Your CV

CV Advice

We get asked to vet peoples' CVs all the time.

The bad news is, its a service we don't offer.

The good news is that we don't really need to.

To make the best of your CV you need to address just three issues:

1. Remember it is not a history of your life.  Nor is it simply a list of who, what, when and where. It is a platform for you to draw to the attention of a prospective employer that you have relevant skills, attributes, experience and/or contacts etc. that are relevant to the job you are applying for.

2. Your credibility/trustworthiness. If you over-embellish, misrepresent or just plain lie then the chances are you're going to get caught out. The people reading your CV are CV experts - they have probably read thousands in their time.  They can spot misrepresentations, stretches etc easily. Also remember your CV is not being read in a court of law - if they even suspect that your CV is phony or inflated then your application goes in the bin.

3. People don't read CV's, they scan them. If they cannot be easily read by a quick scan they may not be read at all.

So to maximise the effectiveness of your CV:

A. Read the Introductory Level IOP Competency Standards for Paralegals and see the topics that employers themselves have said are essential - business awareness; team working. IT skills etc.  Where possible things in your CV should tie to one of these so that you can demonstrate you have relevant attributes.

B. For the sake of credibility do not over-inflate what you have done. Following around a surly lawyer for two weeks on a work-experience programme and being ignored for most of that time does not count as legal practise experience in the eyes of employers. Don't pretend that it was!

C. Although you cannot leave unexplained gaps, sometimes less is more.  You may have done an awful lot in if your life already.  But consider whether you are telling the prospective employer anything relevant when you list something. If not, why is it going in? NB this equally applies to negative things are they relevant and does their inclusion/omission give a misleading picture?

Finally, how long should a CV be?

Many people will tell you no more than two pages. They usually right.  More than two pages and you are probably putting in things that are irrelevant. However if you have genuinely relevant stuff that exceeds two pages then say it - because if it is relevant the employer will not mind reading it (provided you are not too long-winded).

For advice on the all-important covering letter click here.


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