Top 5 CV tips for Legal Secretaries and PAs

Top 5 CV tips for Legal Secretaries and PAs

Published on 10th November 2014

With the rapid rise of social media over the last decade, especially LinkedIn, many people are questioning whether a written CV is really as important in securing a role as it used to be.

For a Legal PA or Secretary, a CV is not only a chronological order of your past experience; it is also very much an example of your work. Attention to detail, communication skills and even creativity can all be gauged by reading someone's CV. 

It might sound crazy, but even one spelling mistake or punctuation error could prevent you from securing your dream job. Google's Head of Human Resources, Laszlo Bock, has recently revealed that he immediately deletes any CV with a spelling mistake, punctuation error or grammatical error. Considering this is a company that, at times, can receive up to 50,000 CVs per week and approximately 58% of these CVs will have some sort of spelling or grammatical mistake, it all of a sudden becomes very clear how important it is to ensure that your CV is error free!
Here are my top 5 tips on making sure your CV doesn't immediately land in the 'no pile':

1. Check, double check and then check again!

It might sound obvious yet so many people make the common mistake of just adding to their CV and not checking it through again from start to finish.

Things like past/present tense mix-ups and simple spelling errors can be avoided by reading through the whole document each time. Try reading it from bottom to top, as suggested by Laszlo Bock. Revising the normal order helps you to focus on each line in isolation.  

2. Make the first page count

There is much debate on how long a CV should be, however most employers will agree that the first page is your chance to stand out from the rest. As a PA or Secretary, your CV is the first example of your work. If you are going to start with a profile or key achievements then keep them short, snappy and to the point.

The main objective of your CV is to showcase your experience, so you want to make sure that this is highlighted on the first page. Keep your experience clear and relevant to the role by utilising bullet points to highlight your main duties and achievements.  

3. Continuity is key

Something that is missing on a large amount of the CVs I review is continuity and formatting. For me, this demonstrates a complete lack of attention to detail and it is something that can be rectified very simply.

The main errors I see are fonts changing throughout the CV, bullet points and titles that are not aligned, date formats changing from numbers to words and even spacing between paragraphs. These are all very simple errors that can hold you back in the application process. Try getting a second opinion from a friend, they may be able to spot something that you have missed.

4. Don’t use a generic CV template 

Remember that a CV is a personal document, and as a PA or secretary, it is a direct representation of you and your work. 

Ensure you tailor your CV to each individual role and that any skills the job advertisement specifically asks for are highlighted. Tailoring your CV to make it personal to the role you are applying for will set you apart from the crowd.

5.  Tell the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth

Most employers and recruiters are vigilant in checking details about new employees.  Falsifying qualifications or previous work experience could get you fired and even lead to legal action, so it certainly isn’t worth the risk for the sake of your future career.  It is better to instead focus on highlighting skills you are good at and provide good examples of your actual work experience rather than twisting the truth. 

Remember, your CV doesn’t necessarily need to meet every requirement listed in the job advert, but it does need to be relevant and most importantly, accurate.

Follow these steps every time you make a change and it could make the difference between a 'yes' or 'no'.