One chance to make a first impression

11 Aug 2011

While we can’t travel back in time and amend your academic results or past work experience, we can help you sugar coat reality. Law firms sift through hundreds of CVs a year. They formulate decisive opinions at a cold glance and incinerate mediocre applications. Follow these helpful tips and ensure that your CV avoids the furnace, and stays a cut above the rest.

Your application is most likely to be the first contact with a prospective employer and it is therefore important that you make the best possible impression. Prepare a customised covering letter and CV for every position. Give your prospective employer a reason to look at your CV.

The Covering Letter

The professionalism of your covering letter will determine whether the recruiter will be interested in reading your CV.

Be brief and to the point

Avoid spelling, grammar and typing errors. Give the letter to somebody else to read before you send it off, to make sure that they understand what you’re trying to say.

The covering letter should contain your contact details, the name of the person to whom the letter is addressed and the job for which you are applying.

  1. Each letter should be tailor-made for the firm you want to join.
  2. Express clearly who you are and why you are suitable for the position.
  3. Highlight your strengths and why you want to work for them.
  4. Explain any gaps in your CV, such as, a year spent overseas after school or university.
  5. Highlight how this has benefited you and made you a better candidate for the job.

The Curriculum Vitae

The purposeof the CV is to give a prospective employer as much relevant information about you as possible in order to get an interview. Keep your CV brief. Aim for a professional look: no fancy fonts or images. Include a photo, if you can, and use good quality paper.

Your CV should include:

  • Name, contact details, nationality and driver’s licence
  • Career objective
  • Additional training
  • Work history
  • Skills
  • Professional achievements
  • References

Highlight your ability to apply knowledge by relating experience you’ve gained from part-time work or community projects to the job for which you are applying. Your most relevant experience should be listed prominently. Make sure all the facts are correct.

Many organisations provide application forms. Complete these, even if the information is already on your CV.

According to Nikki Webb, HR Director at Hogan Lovells, it is also important for students to provide their academic transcripts. She says, “The more comprehensive the information the applicant provides, the easier it is for us to assess whether they are suitable.

A well prepared application is also an indication of the applicant’s attention to detail – a very important quality for a lawyer.

(This article is provided for informational purposes only and not for the purpose of providing legal advice. For more information on the topic, please contact the author/s or the relevant provider.)