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Top tips for Newly Qualified Solicitors

by Chloe Cameron | 16 August 2021

Finding a legal role in this current climate can be a long and difficult process. Many junior lawyers at the start of their careers are being hit considerably hard, as they don’t have the all-important experience that many employers are deeming essential.

This is particularly true within the legal sector, with newly-qualified solicitors often feeling stuck on where to turn for advice. Here Consultant Chloe Cameron has shared her top tips from writing a CV and applying for roles, right through to choosing a job from a range of offers.

Applying for jobs – your CV:

  • It’s really important when applying to jobs that your CV looks good and that it is tailored to the job you’re applying for – i.e. it showcases your relevant  experience for the job. This is particularly important for NQ/junior lawyers because in your training you might have covered multiple areas of law (e.g. four seats in your training contract), but you may be most interested into going into one of those areas for your next role.
  • There’s no point having tonnes of info on the CV from all the areas you’ve done if you’re only applying for one area (e.g. property law). It is therefore our suggestion that you tailor your CV to the job description and make sure it really showcases your property experience. Make sure this part of your experience is the first thing the employer/recruiter sees on your CV employment history section and make sure it’s very detailed in this area. You can lose some details from your other areas of law that aren’t relevant to property law.
  • Within this, make sure most complex things you’ve done are at the top, ending with less complex duties at the bottom (e.g. admin tasks). 

View video from Chloe where she shares her fist tip on how to tailor your CV to help you to secure your dream role! 

Interview stage:

  • Interviews are nerve-racking for anyone but the way you’ll come out ahead it to prepare, prepare, prepare!
  •  The difference between a good/average interview and an excellent one is using examples – this substantiates the claims you’re making on your CV and in the interview.
  •  Need to bring in examples are every opportunity and best way of incorporating examples into interview answers is using STAR method (situation, task, action, result). This is a widely used method and I didn’t go into it in my video, just mentioned in passing. Most people should know what this is already.
  • Of course we need to try and answer every question and to the best of your ability, but if you don’t know something or haven’t done the thing the interviewer is asking about, then don’t lie! Equally, don’t just say you don’t know. You need to explain that you’ve not done it (or not done that much of it) but then turn it into a positive and either talk about something similar/related that you’ve done, or talk about how while it’s not something you’ve had the opportunity to do, it’s something you’re keen to pick up, and talk about relevant personal qualities to make up for this skill gap - how you’re hard-working, enthusiastic, fast-learner etc.
  • Technical knowledge in interviews is very important of course, but the way you come across (personality/attitude/willingness/intelligence etc) can be as important. This is what might make the difference between you and another candidate.

View video from Chloe where she shares her second tip on what to expect during the interview stage and how you can turn an average interview into an excellent one.

Offer stage – what now? How to choose right job?:

  • How do you know what role is right for you? How do you know which job to accept?
  • This actually needs to be thought about way before this stage ideally. You need to know what you’re looking for and what your priorities are, because some things are more important to some people than others. 
  • Factors that might influence your decision: day-to-day duties in the role; what area of law it is; sector (e.g. public sector, private firm); location; flexibility; salary; organisation (size, values, team); progression, training – it really could be anything! 
  • You need to have a good think about these, ideally from the beginning of your job search,  so that when you get to offer stage you’re confident in your decision. Equally, I appreciate priorities might change over the course of the recruitment process, perhaps in unexpected ways, so it’s worth constantly checking in with yourself in terms of your priorities. E.g. you might think salary is the most important thing but after interviewing somewhere with a lower salary than you were looking for, you might really love the sound of the job and progression and this might shift what you originally thought was most important for you. 

View our third and final video from Chloe where she shares her tips for the offer stage of the interview process and if you have multiple job offers, how you can decide which job is the right one for you.

If you are currently looking for a legal role, please search our latest legal roles. If you are interested in discussing this topic further or have any questions, please feel free to contact me on 0161 834 1642 or email me at chloe.cameron@sellickpartnership.co.uk