Your CV should be two pages long - no more, no less. It should be kept simple, easy to read, well spaced and laid out and you should use a basic type face such as Times New Roman or Arial.
You’re EXACTLY right - you want to catch their attention quickly but not go on and on. This is why your CV must be well set out, and informative with no wasted words whatsoever. It must be intelligently written, simple and easy to understand.
You should separate your CV into 3 main sections: Education, Work History, Hobbies/Skills.
EDUCATION - list your schools, colleges, University and any other institutions to present. Include all subjects studied and grades achieved. This is usually in reverse time/chronological order.
WORK HISTORY - include all RELEVANT employment. Lots of people have worked in a lot of places but you do not always need to put everything down. This section is also usually in reverse time/chronological order.
You should limit your work history to 3 or 4 relevant experiences. If going for a job in law think about what recruiters would like to see in applicants. If you have worked as an intern at three different Law firms, worked in three different offices and worked in three different supermarkets, put down the three internships, one, or two office experiences and one supermarket experience. It’s good to show that you’ve done different things, but always think about how relevant things are - to the recruiter!
You should briefly describe what you learnt/achieved at each internship/experience/job like this:
ASDA (March 2007 to August 2007): I subsidised my studies at University working on the cheese counter at a busy supermarket. In this role I provided members of the general public with great customer service and advice about a range of products available to them. After a month I was promoted to Assistant Manager of Cheese because of my exemplary attitude to work and given greater responsibility to manage the Cheese team.
Taylor Wessing (Vacation Placement) (February 2007): Taylor Wessing’s Vacation Placement was an incredible opportunity to learn about the real life day to day workings of a high powered law firm. During this time I learnt a great deal about the work solicitors do and was even given responsibility to produce written material for clients and visit clients such as IBM and TESCO.
EXTRA CURRICULAR/SKILLS/HOBBIES - In this section put down any relevant skills that you have and talk about any interesting societies/groups you have been part of. Again, only put down things which are relevant. This means that your passion for travel and ability to speak seven foreign languages should be included. Your ability to play the recorder to grade one probably shouldn’t be.
Never try to be funny, or cute in any section of your CV. Recruiters read 100’s, sometimes 1000’s of CV’s a day. They keep CV’s that stand out because of good grades, relevant work experience and interesting/unusual hobbies/skills. They don’t keep CV’s that make them smile, and they don’t usually smile, because funny things in CV’s are only funny to applicants.
NOTE: You do not NEED to include anything to reveals your age, race, sexual preference, or any other personal information in your CV. If asked to supply something like this by a company and you would prefer not to, you do not have to. If they put pressure on you to do so, you can challenge them legally.
FURTHER NOTE: I’ve seen great CV’s - and I mean really really good ones - rejected for minor flaws such as a SINGLE spelling mistake or typing error. YOU MUST spell check, double check everything and get other people to read and re-read your CV. Even having a small error on your CV can be fatal.
Like your CV this should be sharp, simple, and to the point. No waffle. You need to explain your desire to work in Law (talk about your background and why you think you’d be suited to the profession - back this up with your academics and experiences) and more specifically why you want to work for this particular firm (explain how your interests and background make you a good match for the work this firm does - talk about what you like/are impressed by at this firm).
My advice is to just write about your thoughts first of all. Once you’ve done this, edit your letter and take out everything that isn’t 100% relevant. Keep making edits until your letter is razor sharp, interesting, well written and intelligent. At this point, we can give you more advice if you need it!
Good luck Rebecca,