CV Tips from Jan Blair, HR Coach

Jan Blair was the Human Resources Coach at Russell McVeagh for 15 years, and prior to that the principal of Kristin School in Auckland. She has now established her own consulting, coaching and counselling business, and is known around the country as an expert on career advice and counselling. She will be holding very helpful application and interview skills workshops during the recruitment period at Otago University – keep an eye on your emails and the SOULS Facebook Page to find out when she is coming!

CV Tips.

1. Do your research on each firm you are applying for so that you can prepare a more personalised application which reflects their particular culture/values and requirements.
2. Many firms have tips for applications, CVs and interviews on their websites. Make sure you look for these to ensure your application documents meet their expectations.
3. If in the online application process the firm asks you to fill out some details that are already on your CV, still fill them out! Do not write “refer to my CV,” as a lawyer needs to learn to follow the instructions.
4. Have a testimonial or reference ready (school, university or work) to attach in your application.
5. Try to keep your CV to 2 pages.
6. Sell yourself! List the good grades you have received, and your other outstanding achievements.
7. Emphasise your cultural/sporting achievements, volunteering, and leadership roles. Firms are looking for well-rounded candidates.
8. List two referees at the bottom – but make sure you get their permission!
9. Let them know your interests. The recruiter likes to know that you are an interesting person, and that there is more to you than just study.
10. Attach a photograph. Make sure this is appropriate (i.e. not you in your ball gown or your passport photo). Find a photo that shows you smiling and looking approachable. Legally you do not need to give a photo but it is recommended.

Cover Letter Tips.

11. Spell the firm’s name and the HR person’s name correctly.
12. Use proper grammar.
13. If you are reusing the cover letter for applications to multiple firms, make sure you do not accidentally address it to the wrong firm, or leave a firm’s name in the cover letter.
14. Keep your cover letter to a page if you can.
15. Find out the head of HR?s name as this is usually the person who will be reading your cover letter. This can be easily found on the firm’s website. If you are desperate and have not been able to find a name address your letter to “the Recruitment Team”.

Interview Tips.

16. Research the firm – show them you are interested in what they do.
17. Prepare some questions to ask them.
18. Be on time, dress appropriately, remember their names, and relax! Be yourself and let your personality shine.

General Tips.

19. Check out nz.gradconnection.com for more information about available summer clerk and graduate positions.
20. For more tips and a wealth of information, check out the Law Students’ Careers Guide.

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