A big question at the moment from students is “What can I do?” – with lockdown meaning that in person work experiences are even harder to come by than they used to be, and not many firms adopting a virtual approach for various reasons this can leave you wondering how you can build your CV in such a difficult time!
Work experience has always been a difficult thing to come by in the Legal profession, but with a variety of lockdown measures in force all over the Country it’s harder than ever to find opportunities. However recruiters are aware of this!
When reviewing your CV and application form for Training Contracts recruiters and hiring managers won’t be expecting you to have a number of work placements and experiences during this time. The same level of experience you would normally get just isn’t available and this is something that is understood.
However that’s not to say you shouldn’t bother with trying to get some experience during this time. You may not be able to get Legal work experience in person, however there are still a variety of ways to boost your CV and to market yourself. Have a look online and see if there are any virtual placements that you can do, some of these are more in depth than others so make sure to do your research! And have a look in your local town to see if there’s anywhere you can get experience. Being a solicitor isn’t all about knowing the Law, it’s at heart a people business. So any experience you can get working with other people and dealing with the public is always useful, whether that’s a part time job whilst studying or some interesting volunteer work!
Now is a great time to brush up on your commercial awareness, although harder to put on a CV (unless you take part in a Commercial Awareness event) it will come in use when filling out an application.
Getting into the habit of doing research and keeping up to date with changes within areas of industry/Law and the effect they could have on the businesses that operate within that area when you’ve got time is a great idea! When exams come up and it’s time to apply to training contracts you’re unlikely to have much free time, but with more time in lockdown now this is a great opportunity to find out more about the topics that may affect the areas of Law you have an interest in.
Just like having more time to do some commercial awareness research, you’ve also got more time to research firms and areas of Law that may interest you.
There are so many different firms out there and areas of law that they cater to it’s good to know where your interests lie before applying to training contracts to save you time and energy. One of the points our Chairman always makes at insight evenings is that work is important, it’s one of the places you’ll spend most of your time and you’ll likely see your colleagues more than friends, so don’t work somewhere you don’t enjoy.
Although this is harder to find out during lockdown as you can’t visit these firms, you can research them, get in touch with people on LinkedIn who are working there or done work experience there and find out what it’s like. A lot of firms will have a strong social media presence, so have a look at the types of things they post. Is it just all about law with no recognition of hard work done or no social posts? Are they more focused on the public sector? Do they post in a way that seems honest, not just about the achievements and awards but also just about hard work that’s done?
Social media is an invaluable tool when it comes to researching a company, along with their company website and of course any recruitment social media/websites. It’s good to see if you can see a tie up in normal marketing and what recruiters for the firm say as it will give you an indication as to what the firm really values.
It’s also really important during this time that you look after yourself. Everyone has approached and gone through lockdown in different ways, what has been an opportunity for some to get more done to boost their CV may have been a time for others where just doing the day to day has been difficult. Good recruiters and hiring mangers will understand this!
If you’ve struggled over lockdown and the only thing that’s getting you through is your hobby, put information about it on your CV. If you’ve spent this time caring for family members or doing shopping for people, put it in your CV.
Whatever has been important to you over this time is a part of who you are as a person, and as our Chairman likes to say people buy from people. Clients will be coming to you as a solicitor not only because of the firm that you work in, but what you’re like to deal with. That’s why firms like us look for people instead of just qualifications. Whatever you’ve done over this time, whether it’s working on your CV or just helping your family get by or mentoring and supporting a friend, that’s a part of who you are so use the skills you’ve gained and shout about them.
(If you need any wellbeing ideas we did a blog on it here!)
Whatever you do during this time, this is an unprecedented time and everyone is going to be approaching it differently so don’t worry! If you need advice on how to put something into your CV feel free to get in touch with us