Selling yourself… It is a very difficult skill.


There is something disgusting about looking over an old CV. If you haven’t looked at it for a while, there is a heavy sense of dread trying to click open that document that hasn’t been edited since 2005. Luckily, when I opened mine, it had been under a year since I had last edited it, but that didn’t make it that much easier.

Setting up a meeting with two of my colleagues turned out to be both a fantastic thing and an awful one. It is incredibly difficult to get your own CV perfect. There is just something about it that no matter how much you read over it, you will never see it perfectly with the eyes of someone who would want to hire you. I went into work with what I thought was a semi-decent CV (it managed to get me my placement, did it not?) and left work with a thoroughly abused and scribbled on sheet of paper. One that I am still trying so hard to decipher. Is that a ‘N’ or a ‘V’?

I am sure a great many people have experienced the horrors of a CV. I am sure there is someone somewhere sitting there basking in the fact they have never had to write one. Well, for us common folk, it is just something that you have to grin and get down to. There is a fine line between selling your skills and just being entirely full of yourself. A fine line between being smart, and being an insufferable know it all. With law, there are also further struggles. You have to have work experience, which nobody will offer you without work experience, you need to be smart, willing to volunteer, passionate about things, commercially aware, politically aware; you need to know what colour underpants Lord Bingham (rest his merry mind) was wearing when he was made Knight of the Garter in 2005. Or maybe he was wearing garters… You should know that, you switched on law students, you.

You should also have 15 different interests outside of law. I mean… How can you become the nice, rounded, perfectly aware, perfectly graded graduates you are supposed to be without being in the exec for a committee as well as playing three sports and taking up knitting too? If you aren’t doing all these things, well, you just don’t have ‘it’. If you don’t know what ‘it’ is, just leave now. We all do. IT. That thing you need but will never have.

In this horrible quest to sell myself that I am currently going on, pending many deadlines for mini-pupillages, I think it may just be easier to start standing on street corners with placards saying “will work for law favours.” It might be easier.

 

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It’s like taking an exam.


Note: I have started to feel recently like I want to write about what applying to law school was like and what the experience has been like so far. Anything I do post about the specifics of it will probably not be of use to people unless you are actually thinking about applying yourself, or are actually already in law school too. The posts also probably won’t be as (potentially) amusing as my normal posts as I find it quite difficult to write about something so serious in my life in a light-hearted way. Maybe I will see if I can change that. I don’t want to kill off my few subscribers from boredom, do I? Also, apologies in advance if this post is a bit all over the place. My brain is filled with too many potential questions and answers.

One of the main reasons I started this blog was to talk about what my experience of going through university is like and just generally about my life. I do talk about university a lot but I am not sure I talk specifically about what law is like. I never wanted to start a separate blog for just my legal life as it is such a huge part of my life in general that it doesn’t make sense to me to talk about the two as if they are entirely separate. Of course, law is not my whole life. I do make a point of making sure I have things outside of law to keep myself relatively sane. The legal path is a tough one to be on. It is one I have been on for a few years now. Quite a few people take law as an A-level with no intention of ever choosing it as a career but in year 11, when I was choosing my A-level subjects, I chose them with the intention of throwing myself right into things with as many relevant skills as possible. It is probably a little weird that I chose all of my subjects because they would be useful in some way to my eventual plan to study law at university and it is probably a good thing I am still so sure of the path I want to be on or it would make a lot of my decisions a little bit of a waste.

Anyway, I did actually have a specific reason for writing this post today without my normal attempt at a humorous spin on things. I want to write about interviews. I can just sense there was a collective shudder as people read that word. No matter what career you go into, an interview is never going to be a pleasant thing. They are extremely stressful and there is a lot resting on them. I am lucky in that the interview I have on Wednesday is not the first one I have ever been to, but it is by far the most stressful one and undoubtedly will be more serious than any other I have been to. I have had at least one interview for a part-time job before and I am generally pretty successful. I had to have an interview for a promotion at cadets before as well and with three people on the bench half way across the room from me, it felt more akin to an interrogation than an interview.

I have been preparing for this interview on and off for almost 2 weeks now. Unfortunately, I had to make the tough decision to drop out of the semi-finals of the mooting competition so I wasn’t messing a pretty big law firm around. While it is not a decision I took lightly, I do feel like I made the right call. Being on the sandwich course at university, I have a slight advantage over those just on the straight law course. There have been a few opportunities for me to have my CV looked over and just tweaked ever so slightly to give me a slightly better chance. And by ever so slightly, I do mean that. There were very few annotations on my CV. Maybe a few to remove unnecessary words but other than that, minimal contributions. We have also had two sessions just on interview technique which are undoubtedly going to prove extremely useful.

Two of my close friends in my seminar group also have interviews with the same law firm, one even on the same day, right before me. This puts me in a strange situation. These two are not just my friends anymore; they are my direct competition. There is a chance that all three of us might be offered placements with the same firm, but there is also a chance that they might get the placement over me. That is just a part of law and most other career paths too. Some of your friends will end up being your competition. That’s life.

In interviews in the past, I have never really had to do that much preparation. In comparison to the one on Wednesday, they all feel like they have been incredibly informal. The interview with Hodge Jones and Allen on Wednesday… It feels like I am preparing for an exam… Or preparing to walk into a shark tank. I can’t decide which. I am joking about the shark tank thing. Weirdly, I have been sitting looking over potential interview questions today and recapping my knowledge of the LSA, and I feel a lot less nervous than I should. It is strange talking to Hanna, who is also preparing for it. (Hanna is the friend with her interview before mine and she also happens to be my housemate. I wonder if killing off the competition is frowned upon…Joking joking.) I have been talking to her and while we are both stressed about balancing work and interview prep and everything else, I feel like I should be more stressed when I listen to her reaction but at the same time, maybe there is nothing wrong with me being slightly more relaxed. I don’t doubt Tuesday evening and Wednesday morning are going to be hell.

With this interview for a year long placement looming, I finally feel like my foot is firmly wedged in the door of the legal profession. Let’s just hope they don’t slam it…