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Step-by-Step Guide To your Perfect In-House Legal CV

A friend of a friend recently asked for some help with their CV and transition into a more senior role. We put together a plan for them to kick off the process and based on their feedback thought it might be of value to others. Here it is.

Step 1

Before you write anything you will need to know your target companies and roles. What companies would you like to join? What sectors will welcome your skills and experience? What roles are you interested in? Where will you add the most value? Make quick notes.

Step 2

Research past vacancies at these companies at similar level. Google for “[title] [job] [sector] [location]” (for example General Counsel job pharmaceuticals UAE). If there are no vacancies available publicly for the sector, look at any sector.

What are they looking for? Skills, experience, qualifications. What kind of responsibilities are listed? Collect 3-10 most relevant examples, analyse them and break into chunks of information.

Step 3

On a blank piece of paper start writing what you have to offer to meet those requirements using the language of the adverts (do not use your past CV just yet – it will muddle your thoughts).

Example

The Job Advert for a legal role with a Pharmaceutical company lists the following requirement: Drafting and negotiating commercial agreements.

Your write:

Responsible for drafting and negotiating various corporate and commercial agreements: License and Supply Agreements, Service Level Agreements, Consultancy Agreements, Agency Agreements, Healthcare Professional Agreements, Sales and Marketing Agreements, Distribution Agreements, Sale of Dossier Agreements, Active Pharmaceutical Ingredient Supply Agreements, Warehousing and Logistic Services Agreement and NDAs.

Try to use as many industry- and role-specific keywords and as much of the language of the adverts as you can. Apart from increasing credibility, this will make sure that your CV will not be missed by an inexperienced recruiter (or indeed a machine search application some large agencies use).

Step 4

Your CV should work for you 24/7/365. Copy and paste the CV role-by-role into your LinkedIn profile. Make sure you keep the keywords / industry jargon – recruiters search for candidate using keywords.

Step 5

Consider changing your photo on LinkedIn. Use photofeeler.com to get objective feedback on the best shot to use. We tried it – and found out that our current photos are mostly rubbish!

Final thought – you don’t have to do it alone – ask others for feedback on your CV. It does not matter if they are lawyers or not, and try to think of someone who has changed jobs a few times – they will have valuable ideas.