If written, structured and formatted correctly, your CV can be your ticket to interview. As a potential candidate for legal jobs, it is your most valuable asset.
Unfortunately, due to high numbers of qualified applicants, recruiters and hiring managers often spend very little time reading each CV they receive. To avoid having yours end up in the ‘no’ pile, the first half page of your CV must convince them that you are a promising applicant.
One of the most successful and efficient ways of getting – and keeping – the attention of a recruiter is by writing an impactful and persuasive personal statement tailored to the job at hand.
What is a personal statement?
Also known as a professional summary, the personal statement on your CV is a short, sharp paragraph no longer than 5 lines which encapsulates who you are, your work history, your significant achievements and why you are the right person for the role.
3 things to include in your personal statement
- A job title which reflects that of the job you have applied for
Label yourself with a relevant and universal title that reflects the title of the job you are applying for in order to show recruiters immediately that you have the background they are looking for.
If you have applied for a ‘Residential Property Solicitor’ role, present yourself as such rather than a ‘Property Solicitor’, ‘Real Estate Solicitor’ or simply a ‘Solicitor’. Equally, avoid any internal company jargon or abbreviations that recruiters may not know or understand.
- Your PQE level and relevant experiences
Clearly state how many years of experience or PQE you have gained so that recruiters can quickly determine whether you are likely to be a viable candidate. If the job you’ve applied for has any direct reports, highlight the management level responsibilities of your current role.
The job advert you applied to likely stipulated a set of experiences and expertise required to be considered for the job. If you do not show the recruiter that you tick these boxes, you are unlikely to pass on to the interview stage.
Use the job ad to your advantage, picking out some of the key role requirements and responding to them. For example, if the employer requests experience in commercial contracts, you might write “4 years of experience drafting, reviewing and negotiating a range of data protection and technology focused commercial contracts”.
- A demonstration of your value as an employee
In the personal statement on your law CV, you should give one or two examples from your career to date that demonstrate the value you will add if successful in your application.
As a Practice Lawyer, this might be the business development skills you used to onboard new clients or the fees you have generated for your current firm. Alternatively, an In-House Counsel may demonstrate value through their identification of commercial opportunities while a Litigator could discuss the results of a high-profile dispute they have successful settled.
Ensure that whatever you decide to include is relevant to what the employer is looking for and that you back up your claims with figures or evidence.
As with the rest of your CV, your personal statement should be concise, truthful and tailored specifically to each job you apply for. In essence, your personal statement should act as a response to the job advert and everything you include should relate to the responsibilities and requirements of the role at hand. By the time recruiters and hiring managers have read your personal statement, they should suspect you to be a viable candidate and be inclined to spend more time considering your CV.
If you have followed our personal statement optimisation tips and are ready to start applying, check out the latest jobs on TotallyLegal and upload your CV to get headhunted. Alternatively, if your CV still needs some work, browse the rest of our articles and advice.