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'I have great attention to deatil', and other CV fails

Author: Legal Week |

09 Feb 2011 | 15:18

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So, I had a little rant a while back about interview fails. But, y'know, recruitment isn't all about stifling your laughter as hopeless candidates squirm in front of you. No, it's also about laughing out loud in the office as you wade through a foot-high pile of terrible CVs.

So, as part of my continuing service to wannabe lawyers everywhere, here's my guide to making sure your CV passes the Bizzle test (once again, all examples are unfortunately real):

1. Avoid Comic Sans. Want to be associated with the world's most reviled typeface? Happy for '"comic' to be your personal brand? Sure, go ahead. And I'll go ahead and ignore your application.

2. Don't shout. Yeah, I know your dad said that applications should be WRITTEN IN BLOCK CAPITALS. But that's because the last time he applied for a job he had to handwrite it on, like, parchment or something. If you've typed it, lower case is perfectly readable (unless you ignored rule one, of course).

3. Stand out from the crowd. I once got five applications from one law school, all in the exact same format, layout and typeface. They even had the same extra-curricular activities listed. So it's either a hive mind, in which case that's kinda scary, or it's a bunch of lazy students copying their CVs off each other, in which case it's BIN.

4. But not for the wrong reasons. Individuality, fine. Barking mad, not so much. Four pages setting out the "project management" skills that you got from working in your uncle's restaurant? That's the latter.

5. Walk it like you talk it. Seriously, if you put "I have great attention to deatil" in your CV then you deserve to be laughed at in a blog like this.

6. Think about who you're writing for. I know I've said this before, but c'mon, if you're applying for a commercial position, a page about your experience in family and criminal law is nice, but really rather beside the point.

7. No, really, think about it. Having done work experience with us certainly gives you an edge. Spinning it as making a crucial strategic contribution to the team makes you look delusional. By all means do that in the version of your CV that you send to other people (after all, every little helps), but do you really expect me to swallow it?

8. I said think, dammit! The centrepiece of your recital of legal experience is a frankly misguided pro bono consumer action against my biggest client? You must be so proud. Next!

Seriously, I know it's hard to write a good CV, but it helps to start with these simple points:

- Learn to use Word.
- Write and format your own CV.
- Use a bespoke CV for each application.
- For God's sake, spellcheck.

Do all that, and I guarantee I'll read it without laughing. Probably.

Legal Bizzle is an in-house lawyer who blogs at The Bizzle. Click here to follow Legal Bizzle on Twitter.

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