Why Ditching Your CV Will Help Your Career Move Efforts


When I speak with lawyers who are starting to explore a career move (whether a small pivot or wholesale career change), they have a tendency to rely too heavily on their CV.

In this post, I will explain why using your CV when you’re investigating a career move is likely to hold you back.

Instead, I advocate you adopt a “CV-lite” approach.

The Importance of Field Research

One of the critical activities for any successful career move is doing research out “in the field” – by making connections and having conversations with others.

When trying to set up these conversations most people lead with their CV, which is much less effective.

Instead, utilising a CV-lite approach is much more effective.

In short, it reduces the friction in your networking, relationship building and information gathering.

The CV-Led Approach

The usual approach when lawyers are considering a career move is to get their CV into shape and think who they can send it to.

They will then often send it out to their network, to recruitment consultants and post it to online job boards.

It’s easy to blindly slip into this default approach because we have been led to believe the CV is all important.

When it comes to the visible face of the traditional recruitment landscape (job ads, recruitment consultants, job websites) we are usually asked for a CV or something similar.

Of course, if you are clear on the job you want and you see adverts for those jobs then you will need to use your CV to apply if that is what is being requested.

However, if you aren’t clear on your next career move you want then a CV led approach will actually cause friction and hamper your career transition progress.

Think about it.

When you send your CV to someone, you are asking a lot of them.

As the CV is so synonymous with seeking a new job, the clear implication in sending it to someone is “I’m looking for a job, can you help me in some way”.

That’s a big ask in the first place.

Additionally, opening your communication with someone by sending an email with a two or three-page document attached is asking a lot of them. It requires their time and effort to review all it and then determine if they can help you.

This results in friction in setting up the conversations that are so important in your exploration of a possible career move.

It closes doors, shuts down conversations and limits the possibility of further conversations.

It makes people defensive and less open to help you. This is the opposite of what you should be striving for.

You need people to be open to you and to have as many conversations as you can.

Leading with your CV is like going networking for business and trying to sell your services as soon as you meet people.

People will put the barriers up and close down.

This sort of friction will easily lead you to inertia.

This is why in so many of my conversations with lawyers about a possible career move I hear them say they feel “stuck”.

Why a CV-Lite Approach is Better

With a CV-lite approach you will still draft an up to date CV but you will tightly control who you send it to.

You will only send it to someone where it is absolutely necessary to do so, and there is no alternative to it.

For example, where you have identified a specific job to apply to and the application instructions require you to submit a CV.

Where you have yet to identify which specific jobs you want to apply to, you will be in the phase of exploring your options.

For this, you want to keep it CV free.

At this stage, you want to be growing your network, having conversations, gathering information and building relationships to leverage when you get to the job search stage.

The CV-lite approach requires concise communications as we seek to set up conversations to help us with our research and exploration of career move options.

Again, leaving the CV out of communications is going to reduce the friction and so greatly help with this.

One major reason this approach is better is it makes it easier for you to make connections and set up conversations.

It also makes it easier for those people you are seeking to connect with and have conversations with.

You reduce the friction when you drop the reliance on the CV and adopt a research, not job search mindset.

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Matt Oliver

Matt is the founder of Law Career Plus and a former in-house lawyer (Sky Sports, London & Foxtel, Sydney). With over 12 years of experience as a career consultant & executive coach, he supports lawyers with their career development & career transitions. He does this through this website, a regular email newsletter and his one to one lawyer career coaching.

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