10 top tips on how to compile an impressive CV

These days, most law firms have their own application forms. However, it’s possible that some firms, particularly smaller or more traditional ones, will still ask you to provide a CV. If so, the tips below should help you present yourself on paper in the best light.

1) Presentation

Your CV must be clear, structured and uncluttered. It is usually best to put your most recent experience at the top and work backwards in date order, especially if you are a recent graduate. If you are a career changer or have a lot of previous work experience, it may be better to put your most relevant experience first.

2) Balance

You should aim for the right mix of information, spread between your academics, work experience, awards and other activities. You want to give evidence that you are a balanced person who can perform well academically and that you have a range of experiences but you are also engaged in extra-curricular activities.

3) Keep it relevant

You only have one or two sides of A4 on which to write your CV. You need to pick what experience and information is relevant to the specific role you are applying for. Think about what the recruiter wants to know.

4) Explain

Don’t just list your experiences. Elaborate on your role, what you learnt and achieved and, if you have space, how that is relevant to the role you are applying for. Be concise as space is limited.

5) Attention to detail

It will not reflect well on you if there are mistakes in your CV. Read, re-read, take a break and re-read it again before sending.

6) Get the basics right

Remember to include your phone number and email address. Regarding the latter, make sure you use a professional email address!

7) Experience

Draw on a wide range of experiences, even if they are not directly related to the role you are applying for. It demonstrates that you can take the initiative and have developed transferable skills which you can use in your future career.

8) Don’t be afraid to ask for help

Asking a friend, career advisor or family member to look over your CV can be invaluable. They can highlight which areas could be improved and a fresh pair of eyes are likely to identify any mistakes.

9) Formatting

Send your CV as a PDF and not in a Word document. Sometimes Word documents have tracked changes on them, allowing the recruiter to see your edits.

10) Follow the instructions

Has the recruiter asked for a one-page or two-page CV? Have they asked for any specific information? Make sure your CV contains everything that has been asked of you.