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Preparing your CV

7 March 2017

Put simply, your CV is who you are in three or four pages. It tells someone who hasn’t met you or spoken to you who you are. Needless to say, it’s critical to get it right!

A CV is also the first piece of drafting a prospective employer will see from you and is your opportunity to show how the skills you have developed to date are relevant to the job you are applying for. Your CV should be carefully drafted and tailored to each role you apply for and so we have put together some general tips as well as an example CV for you to get some pointers and tips.

Length

Keep your CV to around 3-5 pages (depending on your seniority and therefore number of roles and matters you need to describe). Your CV should be concise and most of the content should focus on providing some detail of the matters you have worked on that align with the requirements of the role.

Format

PERSONAL DETAILS
Put your full name, address, a professional, non-work email address (for example, not sexy1@hotmail.com) and a mobile phone number (take this opportunity to set up a professional sounding voicemail on your mobile if you haven’t already got one. Your default 10 second voice to text message service is a nightmare for recruiters and prospective employers during the interview process to use as it is difficult to leave a detailed message on).

EDUCATION / QUALIFICATIONS / ADMISSION DATE
List your education, actual date of admission (month and year at a minimum) and qualifications in reverse chronological order. Start with any ongoing study you are completing, put any Masters or post graduate qualifications you have, detail your undergraduate university degree and finally you may include your school education though this is not a must. If you have strong academic achievements or awards from your university studies include them here. Feel free to leave any achievements at primary school off too!

EMPLOYMENT HISTORY / KEY RESPONSIBILITIES
Detail in reverse chronological order the places you have worked (Firm/organisation, your title and the month/year you started and finished each role.

If you have had a number of roles in your career you might want to create a career chronology/summary and then provide details of what you have done in each role under a “Legal Skills” or “Key Responsibilities” heading. If you have not had too many jobs you may just want to list your key responsibilities under each job you have had.

Whichever way you set out this information, this is the most important part of your CV, the opportunity to show your relevant experience.

If there is a PD, job description or job advertisement with a list of requirements use this as a basis for tailoring your CV and list the most relevant things first. If you have a transaction bible of the matters you have worked on in your career to date this will be an easy exercise. If you don’t, we strongly suggest creating a transaction bible as it will help pull your CV together quickly.

Do not just list your job description here (eg. drafting pleadings, taking witness statements, drafting leases, due diligence). It goes without saying that you have performed these tasks. Rather, put some detail and colour into your CV by describing the types of matters you have worked on and your involvement in them. Where matters are on the public record include client names and quantum as this can add weight to your CV. We have included various examples for litigation, property, corporate and commercial matters in the example CV which follows.

INTERESTS
Interests are often used as an icebreaker in an interview and show your personality. Try to think about things that really interest you, not necessarily just the usual “travel, cooking, football”. If you have what might be seen as a quirky hobby or interest, don’t be afraid to put it in!

REFEREES
Put “Referees available on request” particularly where you anticipate using people from your current firm. This will ensure your referees will not be contacted without your prior consent.


Sample CV

YOUR FULL NAME
Home address:
Mobile:
Email (a professional, non-work email):

EDUCATION
Queensland University of Technology, ongoing
• Masters of Law

Queensland University of Technology, 2005
• Graduate Diploma of Legal Practice

University of Queensland, 2000 – 2004
• Bachelor of Laws (LLB) (Hons)

Bachelor of Arts (BA)
• Vice-Chancellor’s List for High Achievement, 2001, 2002, 2003, 2004.

ABC School, 1999
• OP1

ADMISSIONS & MEMBERSHIPS
Solicitor of the Supreme Court of Queensland, 2005
Solicitor of the High Court of Australia, 2006

CAREER SUMMARY

January 2012 – Present XYZ Law Firm, Brisbane Senior Associate
Jan 2008 – Dec 2011 XYZ Law Firm, Brisbane Associate
Jan 2005 – Jun 2007 XYZ Law Firm, Brisbane Solicitor

CAREER HISTORY

January 2012 – Present XYZ Law Firm, Brisbane Senior Associate

Responsibilities:

  • Acting for XYZ Corporation in an international mining acquisition worth $100m involving complex corporate restructuring steps and drafting of various transaction documents;
  • Undertaking due diligence investigations on an Australian technology company on behalf of an American entity in a merger transaction;
  • Providing commercial advice regarding corporate governance issues, such as director duties and drafting board charters;
  • ABC PPP: This project involved a complex suite of finance and subcontracting arrangements. My role included preparation of key subcontracts including flow-down of relevant provisions of the concession agreement, due diligence and reporting on legislative, regulatory and contractual issues and coordination of the legal team, including assisting in the commercial and financial close processes; and
  • Drafting share and asset sale agreements, services agreements, complex restructuring advices and franchising advices including consideration of ACCC issues.
Jan 2008 – Dec 2011 XYZ Law Firm, Brisbane Associate

Responsibilities:

  • Successfully resisted a challenge by a secured creditor of an adjudication by a Receiver of a mortgage as to a secured proof of debt of $10 million;
  • Appeared in the Full Federal Court of Australia in respect of the appeal of a decision at first instance in which the Federal Court of Australia upheld the adjudication of the Receiver of a secured creditors proof of debt;
  • Successfully negotiated a professional negligence claim in excess of $1.5million against a big 4 accounting firm prior to proceedings being commenced; and
  • Successfully obtained an injunction on behalf of a Queensland law practice to restrain employees that law practice from removing documents and restrained the former employees from representing clients of the law practice.
Jun 2007 – Dec 2007 Travel, etc. Explain any gaps in CV between jobs
Jan 2005 – Jun 2007 XYZ Law Firm, Brisbane Solicitor

Responsibilities:

  • Acted for ABC Pty Ltd regarding its mixed use development in the Brisbane CBD worth $412m;
  • Advising XYZ Pty Ltd on the sale of X commercial property 123 Street, Brisbane worth $85m;
  • Acted for CDE as the Receiver of a $50m shopping centre, on the Gold Coast, Queensland;
  • Advising ABC Pty Ltd on commercial and retail leasing matters in Brisbane and South East Queensland;
  • Assisting various “start-ups” – advising on legal structures to acquire, hold and protect assets and/or conduct business (e.g. Companies, Trusts, Self-Managed Super Funds (SMSFs) and Partnerships) and establishing these structures; and
  • Assisting with business and investment transactions following “start-up” phase – restructuring, compliance, disposals & acquisitions, internal management and funding.

PRE-GRADUATE WORK EXPERIENCE

2003-2005 XYZ Law Firm, Law Clerk
2003 ABC Company, Sales Representative

INTERESTS
Make sure you put down perhaps 4-6 different interests. But avoid exclusively using the usual “vanilla” interests such as travel, reading, sport etc. Sure, put a few down, but of the 4-6 make a couple genuinely unique (eg an interest in building model planes or cooking eastern European deserts…something that will make conversation in an interview!).

REFEREES
Available on request.