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When are Careers Advisers and CV Experts going to stop telling people to include skills and other waffly nonsense on a CV?

You may be able to judge from the above title that we are slightly biased on this point, but having just read through my 30th CV for the day and getting ready to throw the monitor out of the window and bang my head on the desk repeatedly, I have to ask the following question: Which idiot told careers advisers that employers like to see skills in the profile section of a CV? Anyone want to own up? I can't see any logical reason for including them. Let me give you some examples from the CVs I have been reading today.  

An enthusiastic and ambitious graduate with broad work experience and focused on building a career in the legal profession.

This candidate is in fact a highly experienced property fee earner, but my first reaction having read this would be to delete the email and CV.  

An experienced and highly competent civil commercial litigation solicitor who works well under pressure to consistently meet strict deadlines. Fluent and effective communicator with strong attention to detail, focused on achievement of objectives. Hardworking and reliable professional with a breadth of different experience since qualification. In the wider community in particular known to be determined, flexible and discreet. Now seeking alternative roles to reflect capability and experience.

This is a highly experienced litigation solicitor looking for locum work.

I am a conscientious & adaptable worker who enjoys working within a team environment as well as having the opportunity to work on my own initiative. I quickly absorb new procedures & techniques in order to meet deadlines & budget controls. I’m personable, presentable & articulate with the ability to reach all set targets. I am a loyal employee & a consistent achiever. I’m a good communicator & a reliable hard working individual. 

This is a legal cashier.

All of the above have one problem - none of these entries give me any evidence, hard or soft of their experience or ability.

I can call myself hardworking, but any of our candidates who tried calling this morning and discovered that I was playing golf may beg to differ!

I can also call myself a 'good communicator' or 'personable', but really who cares? Am I really bothered if someone calls themselves a good communicator? No! I dont care one bit.

Am I interested if someone has conducted over 200 hearings in the County Court in the last 12 months and has personal recommendations from satisfied clients? Yes, absolutely!

I know there are lots of CV writing companies out there who prepare CVs with this type of waffly nonsense on it and numerous experts on the web, but please, please, please dont do it. You are wasting space on your CV and the time of the reader of your CV. We don't care. We just want to see hard evidence of your experience and ability. Dont waste our time or yours...

Jonathan Fagan is a solicitor (non-practising) and MD of Ten-Percent Legal Recruitment - Online Legal Recruitment for Solicitors, Legal Executives, Fee Earners, Support Staff, Managers and Paralegals. Visit our Website to search or download our Vacancy Database.

Our Legal Careers Shop has eBooks on CV Writing for Lawyers, Legal Job Interview Guide, Interview Answers for Lawyers, NQ Career Guide, Guide to Finding Work Experience or a Training Contract and the Entrants Guide to the Legal Profession. To visit our Sale/Clearance section please click here.


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