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You are viewing 5 posts for 27 June 2013

What to Put on the Front of a Business Card

As an attorney recruiter, I have seen a variety of business cards slide across my desk.  Some have been good, some have been bad, and some have been downright ugly.  It seems trite, but your business card truly is your own personal form of marketing.  What you put on your business card should reflect your brand as an attorney candidate. 

The front of a business card is the first thing many people see when you introduce yourself.  Therefore, the front of your business card, along with your appearance, can make or break your chances for a job or to retain a client.  As a legal recruiter, I have heard law firms exclaim in surprise that they thought the business card did not inspire confidence in the candidate before them.  It is worth the effort to examine the front of your business card and determine the most important information to include as well as the placement of that information in the most eye-catching manner.

Having an effective business card means more than just printing your name and telephone number on the front.  Not only should you have certain information on your card, you should also include this information in way that immediately draws the eye to the important points and makes a statement about your professionalism and organizational skills.

Here are a few rules to follow when designing the front of your business card.

  • Do not cram.  It is tempting to put all of your information on the front of your card, but resist the temptation.  A “busy” card turns off prospective clients and employers with sensory overload.  Include only vital contact information; save the bios and other non-essentials for a resume or your web site. Legal candidates intent on impressing law firms can do so with their professional business card backed by a resume and portfolio which offer the pertinent details.

  • Do not use funky fonts.  Cute fonts are appropriate for bake sale posters, not a business card.  Use clear, legible fonts and add an interesting logo for art value.  Be sure the font is large enough to be read easily.

  • Leave some white space.  Many people jot notes on business cards, so leave a little white space to accommodate this habit.

  • Consider a “call to action.”  If you include any statement on your business card other than your contact information, make it short and sweet and make it a call to action.  A call to action suggests and action someone can take following their perusal of your information.  Think about how to work your call to action in a very short statement and include it at the bottom of the card.

  • Avoid too many colors.  While professionally-printed cards give you the option to include colors, avoid using more than two or three.  A little color adds interest; too much dazzles the eyes and causes confusion.  Keep all your printed information a single color in groups; for example, all your contact information should be one color while your call to action could be a second color and your logo a third.

When it comes to obtaining a lawyer job in California, your business card could be the first step in or out of the door. Rather than leaving it to chance, attorney candidates should give it the careful review it deserves.



Resume Prepping

As attorney recruiters, we see hundreds of resumes slide across our desks. Unfortunately, although this is an incredibly important part of your overall image, many people are unaware of how to craft a resume that screams hire me, not file me in the waste basket. 

Your resume is the most important thing you send out when you are looking for a job.  Preparing a resume should not be something you do the night before a job interview; in fact, your resume is an asset just as money in a bank account is an asset.  It is also organic, changing, and growing as you gain experience.  Updating your resume should be an ongoing activity, and there are specific rules you should follow as you work on perfecting this important document.

When seeking law jobs in CA, it's important for attorney candidates to understand the necessary elements to preparing a successful attorney resume.  Our attorney recruitment firm offers editing services for attorney candidates as a standard service, but candidates can benefit from these necessary components.

  • Your resume must be perfect.  No ifs, ands or buts—your resume is not allowed to have errors.  This is the cardinal rule of resume writing.  You are not allowed to have spelling errors, grammatical problems, or anything else that could be construed as a mistake.  This may seem harsh, but jobs have been lost over a single spelling error in a resume.  Remember, in many cases people will be looking at your resume long before they meet you, so this is your only chance to make a good first impression.  If you're seeking placement at a top tier law firm, your resume must be impeccable.

  • Edit, edit, edit.  The way to avoid costly errors in your resume is to edit more than once and through different channels.  Start by writing out your resume “warts and all” and then begin trimming, tweaking and fixing it until you believe it is perfect.  It would not be at all remiss to edit your resume ten different times before finally settling on the perfect draft, and you may have to edit even more often. 

