With an average recruiter spending less than eight seconds to review a CV and with 75% of CV's not making past the applicant tracking system you really do not have much time to make an impact. Do you want to make sure your CV gets past the ATS and subsequently sparks recruiter's interest to read on? You have come to the right place because today we will take you through a step by step guide how to get past these hurdles by producing a winning career summary on your Law CV.
Career summary section
This section on your CV is often seen as the deciding factor whether a recruiter will read your CV further or not. Yet so many job seekers still do not use a career summary at the top of their CV. A successful summary will ideally cover the following:
1. Use an appropriate heading
Usually, recruiters are not so keen on 'career objective' personal objectives subheadings because it sounds that is about you as opposed to what you can bring to the prospective employer which is what the summary should be about. Use neutral subheadings such as professional summary or career summary to stay on the safe side.
2. Who are you
In a short sentence outline your current job title or at what stage of studies you are at. This is usually a great way to introduce yourself and lead the way to your relevant skills and experience for the job.
3. Keep it short and sharp
The summary must not exceed more than four lines. The aim is to give the recruiter a brief snapshot of your profile. A long summary, however, takes up unnecessary space on your CV and sets you in a negative light with from the outset.
4. Write it in the third person
The summary must not consist of words 'I' or me and so on. Always write in the third person as this is what the recruiters are used to see.
5. Showcase relevant key skills
You will need to identify two or three must have skills required for the job and demonstrate you have those skills and how you have developed them. The ATS will scan your CV for these skills, so by having them at the top in the summary, it will help you get past the ATS.
6. Include relevant keywords
To get past the ATS you will need to glean two to three keywords from the job description and include it in your summary. Often you see keywords in the spec such as 'highly-motivated' or 'results-driven'. It is precisely these keywords you want to include in your summary and throughout your CV to beat the ATS.
7. Demonstrate your experience
You also must include a sentence, which highlights your relevant experience for the job unless its an entry level position in which case you can focus on skills and achievements. If you have any noteworthy achievements include it in your summary as recruiters like achievers and is bound to spark their interest to read on.
8. Make reference to the relevant section on your CV
A good way to get the recruiter to read on your CV is by inviting them to scroll down to experience and or achievements sections. So you could say something along the lines of developed strong presentation skills in 2019 whilst a campus ambassador at Smith LLP. A specific sentence of this nature will entice the recruiter to read more about this role.
9. Make it easy to read
Use at least one line space but preferably 1.5 line to make your summary easy to read. If your CV is difficult to read it will be an instant put off for the recruiter and it would not get read.
10. Finish it strong
The last sentence on your summary should end positively by summarising how your skills and experiences, as well as other attributes, makes you an ideal candidate.
11. Ensure your CV is ATS friendly
We would recommend you either submit your CV in word or text rich format. Do not submit it in PDF as when the CV gets converted to PDF the style and presentation changes particularly if you have bullet points, which could make your CV less appealing to read.
Do not copy other career summary statements you find online. It will not make you stand out and it's unlikely to be tailored enough. Read the job description thoroughly to understand the key requirements, so you can tailor your summary to the job and demonstrate relevant skills and attributes.
To conclude, the importance of a career summary at the top of your CV cannot be underestimated if you want your CV to make that impact when a recruiter reads it. We would always recommend a punchy snapshot of your profile prominently at the top of your CV as this is the first thing a recruiter reads on your CV.
We will end this article with a question to readers. What are your reasons for using or not using a career summary on your CV? Please feel free to comment below and I will respond to your comments accordingly.
Legal recruiter and blogger @purelegaljobs