Knowing what job history to include on your in-house CV can be a tricky task, but knowing this can help you secure your dream in-house job quicker than you think.
"All hiring managers and recruiters have their own preferences when it comes to CV content and layout. Some take stock of a candidate’s interests; others would prefer that the CVs are kept strictly professional (academic record and legal experience only). There is no ‘one-size-fits-all’ approach to an in-house legal CV; except to say that it should always be tailored to the role that you’re applying for, and concise enough for a recruiter/hiring manager to scan and quickly see your most relevant legal and non-legal experience.
Answering whether or not you should include non-legal experience is difficult without having some context as to the role you’re applying for (level, responsibilities, industry, etc.). At paralegal level, we often see candidates include some prior non-legal experience, as there’s not a great deal else to differentiate CVs so early in a candidate’s career. As your career progresses to the qualified level, however, we naturally see non-legal experience being removed, or being included under ‘interests’ (e.g. film/media production, sports coaching, etc.). That said, there are other levels of non-legal experiences; such as being involved in initiatives, working group outside and inside work, such as diversity forums, employee engagements representations, or business transformational projects.
The main rule to stick to here is keeping your CV recent and relevant. If your non-legal experience is your part-time role during high school/university (from many years ago), then it’s likely time to remove it. If, however, your non-legal experience is a role that you held during your professional working career, and it shows potential to add value/experience over and above the usual legal work; such as commercial work or project work, or it allowed you to gain experience within a certain (relevant) industry or to manage a team, then it’ll be worth your while including it (albeit condensing it to a sentence or two).
I can highlight two examples of when clients have requested to see non-legal experience. In the first instance, one client was interested in knowing whether candidates had experience (legal or non-legal) working in a start-up environment (e.g. developing processes, thriving in a slightly more chaotic and unstructured environment, etc.). Another client (multinational FMCG company) recently wanted to meet with candidates who had managerial experience (legal and/or non-legal) in a similar sized/structured FMCG company. She felt candidates would hit the ground running faster if they understood the structure, management requirements and senior stakeholder needs of a complex FMCG organisation.!