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All about jobs

All about jobs

By Adam Wakeling and Thomas Hobbs

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In the lead up to the LIV Legal Careers Fair here are some tips for job applications.

Advertisement example

Henry Tudor & Associates – Junior lawyer, family law

Henry Tudor & Associates is a boutique firm practising mostly in family law.

We are looking for a newly admitted solicitor with some experience or exposure to family law who would like to develop a career with us. We need someone who is a fast learner, will show initiative and can manage their own workload. Very strong written and verbal communication skills are essential, as is a caring and professional approach to clients. We will give you your own files to manage from the start, lots of court experience, mentoring, and plenty of exposure to all kinds of family law matters and broader legal issues as well. Please direct all inquiries or send an application to Jane Seymour at the contact details below.

This is not a template but intended as guidance only.

Cover Letter 

Download the LIJ article to view the cover letter example. (PDF)

This is what the firm is asking for. You may  also be successful if you are about to be  admitted or have a little bit of post-admission  experience, but it is unlikely they will consider  an application from a graduate without having  done PLT.

Address the specific requirements of the role in  your cover letter. You may not be able to address  them all, but you should be able to speak  to most.

Structure your cover letter as a proper  business letter. Refer, for example, to Australia  Post’s guide on how to write business letters  here: http://auspost.com.au/education/  letterwriting/students/business-letters.html.  Address the letter to the person named in the  advertisement, or contact the firm to find out  who to address it to.

Your cover letter will generally have three  paragraphs – one about you, one about the role  and one about the organisation to which you  are applying.

Use language that is plain, professional and  direct. Avoid legalese. Use generally understood  terms and avoid jargon specific to your  university or previous workplaces.

Demonstrate that you meet the requirements  of the role.

Do not simply re-state information that can be  easily seen in your CV or academic transcript.  Instead, highlight points that are relevant to  the particular job application. If the advertiser  is asking for responses to specific key selection  criteria, make them as obvious as possible, for  example, use bullet points. Not all of your skills,  attributes and experience will be relevant to  every role that you apply for. Talk about those  which are, using the advertisement and your  research into the organisation as a guide.

Be specific. General statements about your  teamwork, work ethic or other attributes do  not convey much useful information to the  recruiter.

The cover letter should not be longer than one  page and preferably much shorter for a junior  role. A short cover letter tailored to the specific  application is always more effective than a  longer one which is generic or obviously  padded-out.

Resumé

Download the LIJ article to view the resumé example. (PDF)

Your CV should begin with your name and contact  details. Your age, date of birth and gender are not  necessary.

If you include a personal profile make it short and  relevant to the job that you are applying for.

As with the cover letter, your CV should convey the  relevant points in as few lines as possible and not contain  unnecessary information. You can tailor your CV from  one application to another to achieve this.

A two-page CV should be sufficient for any graduate or  junior role.

The most important information should come first.

Generally this involves listing education and then work  experience in reverse chronological order. When applying  for a graduate legal role (as Catherine is here) you can  separate your work experience into “legal” and “non-legal”,  particularly if your legal experience is in a volunteer role or  pre-dates your most recent non-legal job.

Getting a job that will provide you with legal experience  can be very difficult. However, legal volunteering  experience, involvement in professional associations like  law student societies and LIV Young Lawyers, and doing  placements and internships are all good experiences that  you should highlight.

For highly-relevant experience, include three or four  specific examples of duties and matters which are deidentified  to protect confidentiality. Use the “STAR”  format – Situation, Task, Action, Result.

Have a small intro to the organisation if appropriate.  Structure your CV like a table so that the divisions  between the sections and sub-sections are clear. One  option is to create a table in Microsoft Word and then  colour the borders white so that they are invisible or  use the hide gridlines option.

Put more detail into achievements and experience that  is more recent, more relevant to the role you are applying  for, or directly related to your university studies. What  you did in high school or in retail jobs four years ago will  be less important.

Put more detail into relevant volunteer work.

Include interests if they are non-generic. Good examples show one or more of the following – initiative, team skills, focus and discipline, community involvement or expertise in another area.

You are, of course, a member of the LIV.


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