It is THAT time of year for law students – applying for graduate positions. Don’t panic. It is very important not to panic. Your CV and covering letter must be the best work of art you can create with a document. It is your written personal marketing document – remember this when writing it.
Here are out top tips for your written application:
A covering letter is an introduction to you and why you are applying for a role. You do not have to write a novel, and certainly don’t need to repeat all of the information that is found in your CV. Do not go over one page.
Proof read it. Several times if necessary. Make sure you are applying to the right firm and person. So many people copy and past the text from one letter in to another, forgetting to change the address details of the firm, or the salutation, putting in the wrong name of the person who will be reading it. Adopt a ‘four eyes’ policy – get someone else to read it too in case you have some blind spots
Remember with bulk recruiting, HR staff are likely to receive more CVs than they need – they will be looking for a reason to exclude you from the process, and if you make a mistake indicating that you do not have attention to detail you are making their job easier.
Set it out in a simple way
brief introduction explaining who you are and the position you are seeking
brief summary of why your skills are relevant to the position
brief paragraph of why the firm to which you are applying is of interest to you (i.e. why you can add value, and what interests you about the firm – do some research and show that you know something about the firm)
A thank you for considering your application
Try and keep your CV to three pages at this stage of your career. It is not necessary to include your experience at school unless relevant – e.g. leadership positions, or teamwork, as long as you show how that is relevant to the current position.
Again – spell check and proof read the whole document and get someone else to read it
Keep the layout simple – readability is important. Large chunks of text do not make it easy for your CV to be visually ‘scanned ‘ for relevant information.
Use lots of headings, in bold, and bullet points
List your skills, not just your experience. If you have not worked in a law firm before, draw out the skills that are transferrable – e.g. teamwork, leadership, communication, and customer relations.
Use reverse order for your work experience – most recent experience first
Make sure you tailor your CV to the position – think about the firm and what they need
Do not exaggerate your achievements – experienced HR people know to look out for expressions like ‘ involved in’ when referring to transactions and will ask about the level of your experience.