#2: ‘Jonathan’

In the second of our CV workshops, our expert careers advisor, Gemma Baker of Kaplan Law School, finds a CV which is too long-winded…

’Jonathan’ (not his real name) is currently a final year student at the University of Birmingham. He hopes to become a commercial solicitor in the City, and is applying for vacation placements at various magic circle firms.

Here’s the CV he sent us. The text in red is where Gemma has amended it. The blue numbers are where she has made notes: scroll down to see them.

Cv 2.3
Cv 2.3
Gemma Baker
Gemma Baker

Gemma says…

This CV potentially could be great, but the applicant’s letting himself down in a couple of areas.

He needs to change his language slightly, rather than saying ”I was also given various tasks to perform which involved the collating….”, I would get straight to the heart of the matter by saying ”Collated and …”. The meaning of sentences can get lost in a long intro and remember your CV and applications should be concise (but not without detail!). The student also doesn’t give much detail: ”acted as an ambassador” is great, but how did he do this, what did he achieve? How did he add value to the organisation? It is important to draw out these details in any CV or application.

Moving on to ‘Achievements & Interests’, I would say that he needs to be far far more detailed. His rugby involvement sounds like a real commitment, as does the Duke of Edinburgh Gold Award. It is essential that students really convey that they work hard and can commit to a high level at activities outside of standard academics – it indicates a hard working, driven individual – generally a team player, who will commit to that firm.

Gemma’s notes 

[1] Please give your first and second year averages here, as otherwise this prediction is unfounded.

[2] Please give breakdown of each subject.

[3] Selected or applied for? What did you do at the conference? 

[4] Note this is an ‘and’, not &.

[5] City (as in City of London) is spelt with a capital as it is a place name. 

[6] How did you help/promote the brand, specifically? This is too vague, which can be interpreted as ‘wasn’t really involved’.

[7] Again, what do you mean by involved? What was the initiative? 

[8] Who were the clients? What were you hoping to achieve for them?

[9] What kind of law?

[10] For what purpose? In person? Over the phone?

[11] A Chambers isn’t a firm, please refer to it as ‘Chambers’ or the ‘set’. How did you act as an ambassador? 

[12] What did you learn about a career at the Bar during your mini pupillage?

[13] It sounds as if you have devoted a great deal of your time to rugby but you need to shout out your achievements – how much time do you commit to training and playing – what team are you/were you on at school and uni? Do/did you compete in competitions/leagues – where did you place. Give way more detail about mentoring and the Secretary role.

[14] More information on all these activities, particularly the DoE Gold Award – where was your expedition, where was it etc. Make more of your achievements, you’ve clearly put a great deal of effort and time into your extra curriculars – make that more evident.

About our expert

Gemma Baker is head of careers at Kaplan Law Schoool. Previously, she worked in grad recruitment for ten years, at City firms AshurstTrowers & Hamlins and Mayer Brown.