  • Get help.  The more eyes that see your resume, the better.  After you have edited, ask for help from others.  Start with a friend or relative.  Ask him or her to read it carefully with pen in hand and circle any areas that are unclear or seem to contain errors.  Re-read your resume with the edits; you will be surprised at how a fresh set of eyes finds mistakes you missed or points out things that are unclear.  Edit with these changes in mind, then have another person read it, then another until you are satisfied that the changes you have made are the right ones.

  • Use professionals.  Paying for help in writing your resume is not a sign of weakness but of wisdom.  Professionals can help you determine the best way to phrase information, what to include and exclude and can give your final resume draft the editing it needs to ensure perfection. If you pay professionals, be sure they have experience in the legal field.  Our legal recruitment firm is happy to help candidates edit their resumes to land the perfect job.  If you land the perfect job as a result of your resume, it is well worth seeking professional help.

If a candidate is self-submitting, he or she should be very aware of how impersonal these systems are.  Although efficient, they do not “feel” the person with a cover letter or resume that has had professional guidance, and are less likely to make it to the next level.  They are very key word driven, and every effort must be taken to have your submissions materials be impeccable.  This is where a skilled attorney recruiter can offer help to a candidate that is invaluable.



How to Follow Up After an Interview

You may have heard the saying “A picture is worth a thousand words.”  This also applies to a well-written follow-up to an interview. Our attorney recruiters often advise attorney candidates that while once considered unique, a follow up is now just good manners.  These days, it is expected that attorney candidates can and will follow up with interviewers to show a deeper understanding of items mentioned and an appreciation for meeting the busy members of the firm.

Even experts sometimes neglect the crucial time just after an interview, but this is a time when, psychologically, many things may hang in the balance of choosing a candidate for hire.  The more you can do to make yourself stand out to the partners or hiring committee, the better your chances of securing the job. Our legal recruitment firm has compiled some great tips to follow up   well after a good interview.

  • Send requested information immediately.  It is not unusual for firms to request information you do not have available at an interview.  It is better if you prepare in advance:  bring extra copies of your resume, bring your law school portfolio, or bring anything else you might need.  However, you cannot plan for every contingency.  If a partner requests a copy of a brief you wrote, for example, you may have to send it after the interview.  Be sure you do so immediately—as soon as you walk in the door from the interview, in fact.  Email makes this easy to do.  As legal recruiters, we recommend making this a priority when you get home from an interview.  There is a current trend of law school career centers advising candidates not to send emails, as they are saying there is a chance to make errors and ruin your chances for receiving an offer.  I completely disagree with this, as it continues to be seen as good manners.  There is no excuse for an error if you have someone (that you trust and respect) proof-read it.  We all make errors at times – but that is not a good reason to avoid action.

  • Send a short follow-up thank-you note.  Good manners may seem to have become a lost art, but the impact of a short “thank you” often goes underestimated.  Sending a short letter by “snail mail” will reach the hiring partners around the time they are considering who to hire.  The letter should not overdo your qualifications, but should definitely remind the partners that you hope to be considered for the position and feel you would be a good fit for the firm.

  • What do I do if I hear nothing?  This is a perennial problem for job seekers: what seems like a long time to you may seem short to busy employers who have not even met to discuss who to hire while you sit at home on pins and needles.  The rule of thumb is:  if the partners tell you to expect an answer in ten days, it is okay to contact the firm after two weeks if you have not heard.  On the other hand, if the partners do not give you a firm date, wait two weeks, make a short contact and then wait another two weeks to follow up.  Unfortunately, some firms are guilty of failing to tell candidates who were not chosen for the job that they were not hired, leading them to wait in vain.  You are entitled to know whether you got the job, but do not “bug” the partners with daily calls or emails. You might want to instead rely upon your attorney recruiter to make inquiries into whether or not you got the job.

Choosing Between Jobs

One problem that everyone wants to have is deciding between two or more job offers.  However, this can actually be a very emotionally challenging problem.  Agonizing over two equally good jobs is difficult; it helps to “make a list” of the pros and cons of each job, but what factors should be important in choosing the right position?

