What can you decide to do in your spare time in order to develop new skills and strengthen your CV?
What importance is placed on my extracurricular activities?
“Extracurricular activities are crucial in shaping a candidate. Not only do they allow you to demonstrate your interests to us, but they also help us to identify the skill set that we are looking for in you.
Recruiters are looking for a set of competencies which individuals develop in many more ways than studying. Academics are critically important, however, skills such as teamwork/interpersonal skills as well as communication and motivation are often demonstrated through activities sitting outside of academic study.
It is important that you do not simply join societies and clubs that you feel a recruiter wants to see – if you enjoy an activity then it will become a long-term interest rather than a fleeting hobby you are undertaking to ‘make your CV look good’. Think carefully about where your interests lie and the opportunities available to you in these areas. You will not have time to take on endless amount of extra-curricular activities and so really do work out how you want to develop as an individual.”
Are a broad range of activities relevant?
Extra-curricular activities are important because they help you build up your transferable skill set and show us that you are a well-rounded candidate. For example, as an active member of a society, sports team, or organisation you will likely have to learn how to juggle multiple responsibilities and prioritise tasks in order to remain involved while keeping up-to-date on your coursework and attending lectures.
These are skills that we look for in our future trainees and expect all applicants to show on their application forms. Furthermore, if you decide to take on a leadership role, then you’ll likely have the opportunity to hone your ability to work under pressure and also to work on a team, which are two more important skills that our trainees must possess. But, before you go out and sign up to every extra-curricular activity on campus, think about what really interests you.
We look for candidates that have a genuine interest in the things that they do and who can provide reasoning as to why they’re involved. It is also important not to overcommit to extra-curricular activities at the expense of your academic performance. Other than that, get out there and get involved!
Norton Rose Fulbright
How should I best demonstrate my transferable skills and articulate these within my application?
First things first, you need to make sure you understand which of your skills are truly transferable, as not everyone will be. Don’t be tempted to use lots of words telling us about something of which you might be very proud, but that isn’t really relevant.
The application form needs to be succinct and to the point and, if you are successful, there will be plenty of opportunity to tell us lots of other brilliant things about you at a later date!
Each question on the application form will have been designed to tell us something important about you and your potential to excel in the role of a trainee, and the strongest answers will be backed up with relevant examples. The application form gives you the luxury of time to think of your strongest example of certain skills, so take advantage of it and don’t rush in with the first thing that springs to mind. Use the questions to demonstrate that you not only understand your own skill set, but also what we’re really looking for from our strongest trainee solicitors. It’s a hard balance, but striking it will allow you to really stand out at the initial stage.
We love reading about applicants’ personal achievements, interests and activities outside of studies. From a recruiter’s perspective it is just as important, if not more important than academic and working experiences as it really gives insight into your personality, motivators and also how you will be able to adapt to the workplace. So it is vital that you invest the time to firstly identify and understand your strengths and skills so you are able to share your experiences in the best possible way in your application form.
If stuck, it can be insightful to ask others for feedback on your strengths and also skills where you need to build on. Once you have made a record of all your activities and skills, it is about connecting this to the skills needed in the job you are applying for.
Start by identifying the core transferable skills sought by your chosen employer in role, i.e. problem solving, organizational skills, adaptability. Then match your experiences to each of these skills being very specific and not generic with your description, don’t simply list them, explain the how, what and why you believe you developed that particular skill to demonstrate your depth of thinking.