Get a life! 3 mistakes to avoid on your legal CV

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There is so much competition in the job market. Attention to detail is a vital skill for solicitors and other types of lawyers. You cannot afford to make a mistake on your legal CV as you will only get one chance. After all, as the saying goes, you don’t get a second chance to make a first impression!

Obviously you want to have a completely error free CV. To stand any chance of getting an interview, this is a must!

Here are 3 mistakes to avoid when writing a legal CV:

Spelling and grammar

Yes, you’ve heard it a thousand times, but those sneaky little spelling and grammatical errors could cost you an interview for your dream job. A study was conducted in Australia which showed that around two thirds of applications were rejected due to poor spelling or grammatical errors. So this is clearly the worst mistake you can make when writing a CV.

First of all, don’t rely on the spell checker. It simply won’t pick up all of the errors. For example, using the wrong word or missing words out altogether. Get a number of professional people to give your CV the once over before it goes to any important would-be employer. You could also ask them to provide feedback on your entire application so you make further improvements.

Unprofessional photos

Candidates seem to have a very different opinion of what makes a good CV photo, in contrast with recruiters. One example is adding a photo in which you’re wearing sunglasses (yes, we genuinely have seen this recently). Another example we’ve seen (often) is relaxed and casual photos where the candidate is hanging out with their friends. A further horrifying example is where the candidate appears straight faced, passport style.

If you’re going to add a photo to your CV, make sure you’re wearing professional clothes and you appear on a neutral background or you’re sat in the office. Look at the camera and smile gently in a confident and reassuring way. Ask other professionals for their honest opinion of the photo you just took, before you use it.

Recent studies have shown that US employers are not keen at all on seeing your picture on a résumé. Whilst in Europe you will find the opposite, and they do on the whole like to see a picture. If you are unsure, then leave it off altogether. You may be the only person that includes a photo anyway, so it won’t go against you. However, if you are confident it will add value to your CV and will look professional, then go for it!

TMI

You’ve heard the saying ‘too much info’ – make sure this doesn’t apply to your CV!

Don’t include anything that could give prospective employers a reason to discriminate against you. For example – your marital status, ethnic origin, religion, sexual orientation, gender, and so on.

Although we’d like to live in a world where this doesn’t happen, unfortunately it still does. Even more unfortunate is the fact that it could hinder your chances of an interview. If you’re judged on something personal before you even make it that far, you are not able to get the message across that you’re the right person for the job.

The only personal information that needs to go on your CV is your name, address and contact details. The exception to this is where the job advert specifies that a certain gender is required. The employer is permitted to do so by law because of the nature of the job.

TMI on your CV could also relate to irrelevant information. Although it seems quite obvious not to include irrelevant information, you’d be surprised at how many job seekers still do. Listing their entire career history with no thought for the amount of space it’s using, each candidate is failing to use their two-page CV efficiently.

Focus upon what the employer really wants from a candidate, and try to bring that out within your CV. If communication is an important aspect of the role, then why not try to find as many instances as possible that showcase your amazing communication skills.

Your entire application needs to be tailored to the role, the company, and even the industry itself. Providing too much irrelevant information is not going to get you an interview.

The Total Practice Management Association (Total PMA) is dedicated to the advancement of Solicitors, Legal Executives, Paralegals and other legal support staff in their struggle to build and manage a profitable practice without sacrificing their personal life.

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