With the growth of in-house legal departments and the majority of these roles being in the technology sector, it’s time for lawyers to make sure that their CVs are tech ready!
You may be surprised to hear that the in-house teams of some technology companies are behemoths – Amazon and Google among others have legal teams globally that rival the size of law firms like Davis Polk, Quinn Emmanuel, Debevoise & Plimpton, Milbank etc. In addition, today’s innovations are furthermore changing the face of the legal landscape – just have a look at the Watson project of IBM and its application in law and legal research. The future of legal research compared to even a decade ago is very, very different. The time is not far where law firms or legal teams of the future would no longer require junior lawyers to perform research, cross referencing etc. which then makes it all the more important to highlight on your CV what the companies are really looking to hire you for – your core skills and competencies!
Here are some quick tips to enhance your CV to keep up with these changing times:
Keep your audience in mind.
Your CV will likely end up in the inbox of an internal member of the HR and recruitment team who is used to seeing resumes of techies and self-professed IT geeks – a far cry from the dull and stuffy legal CVs that we have become accustomed to.
For example – take a look at this sample CV of Yahoo’s President and CEO Marissa Mayer. Whilst pie charts may not work for what you are trying to put across as a lawyer, note the clean layout, and the focus on strengths and achievements.
Whilst we usually advocate including a full transactions list on your Law Firm resume, 5 pages of transactions will likely be utterly incomprehensible to the hiring manager at a tech company! Try and keep your jargon to a minimum, and explain things clearly but concisely.
Skills, Skills, Skills
Your typical internal HR team will filter out potential candidates based on skills and keywords as they lack the technical understanding to judge you on anything else. Often the preliminary screening is entirely skills based. With this in mind try a more ‘skills’ based CV, splitting all this down into skills-based headings and going on to explain relevant key transactions. Headings could be something similar to:
- Delivered high quality and timely advice to clients on strategic, regulatory and practical aspects of deals
- Managed, analysed and optimised Risk giving high weightage to clients’ commercial objective
- Applied judgement to navigate complex cross border business and legal issues for clients, structured commercially viable solutions
- Successfully closed several cross border transactions and supervised teams in several jurisdictions under tight timescales
Successes and Failures
While you might be used to putting together a comprehensive transactions list, just consider the intent of ‘’WHY and WHAT’’ that establishes and highlight that.
Instead of just mentioning a cross border litigation in your Deal List and who you acted for, expand on the same and say things like ‘’worked collaboratively’’, ‘’successfully co-ordinated’’ and explain the outcome of it and how that came to be. Every HR team likes to understand a few key things: Are you a lateral thinker? Are you a leader? What were your successes? What are your failures and what did you learn from them.
Recognition in publications and industry directories such as Chambers and the Legal 500 is very prudent to mention. A tech company hirer may not always recognize the ground-breaking transactions you’ve worked on, but will however be impressed with any awards or recognition that you have received and any validation by a client or third party is crucial.
Tech companies also have a strong interest in your contributions and accomplishments outside of work unlike a law firm who may have a greater emphasis on you hitting 2000 billable hours. Perhaps you’ve had roles within industry bodies, speaking engagements, pro bono and charitable work which are all important to highlight as it shows you are a thought leader and are involved in the development of your community.
Many companies appreciate an enthusiasm about their product no matter what the department you are working in. Perhaps mention something pertinent in your covering letter – for example any genuine industry interest, or if you have used the company’s products/services. For example, we were recently working with a start-up where we didn’t even forward the CVs of any candidates who did not know of the client and hadn’t used their products before.
Your CV is not necessarily the only thing that your potential employers will look at when shortlisting for interviews – It is safe to assume that tech company staff are generally social media savvy. Before you send out your CV, it may be time to think about taking down those tweets about how your Partner is a dragon, the old Instagram photos of you passed out drunk with a traffic cone on your head or that raunchy blog you write in your spare time! Also, update your LinkedIn profile, add a professional photo, and add any speaking engagements or slides you’ve put together. Do a little ego surfing just to test out what your online profile looks like to a third party!
Need any more thoughts and suggestions? Feel free to contact us!
We place a high value on our relationships and work with a comprehensive list of clients which include international law firms, multinationals and financial institutions operating in Singapore and within the Asian region. We give an objective, impartial and honest advice on your career and we pride ourselves on the tailored recruitment solutions we offer.