How to write the perfect LLM CV
So you’ve worked hard, completed your LLM and are very proud of it. Now it’s time to put it to work! Your brand new qualification should enhance your CV and boost your employability, but it’s not enough to slap the letters ‘LLM’ onto your existing CV and hope it impresses recruiters; with more and more candidates boasting postgraduate qualifications you may find it is necessary to spend some time rewriting your CV to give it a chance at the top of the pile.
The keyword you should keep in mind is ‘professional.’ As you know, law is a conservative field so the language, tone and presentation of your CV should be appropriate to the profession’s traditional, low-key values.
What you should have in your LLM CV
One of the most important things to have in your CV is what the prospective employer is looking for – a good reason to hire you. This means making sure your CV reflects the skills and experience that a particular employer is seeking, so you might have to review your CV before sending it out, tweaking it here and there if you need to. In other words, your CV should have information would be of real interest to your audience.
If you studied a specialism during your LLM, highlight relevant modules. So for instance if your LLM was in Intellectual Property and you are applying to work for a retail giant with an online presence, highlighting your grades in the Cyberlaw module could grab their attention. Similarly, if you are applying to a media house, mention your dissertation on regulation around newsgathering, rather than merely stating ‘LLM Intellectual Property.’
Include achievements not just responsibilities, and provide specific examples. Include figures where possible; were you responsible for any budgets, however small? Did you improve any process, if so can you measure that achievement in terms of a percentage increase in efficiency for instance? If you don’t have significant work experience then your educational achievements could still be presented in figures; were you in the top 2% of your class for instance?
A bullet point summary of your experience at the top could be a powerful selling point, if you keep it short and simple. This is different from the flowery mission statement that appears in many CVs (see ‘what you should leave out’, below.)
Provide up-to-date contact details with a professional-sounding email address. If your email address is something silly or playful like email@example.com, set up a new email account fast!
What you should leave out of your LLM CV
A CV is meant to capture the essence of your professional life so it’s not entirely necessary to put down your entire life history; be selective. Interviews provide the opportunity to let the employer know more about you while your CV is supposed to tempt them into inviting you for one. Leaving out flowery statements, for instance, mission statements such as “I’m a creative go-getter who gets things done”, will save you valuable space.
Write without using pronouns and avoid using the word ‘I’ (I did this, I did that.) Lies and embellishments should be avoided at all costs. It may be tempting to cast yourself in a better light but if it is dishonest it could catch up with you one day.
Don’t use jargon that might bewilder recruiters and also leave out personal info such as your date of birth and other personal characteristics. These are not required since employment law in many countries makes it illegal to discriminate based on most of these personal traits. Also never EVER include your photo, unless of course you’re applying to be a model!
The importance of presentation in your LLM CV
The format of your CV should reflect your intended audience. If you are applying to US employers, make sure your CV (called a resume in America) is presented in a US-friendly format. The same applies if you are applying to employers in the UK or in other parts of Europe or the world. Different countries have differing expectations around how long a CV should be, whether your education should come first or last, and if you should include your hobbies or interests and that sort of thing.
Maintaining a professional look and feel is key so no gimmicky fonts, creative colours or fancy scripts. Unfortunately your CV is not the right place to express your quirky or funny side.
Sticking to a black font on a white background helps make your CV easy to read. Fonts such as Arial, Calibri or Verdana are professional looking fonts you might want to try. Keeping your CV concise and cutting out unnecessary info will allow you to include a lot of ‘white space’. Not having enough white space can make your CV look cluttered and give the reader a headache.
The final check
It’s vital that you do not send out your CV when you’re in a hurry. Print it out and leave it to ‘cool’ for a few hours or a day if you can. Reviewing it on paper, with fresh eyes, will help you spot errors and inaccuracies. It will also help you determine whether the font size is too small or too large, whether you need to increase the spacing and other typesetting matters. If you can, have a friend cross-check your CV when you’re done so they can identify areas to be corrected and give you feedback on what impression it creates.Find your PERFECT LLM PROGRAM