David Warburton careers, blog, role...
In the normal course of events, one's enthusiasm for a career move outstrips one's preparedness. Granted, the inclination to move needs to come first, but you won’t get anywhere without the cornerstone of a job search – a solid CV. This short document is your ‘shop window’ and should showcase your experience in a positive and concise way that is accessible to the reader. We routinely tell lawyers on how to best tailor their CV for a specific role, but before getting to that stage, it’s important to master the key principles:
With any luck, you’ll have had a great career to date, and thus lots of quality experience to talk about. Lawyers are especially keen on detail and thoroughness, but for a CV, brevity is your friend. Provided you have communicated the necessary points, it is better to have a document that leaves the reader wanting more, than one so long it doesn’t get read. A relatively short CV (American lawyers traditionally keep to 1 page) also increases your chances of achieving the next key principle.
Is your CV characterised by easy-to-assimilate sub-headings and bullet-points, or is it a mass of continuous prose? It is typically acknowledged that the average reader of a CV gives just 10 seconds of their time to making an first assessment, before deciding whether to read the detail. If the reader – for our purposes usually a Partner or hiring manager – can’t see that you’d been at a top firm or experienced several high-profile deals with a cursory glance, chances are you need to discuss a few things.
This brings us nicely on to…
Deal Sheet or no Deal Sheet, that is the question. At least, it’s a common question. There comes a tipping point, perhaps after 2 or 3 years of experience, where it’s best to cut all the bullet points concerning transaction/matter experience from under your respective employment sub-headings, and put them into a separate sheet. This frees up the CV itself, and leaves you with a concise summary of education, training, employment, language skills and professional qualifications, which is accessible to the reader. Attention can be drawn to the deal sheet with a simple line such as “Associate in the M&A/Corporate team, with experience on numerous outbound transactions on behalf of European clients, up to a value of US$1bn, often acting as Lead Associate – further details on Deal Sheet (attached)”.
Does your CV beg certain questions? In which case, rather than having back & forth dialogue and delay your applications after CV submission, it’s best to address them within the CV itself. If you’re looking for a new role having been in your current post only 9 months, this will raise eyebrows, unless it’s a 1-year contract, in which case you’d be better mentioning that in the CV and saving confusion. Did you move to a new country and leave shortly thereafter – again, this could be problematic, unless it was due to certain unforeseen circumstances, which again could be detailed.
Taking my own advice on brevity, there are several other points that have been omitted from this article to prevent it from being unwieldy.
To discuss the crafting of an effective CV in greater detail, or to explore potential career moves in Asia, the Middle East, Australia, South Africa, London or Offshore, we’d be glad to hear from you on email@example.com or