Legal Recruitment from Ten-Percent Legal

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Skills Sections on CVs - waste of time

09.10.07 Skills Section on a CV

One thing that crops up a lot in recruitment is the use of Skills Sections on CVs.

These are the bane of every recruiter's working life (whether HR people in firms/companies or recruitment agents) - even solicitors with 10 years PQE still write them down.

An example would be:

"good interpersonal skills, able to communicate effectively and use transferable skills in a way to benefit the firm. Punctual, generous and with a good sense of humour."

I have read CV's with pages of this stuff on them, and can never understand why anyone with any common sense would not realise that there is absolutely no point including any of it on the CV.

According to many students I have spoken to over the years, careers advisers at various universities and colleges have said that this is the way you do your CV, and this is the sort of thing that employers want to see.

I must say that our approach (and that of other recruitment consultants I have spoken to) has always been that a CV should contain factual information only. I see many CVs prepared each week from some of the big agencies such as Badenoch & Clark and Michael Page, and they spend considerable time and effort on organising and structuring their cvs, probably more so than smaller agents. Every single one I have been sent over the years by candidates contains streams of factual information setting out numbers of files, caseloads, billing levels, types of law, any technical issues dealt with, anyone worked with on particular cases etc. I have never seen a prepared cv containing the sort of waffle I see on CVs from universities regularly.

A CV should contain objective information, not subjective. How do you know whether you have a good sense of humour? Who says you have good communication skills? This is partly why you attend interviews, so that the interviewer can gauge for themselves who you are, where you are coming from and whether you will fit in at that firm or company.

I am thinking of writing a letter to all the careers advisers in universities to ask them to consider this point, as i think it is so important - it can throw an employer off the scent and prevent them from seeing something really interesting and important.

So if you are writing a cv and reading this - I would not use bulletpointed lists or paragraphs of information about your skills set - I am not interested as an employer - I never read them - I could probably send a good one out myself saying that I have a good sense of humour, but this would be a complete lie!

For further details on CVs - we do actually sell a book called the "Complete Guide to Writing a Legal CV" which can be purchased on our website at

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