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How to stand out in a sea of CVs

How to stand out in a sea of CVs

It is a competitive market, with employers often receiving hundreds of CVs, and in these tough times it is important yours stands out from the others and engages the people reviewing it, writes…

It is a competitive market, with employers often receiving hundreds of CVs, and in these tough times it is important yours stands out from the others and engages the people reviewing it, writes Fiona McKell

You have about 30 seconds to convey, your academic credentials, the quality and breadth of your experience with respected organisations and other skills which may be relevant to the position being applied for.

All your main selling points should be on page one. Don't waste space. Put your name at the top of the CV, centered. Your contact details can go along the bottom of the page in a footer. Don't bother with a cover sheet or fancy or coloured type face as this just wastes space. Next, headings - professional qualifications (admission, jurisdiction and month and year). After this should come education listing your university and degree, dates attended and bullet points for awards, honours and estimated or actual standing in class.

Employment is next. Put the name of your current organisation and position held, plus dates, a sentence describing your employer and a few sentences describing your role and type of work undertaken with a few highlights. Refer to your synopsis of legal experience for further information.

Follow the same format for previous legal employment experience. You can then have headings dealing with languages, publications/seminars, previous non legal employment experience, visa status/citizenship, interests and extracurricular activities. All of this may take you on to the second page of your resume.

Next comes your synopsis of legal experience - this can run to a further two or three pages. Break it down with headings, by work type (eg corporate, commercial, IP etc). Consider your legal career as a whole, not necessarily in chronological order or by firm, and start with your strongest experience, in the area that you are seeking a job. Put both large and small transactions to show off the range of your work - be sure to spell out your skills and responsibilities.

Be prepared to have numerous versions of your resume - each tailored to specific jobs you are applying for.

Good luck!

- Fiona McKell is head of Marsden International's Australian practice.

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