#3: Rebecca

Our expert careers advisor, Gemma Baker of Kaplan Law School, tackles a CV that’s too short.

‘Rebecca’ (not her real name) is currently in her second year at Sheffield Hallam University, studying Law with Criminology, having spent the summer working in a large high street law firm. She aims to become a solicitor in a medium-sized City firm, preferably with a private client department.

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

cv 3.1
Gemma Baker
Gemma Baker

Gemma says…

The CV should absolutely be two pages: a one page CV is an american-style resume. The student needs far more detail here. There are no extra curricular activities at all, so it is hard to judge achievements, etc. The student really does need to detail all her achievements outside academics since the age of 15/16.

With regards to career aspirations, I think the student may struggle to gain a foothold in City law, simply due to academics. The competition is so very high at the moment, with many firms having AAA, AAB or ABB as the minimum academic requirement. Students must be aware that this is the minimum requirement – if you haven’t achieved this, it is highly likely you won’t get through the first sift.

My first piece of advice, however brutal it might sound, is to apply to a firm that wants you! Otherwise you will face a difficult year of applications. I would also advise this student to gain more experience, perhaps at a local/regional level. This may be where this student’s future lies; or at least to have far more detail with regards to the three-month place at the solicitors’ firm: it’s too vague currently.

Gemma’s notes

[1] No need to include your home number, unless you want a parent or another person taking your work calls.  Just keep your mobile number and make sure that it has a good, professional voicemail greeting. 

[2] I would reformat education to read at a glance – I have to look at two sections to see where and when you studied.  Please be specific with regards to your A-Levels and GCSEs – how many at each grade.  You should also indicate your first undergraduate year marks.  Additionally, rather than read ‘to present’, you should make clear when you will graduate from Sheffield Hallam.  

[3] I am not a fan of skill/character based CVs – the content of your CV, whether in work experience or extra curricular activity, should convey key skills and characteristics. Listing them like this unfortunately isn’t credible – recruiters will want to know the context in which these skills are gained, otherwise it’s just a list.  

[4] No need to say previous – if you have any work experience lined up for the future, please include it.

Work experience should be in reverse chronological order, i.e. most recent first. 

Additionally you need significant changes to your work experience section. Was your work full or part time? What did you achieve in each role? How did you motivate your clients at RoundAbout? What kind of activities did you organise at Lucky? Did you get good feedback? Were you invited back in university/school holidays?

With regards to Ace Solicitors, ‘clients’, ‘files’ and ‘fee earners’ should be spelt with a lower case. What did you learn at client meetings? What did you mean by balancing their needs? What specifically did you do, what kind of research? What was it used for? 

[5] ’Kids’ should have an apostrophe.