I commonly get asked about appropriate CV content and whether achievements should be included. I strongly believe that achievements are a powerful tool not only in securing an interview – but in controlling certain aspects of the interview also.
Offering 2 – 3 achievements to support your key experience is a good way to highlight your relevant and unique selling points (USP’s). If placed correctly on your CV they can draw the focus of an interview allowing you to give some of your best examples at a key point in the process.
What sort of achievements should you include?
For the sake of thoroughness, I want to individually discuss achievements from the perspective of a job seeker approaching roles in Practice and separately in Industry along with non-work related achievements.
Achievements for roles in Practice:
A primary function of a fee earning solicitor is to generate fee income, usually to a multiple of their salary. What this reveals about the focus of achievements is that if appropriate you should give mention to the commercial output of your desk. If you have achieved target for the previous year(s) then it is a good idea to highlight this.
If you have been involved in business development or have cross sold accounts then this can be highlighted along with any tender activity you were responsible for.
Beyond this it is worth highlighting any publications, blogs / ezines or training you took responsibility for. If you happened to improve any business functions or create greater efficiencies this can be useful to include.
What you want to get across is that you are not only technically capable – but also commercially sensitive to the demands of the practice environment.
Achievements for in-house roles
Unlike the practice market, when you move into an in-house role you generally are no longer measured against your fee earning capacity but rather your ability to manage and improve a legal function. Your achievements should reflect this and go in the reverse of the above.
Good achievements to highlight on your CV for in-house applications include any operational improvements such as implementing new systems or improving areas of best practice. If you have provided internal or external advice that has resulted in cost savings it would be ideal to anecdotally describe this within 1 or two sentences.
Good examples of customer service are also useful if it falls under the category of achievement and examples of client retention are always reflected positively. Furthermore if a piece of advisory work you performed was highly successful for a client you can (where fully anonymous or in the public domain) provide a brief outline.
Non work achievements / Interests
High performance outside of work can have a positive influence on certain hiring managers. Any sport or extra-curricular achievements regardless of the field should almost always be included.
At the very least I would generally include interests even if you leave out the achievements. You will never be refused an interview for listing your interests, but on occasion they will be used as an ice breaker at the outset of an interview which can have a positive effect.
The only exception to including interests would be activities which may cause offence (blood sports etc.,).
It is imperative during the interview process that key strengths and achievements are identified to a potential employer as these can have a significant bearing on the final decision. Your scope to negotiate terms and conditions are only enhanced by showing you have initiative and commercialism and achievements are an ideal avenue to demonstrate this.
For more blogs, a list of current jobs and publications visit our legal recruitment page.