A potential employer's first impression of you hinges on one very important document, your curriculum vitae (CV). Having a great CV is of utmost importance as it boosts your chance of getting a face-to-face interview, bringing you one step closer to your goal. Before preparing a CV, look for a law firm that you are interested in. Some law firms have their own internship programmes which have specific requirements and are only open for application during specific periods. Therefore, it is important to start your internship search 1-2 months before the date of commencement.
In order to stand a better chance to get accepted, Mr Tan Chong Lii, a litigator and the founder of Messrs Tan Chong Lii & Co, shared four things to keep in mind when preparing a CV:
1. Customise your CV for every application
It is important to have a unique and customised cover letter on your CV as it shows your enthusiasm regarding that position and demonstrates your desire to work in the law firm. Using generic materials such as the same cover letter and CV for all applications may reflect negatively on you since it might indicate that you are not well-prepared. The cover letter should provide information such as why you are applying for an internship and why you choose to apply to that particular law firm. Most importantly, list down the recipient’s name and address as this will ensure that your CV matches the law firm that you are applying.
2. Ensure that your resume is well-organized and polished.
Your CV should be clear and organised, inclusive of all necessary information such as background information, employment history, academic result, key skills, co-curricular activities, achievements, and volunteer work. It is also important to take note of what your potential employer requires. Some employers request specific bits of information such as a picture or your Linkedin Profile. Be thorough and ensure that you supply them with all the particulars requested.
3.Keep it short and precise.
Employers typically do not spend much time reading your CV. Thus, be short and concise - your CV should be no longer than 3 pages. If you have a lot of experiences, try to only include those which are impactful and worth mentioning. More importantly, keep it simple and avoid using flowery words. Bullet points are helpful to emphasise the most important information and will help bring that information to the interviewer’s attention when they skim through your CV.
4. Include a reference letter or state your referee.
A reference letter may set you apart from the rest. Some law firms require reference letters from lecturers or tutors as a confirmation of what you have written in the CV and to get to know you better. Reference letters can help convince your potential employer that you are the right person for them. Hence, you should contact your lecturer or tutor- any esteemed figure who knows you well ahead of time.
Once you have finalised your CV submit it via dropbox or email before the application deadline. If you do not receive any news from them, write a follow-up letter or email the law-firm to confirm they received your materials and to ask if they need to look at anything else. This would show your initiative and desire to join the firm.
In essence, your CV can make or break your chances at securing the position you want. Put the time in and give it your all. Taylor’s Lexicon extends our gratitude to Mr Tan Chong Lii for agreeing to this interview and we wish you all the best in your internship applications!