Editor’s note: This article is directed at lawyers but applies to almost anyone who may be looking for a job. Article by Marc Evan Aupiais
Lawyers are document specialists. If your curriculum vitae is not perfect, you will struggle to get a job at a law firm. A CV isn’t an afterthought. It is the thrust of your attempt at employment.
When I was looking for my first job as a candidate attorney, I spent two or three months perfecting my CV, carefully looking for any spelling error, or weakness in the flow or content of my writing, and the formatting of the document. A CV to a law firm should display mastery of written English wording, effective communication, and perfect grammar. Those are your primary tools as an attorney.
I then got out a copy of Horters, and carefully emailed the directors of many firms in my area. Secretaries in law firms often throw the CVs of candidates for jobs, who walk in, in the bin, and delete those sent to them via email. Sending your CV to a secretary is thus usually a bad idea.
Making them want you…
Your letter of motivation is likely your most important part of your CV as a new law graduate. You should make a firm want to scoop you up as an asset to them, though by showing, not telling. Listing your subjects later in your CV, (but without your marks,) can also show them you are worthwhile. Unless they are asked for, don’t attach transcripts or scans of your ID and degrees. Say they are available on request.
My email had a heading stating what job I was looking for, the email explained a bit about me and my desire for a job at their firm, and then referred to the attached PDF with my letter of motivation, CV and two letters of recommendation inside of it.
Making sure that someone looks at your CV…
I asked that if theirs was not the desk that dealt with human resources that the email be forwarded to that desk. I sent to about a dozen firms a day, until I got interviews at a few firms. Don’t CC a hundred firms in your emails, send to each individually. Also, send from a professional email address.
I still got replies to my CV to be a candidate attorney, years later, when I had already qualified and been admitted as an attorney.
Saying a CV is not important, is like saying your particulars of claim or plea are not important. Your documents need to be perfect long before you argue at trial, and your CV must be top notch, so that when it gets you interviews, you are entering an interview, having already made a good impression with your accuracy and good form in document creation.
Advocates may specialise in arguing on court. Attorneys are primarily about the paperwork. If your paperwork, in the form of your application to a firm for a job, is lacking, you have missed your first opportunity to show that you have the skills to do the primary job of an attorney.
Would you rather receive a professional, polite, nicely emailed application from a candidate for a job you need done, or would you rather have a sweaty graduate, in casual wear, walk into your firm, hand your secretary a scrubby, badly drafted document, and say they demand a job? Or, worse, demand to speak to you, taking you away from your work and clients, to demand a job? There is a reason people often prefer email to phone calls, it allows them to go over what is said to them, such as why you would be an asset to their firm, at their own pace, and in comfort. Seeking a job at a law firm is best done by email.
If you want a job in law, foremost is your documentation, in getting one. Email a good CV out to a lot of firms. If you aren’t getting replies, then you really do need to spend a few months perfecting your CV.