Be their type on paper: CV tips

Posted in Blog on 18 Jul 2018

Hiring Managers far from bumble through the application shortlisting process, with it taking on average 6 seconds to decide if a CV is a yes or no.

Simply, your CV should represent the best version of you and shouldn’t compromise on details of the qualities that make you uniquely suited to the position. Generic cliché’s may seem part and parcel of the application process and will probably remain part of recruitment lingo but can often do more harm than good, especially when the reviewer has a stack of applications that are almost indistinguishable.

Our Recruitment Consultants share their thoughts on how you can be a hirers type on paper by identifying which buzzwords and phrases you should avoid listing in your CV / application and offering some alternative options…

“hard worker” 

A hirer will want a hard-worker, why employ someone who isn’t? However, this is statement is ambiguous and relatively unquantifiable. Your efforts will have had pay-offs and in turn these successes provide a benchmark of your quality as a worker. Are you consistently diligent, efficient, driven, have a positive attitude? Emphasise not on what you have done but instead the value that you have delivered. Provide examples of how your hard work has had a positive impact on performance at individual, team and business level and use active rather than passive language to back these up.

For instance:

  • Active: My department created 15% revenue growth (year to date)
  • Passive: 15% revenue growth was recorded in our department across this year so far. 

  • Active: After just six months, I earned a promotion to manager and now oversee the work of four fee-earners. 
  • Passive: A promotion to manager was given to me after six months in the role. 

Jon-Paul Hanrahan

Head of Corporate & Commercial
0161 233 6360

Jon-Paul has been with Douglas Scott since its inception and has played a major role in the company's strategic direction, building the brand, and developing relationships with law firms across the world. With over 20 years’ experience working as a legal recruiter partnering with major international law firms and In-house departments at FTSE250 and Fortune500 companies.  Jon-Paul now leads the Corporate & Commercial team both nationally and internationally.

In recent years, Jon-Paul has advised on several senior lateral hires and team moves and has developed a deep understanding of the global flow of leading lawyers predominately across Europe, Asia-Pacific and the Middle East.

Jon-Paul impressed me from our first meeting. He spent a lot of time working out what was best for me and then presented 2 excellent opportunities. I would definitely recommend him to senior lawyers. I trusted his advice and he came up with the goods. A pleasure to work with.

Legal500 Recommended Environment & Planning Partner  

“team player”

All roles require and necessitate teamwork, even if you predominantly work alone using your own initiative it’s likely that your work contributes on a wider scale and relates to the positions of other people. Essentially, it’s rare that you would not have developed any teamwork-based skills, even if you’re not the overt the “team player” many claim to be.

With teamwork being a hallmark of most modern jobs, it’s expected that being a team player is part of your arsenal of skills. Therefore, listing it as a positive trait doesn’t help you stand out. Instead, you should focus on particular and exemplary instances of effective teamwork as well as stating how these examples demonstrate why these make you a good candidate for the position.

  • My team have collectively surpassed our team targets by over 50% (on average) for the year so far. 
  • Alongside my fellow charity committee members, I have helped to raise a total £8,000 for charity through the co-ordination of several internal and external events.

The counter argument here is that so-called team players unselfishly and heroically make sacrifices on an individual level for the benefit of their team. Whilst such passion is a great attribute, team achievement shouldn’t come at the expense of one of its members but be built on equality and be a benefit of unity.

Craig Heywood

Executive Director
0161 233 6360

Craig initially joined Douglas Scott in 2010 at the beginning of his recruitment career, focusing on the Commercial and general Private Practice market in the London area for over 2 years. He then moved to an international recruitment agency to head up their National Insurance and Personal Injury department situated in the North West. Craig re-joined Douglas Scott in 2017 to head the Insurance and Personal Injury market on a national basis across the UK. He was nominated as the Best Recruiter of the Year in 2015 at The Manchester Business Awards and more recently won Talent & Recruiter of the Year at the Manchester Young Talent Awards 2017.

"I worked with Craig for a number of years and found him professional and tenacious in his approach and support to fill our vacancies- a true recruitment partner that understood the business. Working with Craig was a pleasure, I would highly recommend him."

Senior Resourcing Co-ordinator | Top 50 UK Law Firm

“highly motivated / enthusiastic”

There’s nothing necessarily wrong with wanting to highlight your enthusiasm or a love for your career! If anything, energetic and invigorative qualities are incredibly desirable. Used well and alongside evidence such as a promotion or a strategic move these phrases work. However, if dropped into your CV in an isolated context it doesn’t have the same effect.

The implication is that you are progression orientated and have a desire to achieve, but to achieve what? 

You can expand on the phrase more specifically by (where relevant) detailing your goals and clearly detailing your progression to date. If invited for interview, reference how your aspirations align with the priorities of the business more specifically.

If you write in an engaging manner, then your enthusiasm should be evident. Although this should not come at the expense of being concise and professional, especially in terms of tone.

Amy Turner

Divisional Head
0113 467 7571

Amy joined Douglas Scott in November 2010 and has extensive experience covering the Manchester and Yorkshire markets. She currently manages the North West desk and recruits from Legal Assistant level up to Partnership level and deals with key client accounts on a nationwide basis. Amy returned from maternity leave in early 2017 and dove straight back to work, managing a large Master Vendor account as well as its dedicated team of consultants. Amy has been in recruitment since June 2004 and before making the move into legal recruitment she worked in the accountancy and finance sector. She graduated with a Public Relations Degree from the University of Lincoln and before this studied at Harrogate Ladies College. In her spare time, she cares for her young daughter Evie. 

"I am very grateful to Amy. She was professional but also encouraging and supportive in a very brief space of time. She most definitely goes the extra mile. Amy made it very easy for me to be positive and think about my attributes, which had a knock-on effect when I had my interview." 

Legal Secretary | Leeds

“dedicated” / “committed”

Both these words come under the spotlight, again for their relative vagueness. For one, it is expected that you will be committed to your position. Furthermore, if you are leaving your current role in search of another job elsewhere your claim of dedication could be perceived as somewhat contradictory. More often than not commitment does not need to be stated.

Listing long periods of employment history or providing clear examples of your experience and market knowledge should in itself demonstrate a long-standing interest in your chosen field.

Specifically state what you are dedicated or committed to – is it a particular field or practice area, generating growth and developing business, engaging with new clients, promoting equal opportunities and diversity, championing an inclusive and equal work environment or self-development? 

Emily Flewitt

Senior Recruitment Consultant
0203 846 3071

Emily joined Douglas Scott in March 2017, initially as part of the Master Vendor team of consultants focusing on the recruitment for one specialised client account. Emily went on to join the National Support desk where she concentrated on business support roles within law firms. Currently Emily works on the National Insurance desk covering the South West region working with a range of small regional practices, boutique firms and larger national practices including well-established departments as well as emerging firms. Emily graduated from the University of Central Lancashire in 2016 and studied Criminology and Criminal Justice. Previous to this, she completed her A-levels in Business studies, ICT and Sociology. 

"Emily is extremely professional, helpful and really approachable. I found her a delight to communicate with. If it wasn’t for her I wouldn’t have put myself forward for a particular role. She deserves a big thank you for helping me."

Client Development Executive | London

For more insight on CVs tips check out our advice page and infographics. You can view our latest vacancies here to send your newly updated CV directly to one of our expert consultants. Contact us on 0161 233 6360 for more information.

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