in Careers Advice, CV Writing, Job Applications

Why do I never get offered job interviews – Top Tips for getting a job application noticed

Every week we get lots of permanent vacancies and locum assignments from solicitors’ firms and in house legal departments. They’re often looking for a specific type of solicitor, with sufficient experience to do a specific job.

Lets take a recent example. A firm in the South East of England are looking as follows:

Permanent, Full Time, Residential Conveyancing Solicitor. At least 2 years PQE required, willingness to manage a branch office, IT literate – the firm use Osprey CMS (case management system). Salary levels likely to be around £35-45k. Start date – when you are able. Location – Bromley.

To be a top candidate for this job you need to fit the following criteria:

  • Be a solicitor with at least 2 years PQE.
  • Live in the UK and have experience as a solicitor in England & Wales.
  • Have a current practising certificate.
  • Have no conditions on the practising certificate.
  • Be willing to manage a branch office.
  • Have CMS experience – even if not with Osprey.
  • Fit within the salary range.
  • Be able to commute to Bromley.

Bonus information is:

Notice period
Current salary levels.
Reason looking for a move.
Home address – if its too far away then a full explanation as to how you are going to do the job.
Full details of employment from the age of 18/21.
Full details of your education and qualifications from GCSE/O Level onwards.
Date of birth, marital status, nationality (all entirely optional of course).
Full contact info – including an email address that works.
Full breakdown of IT experience to date and any languages spoken.
Details of 2 references – both legal professionals ideally.

Using the example above, here are our top tips for getting noticed and interviewed.

  1. Make sure you have included all the information above in your CV.
    For example it is no use applying for this job if you live in Birmingham and not explaining how you intend to work there.
  2. Tailor your CV to the application. Even if this is just adding a summary at the top to say who you are and how you fit the spec. Eg; “6 year PQE Residential Conveyancing Solicitor, based in Leeds but relocating shortly to Bromley. Looking for a full time, permanent role. Current salary is £38k, notice period is 3 months. Experienced in a range of CMS.”
  3. Explain any issues on the CV. If you try to hide these, it invariably gets spotted. So for example if you have worked as a locum in a couple of roles you need to state this so employers do not think you have moved around a lot.
  4. Indicate your availability for interview and also willingness to discuss your application on the phone initially.
  5. Do not apply for jobs if the salary range is below your expectations.
  6. Make sure you have a full list of your education, but be brief where needed. There is no need to list your 23 GCSEs…
  7. Chase up your application – don’t depend on the recruitment agency or the employer to necessarily get back. Some employers/agents seem to collect CVs and only do something about them when pushed.
  8. Include full details of references that you have permission to get a reference from, but do not include your current employers until a job offer has been made.
  9. If your CV is not at least 2-3 pages, you are not doing yourself justice. Experienced solicitors ‘long in the tooth’ are particularly notorious for this – firms simply cannot recruit based on a 100 word CV which simply states you are a “highly experienced commercial property lawyer with many years work experience in a range of firms”.
  10. Make sure the CV is up to date. We get so many CVs that are out of date and missing a recent job or assignment.


Jonathan Fagan

Jonathan Fagan LLM FIRP is Managing Director of Ten-Percent Legal Recruitment. He has been recruiting solicitors and legal support staff for law firms and in house legal departments for over 20 years and handles roles from junior fee earners through to partners and law firm sales/purchases. A non-practising solicitor on the Roll since 2000, he is also the author of a number of legal career books, which are available at You can contact Jonathan at