The number of law graduates continues to rise, with (currently 31,315 in the UK) in the past year alone. If you’re applying for entry-level legal positions, you do not necessarily need a law degree, but you are likely to face stiff competition from thousands of other applicants both with a degree and without. So how can you make sure you get the job? It all starts with a winning entry-level legal CV. Here are five top tips to ensure your CV shines and helps you to land an interview.
Research your target jobs
The legal industry can be incredibly diverse with many sectors within the industry and many routes to your dream job. Before applying for any entry-level position going, it is wise to research your target jobs so that you won’t be stifled in the prospective role.
Once you have found your target jobs, conduct thorough research on the roles, what they entail and the company. You can then show your full understanding by adapting your CV to meet the requirements of the position, using keywords that they mention in their job specification.
Use a simple structure
With so many applicants, most recruiters will only scan a CV rather than reading it fully. With this in mind, it is essential to have a clear structure for your CV, so recruiters can find the information they are looking for. Clear headings, spacing and positioning of text should follow a standard convention. This way, you can make your unique skill set shine. Having a simple structure makes it easy for you to edit your CV for each job you apply for too. Using a professional CV template can help you to get a head start on creating an effective structure for the document.
Write an eye-catching personal statement
Your personal statement at the top of your CV is your sales pitch. It is the first thing recruiters will read. If it is attention-grabbing, the recruiter will read on. If it isn’t, then your CV hasn’t hit the mark. Regardless of your experience, you can make your personal statement compelling by showing exactly what skills and experience you have which make you suitable for the roles you are applying for.
Make sure to avoid using clichés in your personal statement. Recruiters will expect you to be ‘hard-working’ ‘go-getting’ and ‘enthusiastic’, so don’t use terms such as these. Instead, write around eight lines of sharp, compelling content which shows your understanding of the job description and why you’re a fantastic candidate.
Draw relevant legal skills from your studies
Even if you don’t have experience in the world of legal work, you are likely to have some form of suitable experience from your law studies. In your CV it is worthwhile mentioning similar projects you have undertaken and the skills you have gained from your studies. Review the modules, projects and tasks that you have completed which have given you both legal skills and insight into a working legal environment.
Highlight work experience if you have any (paid or unpaid)
When reviewing your CV, recruiters will be looking for direct and transferable skills that will make you a good fit for their roles. If you are applying for an entry-level legal position, then you are unlikely to have any legal work experience. However, you can use office experience, volunteering and internships as a way of promoting your work experience and your suitability to a legal working environment.
Andrew Fennell is a former recruiter and founder of StandOut CV, a leading advice centre for CV writing and job search. Andrew contributes careers advice to a number of sites including The Guardian, Business Insider and CV Library.