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You are viewing 16 posts with the tag Interview

Get My Attention – Send a Respectable Cover Letter!

Recently I read an article by a recruiter who very straightforwardly acknowledged that she often receives unimpressive application materials from job-seekers.  This is often a non-starter and the result is…Delete.  Why?  I would not hire someone who either isn’t willing, able or savvy enough to realize how important this first stage of the screening process is.

When I say “unimpressive”, I’m referring to more than just the resume and academics – I am including and focusing on the cover letter here because the cover letter, which is typically the first impression a reviewer gets, is either poorly written or there is none. 

WHAT DO YOU HOPE TO ACCOMPLISH? The increasing use of email vs. snail mail has resulted in fewer cover letters than ever.  Frequently I receive email submissions with no cover letter – no introduction at all.  Attached is a resume with no explanation why the applicant is considering a job change or what position they seek.  Those that really make me shake my head address me as the employer, rather than a recruiter.  They clearly don’t know where they are even sending their resume!  Not only does it require extra effort on my part to obtain this necessary information, but their apparent lack of basic understanding about this process often leaves me feeling that the lack of attention to detail reflects a lack of professionalism…and that is a real turn-off.  Alternatively, perhaps the candidate has so much self-confidence that he believes that resume speaks for itself, but this is a huge assumption to make.

MATCH YOUR SKILLS TO THE JOB:  Stunningly, I get numerous resumes from applicants who aren’t even attorneys.  Anyone with basic internet skills and has visited our web site knows that we only work with attorneys.  This seems either lazy or desperate to me – and the resume is deleted.  What a waste of precious time on both our parts!  Wouldn’t they research an employer before an interview? Respect your own time, as well as mine.

RECRUITERS ARE THE “GATEKEEPERS”.  Candidates must pass our scrutiny in order to get in front of our employer clients.  If your cover letter and accompanying materials don’t show thought, clarity, and relevant details at a glance, they just won’t make the cut.  We want to help you get a job – that’s why we are in this business.  Take the time to do a thorough and professional job if you truly expect to be taken seriously.


Make Yourself Memorable!

Summertime is almost here and numerous law students will begin jobs, many in law firms.  These are probably the lucky ones, because they will have an edge over colleagues who were unable to secure a position.    Our previous blogs discussed various strategies for these unemployed students to use to find jobs in order to avoid the summertime blues.  But how about a few pointers for those who will be working in a law firm?  Of course, you are required to do excellent work. What else do we suggest?  Make yourself memorable!

How can you make yourself memorable?

Millennials are often viewed as self-absorbed with unreasonable expectations and a sense of entitlement.  Sorry folks, it doesn’t sound pretty, and that’s the short version!  But we know they also have technological skills that previous generations don’t.  Everyone is replaceable, but position yourself such that the firm would really miss your contributions if you weren’t around.  You may wish to consider:

   - Tech Advantage: Use your special technological abilities not only to produce high quality work in a timely manner, but also to consider developing or contributing to your firm’s social networking sites.  Go beyond the standard Blog and suggest topics that are cutting edge or may be unique for a multi-generational audience - but always ensure that you have your employer’s approval prior to publication.

   - Dress Like A Professional:  while it may be acceptable to dress in jeans and Birkenstocks, it’s just not professional.  That is not the image that your firm wants intra-firm or with clients.  It’s sort of like when you had your interview and sat at lunch with several attorneys…do you think they took you out merely to feed you and ask questions? Of course not, they also observed your manner and presence, thinking about how you might appear when taking a client to lunch.  While “dress like a professional” does not necessarily mean wearing a suit or tie, dress the part.  Ask yourself this “if the partner spontaneously asked me to go to court with him, how would I want to look to represent the firm and myself to the judge?”  When in doubt, consider the three “C’s”: current, classic, conservative.  [No, these are not contradictory, you can do it!]

   - Social Abilities; Demonstrate that you can hold your own in a conversation with colleagues and clients. Maintain self-control at firm functions where alcohol is served, just as you (hopefully) would at a business lunch. Future employers are often part of a generation that wants to believe that you know how to communicate beyond the keyboard.

   - Show Respect for Generational Differences:  You’ll be working with people from several different generations.  It’s very important to recognize that you must show respect for them and their ways of doing things, even though your own opinions may differ.

   - Learn About the Firm Culture; understanding the firm’s environment will be an advantage towards determining how to best become memorable. 

Congratulations on obtaining a summer associate position….now go make yourself memorable!


Women vs. Men, Is There a Confidence Gap?

Today I read an article “The Confidence Gap”, espousing the premise that more women lack confidence than men.  If true, why is this and can this be overcome?  Is the stereotype true that, traditionally, women feel less confident in business situations than men?  Is it still a “man’s world”, whether women do or don’t exude confidence?

As a teen of the 60’s, I’ve seen – and experienced - great changes and significant advances for women in the workplace.  Hey – it used to be (in the olden days) that a stay-at-home mom had no legal way of even funding her own Roth IRA! 

I did not develop my business experience in the larger corporate world, so I can only speak about this from the perspective of friends who have.  These women felt strong and competent during those years, but had to learn to maneuver in a man’s world.  Did they have to adapt to how men “operated” in order to get ahead?  I am told that they often did.  However, many women today believe that they are better off, long term, if they appreciate the differences and utilize them to their advantage. 

Why would women WANT to be like men?  If equal compensation is the issue, then we have laws to deal with these issues.   Respect?  Our behavior, actions and reputation should engender respect, as this is not a “given”.  Women tend to have a sensitivity that men do not and, if not to the level of emotionality, it can be a true benefit in dealing with others in the workplace. 

