Thanks to all our readers, followers and connections for our best year ever! All the best for a cool holiday season! We trust you will find this our last blog of 2017 to contain some valuable takeaways!

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The holidays are usually filled with getting together with family and friends, last-minute gift shopping, Boxing Day madness and plenty of holiday cheer.

But the holiday season is also a great time to update your CV and online profile and get a headstart on the New Year!

I often find that candidate resumes do not reflect their current situation and need to be reworked. Many resumes have clearly not been looked at or meaningfully updated in several years or more. LinkedIn profiles are often outdated and don’t dovetail with the candidate’s resume or firm bio.

Take some time over the holidays to have a good look at your CV, LinkedIn, Facebook, Law Society profile, and your law firm bio etc!

TIDY IT UP!

Although you may have heard this advice before, it is still worth repeating. The clarity and effectiveness of your CV are essential indicators of your professional persona and personality. A CV is a window into the soul and experience of the candidate and a poor or uninspiring resume will most often result in a premature stoppage in a candidate’s forward progress in the hiring process.

If you’ve had the same CV for several years it is likely that you would want to make some changes to it anyway. The more we learn and progress in life the more changes we experience. You will likely want to tighten up the wording or rephrase the bullets because you have found a better way to present and express the information you’d like to share with a potential employer. You may also have a clearer idea of where you want to go in the future. If you now have a specific job or legal specialty in mind, it will be much easier to tailor your CV and online persona to fit your defined goals more clearly and eloquently.

EASY TO READ

Your CV should be easy to navigate and a pleasure to read. Think about the fonts you are using, the layout, and the density of the text. You don’t want to overwhelm the reader with too much information. Use bullet points, spaces and paragraph breaks to help you break up the text.  For a lawyer job in Toronto, Vancouver or elsewhere in Canada you will want to stick to the classic fonts, black and white layout, and a fairly conservative outline. Use short blocks of text and keep your resume to two pages max.

You will also want to stay away from any unnecessary information. If you are an experienced lawyer, your old summer jobs or law school extracurricular activities will probably be largely irrelevant. If you are a junior lawyer with a few years post-Call experience, make sure your current job experience gets maximum play. An over lengthy section on your articling experience may overshadow your current lawyer job experience.

EDIT, EDIT, EDIT

Your CV should be free of grammatical and spelling mistakes, but it should not be overly formal.

Punctuation at the end of each bullet is not necessary. The use of the articles ‘a’ and ‘the’ throughout your resume are not necessary either unless the sentence would sound awkward without the article in that particular instance.

A good Interests & Activities section in your CV will show that you are a well-rounded candidate who would complement the employer’s existing team. It will also serve as a conversation starter and the best way for the interviewer to get a feel for you quickly before and during the first interview.

HIGHLIGHT SKILLS

It is important to highlight professional and life experience qualifications that showcase you are well suited for the job. If for example one of your interests is French, that is something you should mention, especially when applying for a legal job in Toronto or Ottawa. Other career skills, such as public speaking or conference presenting are always worth mentioning because they can give you a leg up over other candidates.

Have a trusted friend, especially someone in the legal profession, take a look at your CV and give you their comments or suggestions. Ask them if there are parts of your resume that are not immediately clear or that they had to read twice in order to understand what you were trying to say or the point you were trying to get across. Subtleties and implied meanings have no place in your resume. Save them for your next novel!

A resume must be clear on a quick read and flow naturally and coherently. The reader should not have to read any part twice or jump back and forth in order to figure out your timeline or how your various jobs, academia or other activities fit together.

ONLINE PERSONA

Your online profile is extremely important. You should definitely have at least some online presence, a LinkedIn profile especially. Make sure that your online profile dovetails with your resume and is up-to-date.

DON’T WAIT FOR SPRING…

Prepare for future opportunities by fixing up and fine-tuning your CV and online presence over the holidays. Once you get back to work in January things will be too hectic to do so and there will be no time for quiet reflection and creativity.

Preparation is key to professional and personal success!