant to a legal career. So for instance you tennis qualifications and your health and fitness qualification are not going to be relevant. You therefore don’t need to go into detail at all or list every qualification. It would probably be enough to just put the title of the course rather than listing each individual qualification.

Take the sentence about computer literacy out of this section. There is another section of your CV where you can put this.

For school again you need to list the start and finish date, name of school and location. You don’t need to list all your O Levels. It is enough to write (in your case) 5 O Levels, Grade A to C including Maths and English. For your A Levels as your results are not brilliant I wouldn’t put the grade on. Just state : 3 A Levels in English Literature, Biology and Physics

Take the sentence about language skills out of this section. Again, there is another section of your CV where you can put this.

Work Experience:

Just like your Education section this should be in reverse chronological order with your most recent position first.

With candidates who have had another career besides law we would suggest actually splitting this section into 2 sections:

Legal Work Experience:

This section should come first as it is the most relevant to a legal career. At this stage it may consist of non-paid voluntary experience, internships, one day workshops etc but this is all fine. Just make sure it is in reverse chronological order.

For each role/experience you should list have the following: start and finish dates, name of firm/organisation, name of role – this can form your heading.

Then below your heading write a description of your duties.

At the moment you have wrote your role description in full sentences, like an essay. What you should be doing is writing it in bullet points using brief sentences. Don’t’ write this section if first person – take out all the Is)

Always make it very clear what area of law you were working/interning/volunteering or attending a workshop in.

When you get further through your career this section will hopefully get longer and more details. Eventually it should form the bulk of your CV once your legal career is well established.

Non-Legal Work Experience:

As above make sure it is in reverse chronological order. For each role/experience you should list have the following: start and finish dates, name of firm/organisation, title/nature of role, description of your duties.

I appreciate that at the moment as tennis and fitness has been your career this section is going to be larger. However, what I suggest you do is read through it and ask yourself how relevant what you have wrote at the moment is to a legal career. If it is of no relevance don’t put it in.

What you need to try and do (and I know this can be tricky given your current career is so different from a legal one) is to try and write things about your role that would be relevant. For example, if you wre self-employed in any of your roles then presumably you would have had to have skills in marketing, business development and accounting skills. It sounds like you needed a lot of organisational and marketing skills as a school co-ordinator as well to be able to increase membership.

As mentioned above, write it in bullet points using brief sentences.

Additional Skills:

Here is the section where you can list your computer and language skills. Don’t use full sentences though. Should be a bullet pointed list. Also with regards your computer skills list the software that you have used eg Word, Excel etc.

As you progress in law, include any specific legal software packages, case management systems, legal databases you have used.

If you have an exceptional typing speed above say 50 wpm it is worth mentioning here.

State your degree of fluency for your languages ie Greek – mother tongue

Another thing you can state in this section is a Full, Clean Driving Licence if you have one.

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 like you have done or it contain a few words only. 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 you need to put more details in – not an essay but a couple of lines for each hobby to give a little clarity.

Obviously you have your tennis and fitness. As your career in law moves forward your tennis roles and qualifications can take a back seat and instead you can put a description in your interests section.

Please don’t just write “Tennis” and leave it as that. You need it to come across that you have played to a very high standard – you could put your ranking in, any notable wins and presumably you might still be doing some coaching on the side.

And to show you are not a one trick pony if you have any other hobbies put them in with a couple of points to describe the interest.

Finally,

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. Another can be anyone in a professional capacity so if you start a law course then a tutor would be a good reference.

Or it is acceptable to write “Available on request” if you would prefer or if you haven’t anyone lined up when you send your CV. However, worth getting these sorted so you know you have someone you can ask if they are requested.

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