As an experienced attorney recruiter, I often see how this choice plays out for attorney candidates.  When candidates are torn between positions, there are often some factors which may provide the answer.  Not all law jobs in California are created equally, so attorney candidates can use the following information to decide between the right position and a position that may just be ok.

  • Location, location, location.  Remember that the location of your job offer is just as important, if not more so, than the salary.  What looks like a large salary in Washington, D.C., or New York City will not go as far as the small salary you are offered in Topeka, Kansas.  However, if you want to work in a Wall Street firm or for an international law firm in the nation’s capital, a job in Topeka will not meet your goals.  You must decide where you want to work and narrow your choices based on your preferences.
  • Salary.  Salary is actually composed of far more than money.  In order to get a true picture of the compensation you are being offered, you must include factors such as benefits and the number of hours you are expected to work.  If a firm offers a high salary but expects 120 hours of work per week, you should take a look at the quality of life you desire.  If you have a new baby at home you'd like to see, you may be better off accepting a job with a lower salary and more time off.  Similarly, jobs with no health insurance or retirement are likely to yield a much lower standard of living, even with higher salaries, than jobs that offer these benefits. As a skilled legal recruiter, I often advise candidates to consider this point carefully.
  • Climate.  You must determine your own temperament when it comes to corporate climate.  For example, you may wish to work in a large, high-energy firm where deadlines are always looming.  On the other hand, you may wish to work in a small, laid-back firm where people take their time.  Normally, larger firms are more eager to higher new talent but there is also great competition for promotion.  A smaller firm may offer better opportunity; however, some small firms are so stagnant that upward mobility is impossible.  Consider your goals carefully before you decide on the firm in which you are interested.
  • Purpose.  You might want to consider a position in a general law firm to gain valuable experience in many areas, but some attorneys want a job in a specific field.  You may have to make a decision between your “dream job” and a more pedestrian position using the other criteria for job evaluation.


5 Things To Do While Waiting For An Interview

When you're looking for lawyer jobs in California, it can sometimes seem like an eternity before you're called in for an interview.  Waiting to be called for an interview can be emotionally difficult.  It can mean hours of sitting by the phone or the computer, waiting for a call or an email. 

As skilled attorney recruiters, we see this frustration a lot.  Instead of suffering and putting yourself through stress, why not use this time to your advantage? Here are some tips to help you use the time between sending in your resume and your actual interview wisely.

  • Research the firms to which you have applied.  It is always wise to walk into an interview with some knowledge of the firm’s structure, purpose, partners and corporate climate.  With a little research on the Internet, you can find out a great deal of information about any law firm's corporate climate, including partner bios, large settlements or cases handled, how many attorneys are working in the firm and which lawyers work with which cases. As an attorney recruitment firm, we strongly advise doing your homework!
  • Make notes and study them.  If you have narrowed your choices down to a few law firms to which you have applied, it should be easy to construct a “cheat sheet” on each firm.  You can then study these sheets prior to your interview; this will help you feel more confident before you sit in with the partners.
  • If possible, talk to those who have worked in the firm before.  If you have any connections to any former or present employees of the firm, now would be a good time to talk to them about their experience with the partners, associates and case load. Try reaching out to former employees listed on LinkedIn. Many people are happy to give attorney candidates a realistic look at life in the firm. However, candidates should keep in mind that this person does not represent the firm and may offer a very subjective point of view about life at the firm. 
  • Brush up on recent cases in your area of expertise.  Just because you are out of law school does not mean you cannot continue to learn about new cases and precedents in your field.  It is also wise to brush up on current events that may impact your hoped-for job; for example, an attorney applying for a position in a real estate firm could definitely use some information on current housing market trends.
  • Make a list of questions and conduct mock interviews.  Partner with someone else who is job-seeking and hold mock interviews in which you both generate questions that you could be asked in the “real” interview.  You will be surprised how many questions you both can come up with in a short time and how much you learn from the mock interview experience.  If possible, video your mock interview; this may be painful but it will definitely give you a good look at how you present yourself and help you work on areas of weakness.  Since law firms often employ a three step process to interviewing, this can help to prepare a candidate for success.