It takes about two-three minutes to appraise a CV, so you don’t have long to make a good impression. The objective of your CV is to secure an interview and make a positive impact on the interviewer before you meet. Your CV should be short, professional and focussed on your key achievements. Here are some tips from Edge, based on our experience of reviewing the CVs of thousands of Canadian lawyers with our coworkers and our clients.
- Prioritize Put your current and most relevant experience at the top of your CV, where the eye lands first. Don’t dilute this with a laundry list of every kind of work you’ve been exposed to, list only the areas of law which directly relate to the role.
- Tailor it Customize your CV to each position you apply for and review it for spelling, punctuation and grammar every time you send it out.
- Short beats long Aim for two pages which list the highlights; you can always append a transaction summary or case synopsis to add more detail.
- Watch continuity Be consistent when listing areas of experience (i.e., use bullet points). Avoid excessive underlining, bold and italics, and different fonts and sizes.
- Be factual not salesy Avoid flowery personal mission statements or generalizations such as “excellent contract drafting skills”, instead cite specific examples or outcomes which relate to the requirements of your desired position.
- References These should be available on request, no need to include their contact information.
- End with a spark Include one to two sentences covering your personal interests, sports, hobbies, etc. This gives your interviewer a sense of the person behind the CV, ideally some common interest to discuss which builds rapport.
How to best structure your information
- Start with your current or most recent position. If your firm is not well known, include a brief description of your employer. Include job title, month and year beside each position held. Summarize your role in one sentence then use short bullet points to highlight your successes or key cases/deals worked on, including the value, brief details of the transaction, and your role in it.
- Work back through all positions held to your date of call
- Do not leave gaps in employment, if there are gaps, please provide dates and a statement covering your activities for that period
- Do not include personal photographs
- List all memberships held starting with most recent ie: Member, Law Society of Alberta, 2005
- I.e. Member Law Society of British Columbia, 2002
- Start with your most recent and work back to your undergrad.
- Include Honours, Awards Scholarships and Distinctions
- List in priority order
Interests or Additional Information
- Include one or two breif personal interests at the end of the CV
- Research the partner / law firm / company you are applying to and see if you can establish a connection through a common interest. Perhaps you are both on the board of a similar charity, or avid mountain bikers or love to travel
- Any foreign languages should be listed here. Please state fluency level and whether you can draft in this language