Advice from Alex Horner- Recruitment Consultant at Investigo
With training contract deadlines fast approaching and summer internships at the ready, some of you will be preparing for interviews or working on your CVs over the summer period. This week I spoke to Alex Horner who works as a recruitment consultant in the city, recruiting change and transformation professionals to many of the UK’s biggest and well known consumer businesses such as Tesco, Mars Chocolate and Camelot.
Whilst Alex does not work in the legal sector, I thought it would be great to feedback exactly what it is that recruiters look for, to our members. Alex previously recruited in Front Office banking for the likes of Rothschild and Canaccord and in the Chemicals sector for BASF, so has a broad understanding of what different clients and senior level stakeholders look for when reviewing CV’s and interviews. Check out the full article here for some of his top tips for getting your application noticed.
- What makes a good CV?
Keep it concise and to the point – 2 pages is enough. Highlight your education, relevant work experience, a short personal statement and extra-curricular activities that you partake in that you think will make you stand out. Make sure you include the key achievements from each bit of work experience you have. In the legal world this could be specific cases that you helped on or improvements you made to general administration efficiencies if you were clerking. Bullet point these and make them easy to read, recruiters don’t want to read paragraph after paragraph of text, as on average, a recruiter tends to spend about 5 seconds looking at a CV as the volume that they receive for any one role can be in the hundreds if not thousands of applications.
- How best should a candidate prepare for an interview?
This very much depends on the type of interview, however most importantly, do your research! Research the company and into the individuals that you will be meeting. Nowadays there is a plethora of readily available information on the internet from various sources including LinkedIn or specific Law Firm/Chambers websites. Knowing a bit of background about who you are meeting should help put you at ease, and may also open some conversational topics. For example, you may have mutual contacts or unknowingly have taken part in the same sporting/charity activity. Knowing the business that you are going to interview for is just as important, no one wants to be that person who gets asked the question ‘why is it that you want to join company?’ and can’t muster up a good enough answer simply because you don’t know enough about the business. Look at specific topics that are currently prominent, for example, the company’s reaction to Brexit. A quick google search on the company name under the news tab of most search engines, should give you some interesting articles to reference.
- What do you think clients are looking for?
This has to be taken on a case by case basis for each business, however each company usually has a set of values that they strive to adhere to, which are normally easily accessible on their website. This is a good starting point, as is the job description – I often sit down with candidates and compare the job spec with their CV; if there are any gaps between the requirement and their experience we then think of transferable skills or experience that can be used to fill the gap in preparation for questioning in the interview.
- How can you stand out from the rest?
If you are well prepared and have researched the business you should be able to build rapport with your interviewer(s) reasonably quickly. I always recommend that candidates take a handful of well thought-out relevant questions in with them and make them specific to the firm and role you are applying for. Ensure they are aligned with the businesses current affairs or topics of interest. Something along the lines of “how do you envision the firm will look post Brexit given that EU law may or may not be relevant once we leave?” will come across better than, “how long do employees get for lunch?”. If you can provoke thought and good conversation, you’re much more likely to be remembered amongst the other candidates.
- Do you have any “top tips” for our members who will be tweaking their CVs this summer or attending interviews?
Make sure your CV is relevant for the position you are applying for, it is well worth spending 10 minutes or so tailoring your CV and cover letter to the position, to give you the best possible chance. If you are applying for a role which is looking at Civil Law, your experience as a gardener over summer isn’t likely to be relevant but any internships or degree projects you’ve been a part of will be, so highlight these.
Written by Sophie Terrington – OULS Careers Coordinator