Do women have to be tough to be effective?   If tough implies “strong”, “resilient”, and “stable”, I think the answer is probably yes.  However, if “tough” is interpreted as “rough”, “harsh” or “hard-hitting”, then I doubt such women will be viewed positively.  Even those of us outside the large corporate world know that there is much to be gained from strength through diplomacy, respect through integrity, resilience through a positive attitude, focus and forthrightness.

Should a woman behave differently during a job interview?  Does the generational classification of the interviewer affect the outcome when it comes to stereotypes?  I believe that we always have to have a healthy respect for, even if we don't agree withor feel in control of, the human element. 

It is important to note that I believe young women today often view this issue as a nonstarter, expecting to be treated with a certain degree of respect out of the gate.  I applaud this frame of mind so long as they behave in a way that deserves such respect.

Many folks might disagree with me, but I believe a woman has to find her confidence not only through results, but also by operating from within – and at times pushing the boundaries of - her comfort zone.  The result can engender such a level of self-respect that it actually gives her the courage to ‘lean in” and accomplish whatever she wants to.


What An Employer Looks For in an Applicant: The Basics

Part 3;   How to Start Networking and Get a Job

  • Submissions of application materials: Make it personal. Submissions should always be addressed to an individual – not “To Whom It May Concern”.  Methods of delivery; adhere to any requirements. Don’t use first names unless you know the recipient.  Follow up in 10 days if you have not heard from the firm.  Stay professional, and remember that they have many other responsibilities on their plates besides considering your application.  Don’t be a pest.

  • Impeccably-drafted resume; avoid flourishes and designs, excessive bolding or underlining, and pay attention to the nature of personal interests listed.  It’s preferable to keep interests off unless you have particular accomplishments that set you apart.  Examples might be language fluency, international travel or managerial positions.

  • Writing sample: If you include a writing sample, make sure that it contains absolutely no inaccuracies or misspellings.

  • Transcript: include with initial submission only if required by the firm, unless you have stellar grades.

  • Cover letters:  Covers must be concise and address why you are interested in THAT firm, and how your interest and skills can BENEFIT that firm.  They will not consider you just because you need a job.  Take the time to get to know people and their needs, because the only reason they would hire you is if you can fill those needs anyway.  Thank them for their consideration – not their time.  Tell them, primarily, some things of interest that are NOT on your resume – or you can also emphasize items of significance.  Limit the use of the word “I” – employers want to know what you can do for them NOW!

  • Activities: Keep them relevant, or that show leadership and/or managerial skills.

  • Show confidence, but not arrogance. You can accomplish this by being familiar with the firm, and comfortable with who you are. Be prepared to express your goal(s) articulately and concisely.

  • You must have a reasonable understanding of what the attorney and firm does - do your homework!

  THE BIGGEST MISTAKES STUDENTS MAKE; THE SHORT LIST

  • There is no second chance to make a first impression!  Arrive prepared for the interview.  Don’t be late.   Dress appropriately; wear a suit unless otherwise instructed (professional dress shows a potential employer how you would present to a client).

  • Prepare for questions about your skills and goals and offer examples.  Don’t embellish or get defensive, as no one expects a law student or entry level attorney to have a lot of experience.

  • Tell me what you can do for me right now!  Show initiative, be prepared to discuss your strengths, but do so in the context of examples.

  • It’s not all about YOU, or what YOU want.  Focus primarily on their needs and goals, so that you can make a more informed decision about whether that firm is a fit for you. For example, ask what the ideal candidate looks like to them.

  • Don’t talk too much! Learn to listen – listen to learn!

  • GRADES: Don’t make the mistake if thinking that achieving a J.D. is enough to get a good job.  Grades will almost always matter for approximately 7-10+ years, as well as your accomplishments.

  • Be aware of verbal and non-verbal behavior – these are both important parts of your personal presence.

  • Don’t underestimating the importance of generational differences; realize that the person interviewing you is likely from a different generation and has worked many years to achieve what he/she has, including long hours and many sacrifices.  Millennials are considered to want to achieve things quickly and want work/life balance from the start.  

REMEMBER - You are smart and have the technological savvy – but THEY have the jobs.  Educate yourself about these differences, and show respect for them.

THE FOLLOWING ARE SOME QUESTIONS FOLLOWING THE PRESENTATION

1. What are small and medium sized law firms looking for in applicants?  Applicants who have the experience in the job description, and with a personality that will mesh in a smaller firm environment.

2. What is the hiring process like for small and mid-size law firms when they hire associates or law students?  Typically 1-3 interviews, where you’ll meet main partners and associates.  If the firm extends an offer, you will typically have 48 hours to 1 week to accept.

3. How can a student stand out from the rest? Personal presence and message, consistency of brand, impressively-drafted resume, LinkedIn profile, quality of developed relationships (references).

4.  If grades are not your strongest asset, what can you do to make yourself competitive? See above, plus a professional Blog can prove valuable in many ways.

5. While in law school, what are some things I can do now that will help me later in my career? Develop an online presence, and start laying groundwork with individuals and at events.  See networking tips, above.

6. What areas of law are growing and employing more lawyers? Labor and employment, IP Patent litigation (particularly with an EE or CS degree), some corporate and real estate positions are opening up. What areas of the law are tightening and hiring less? Litigation, Bankruptcy.

6. How did networking influence the job you have (or any jobs that you've had)?  I was introduced to attorney recruiting by my brother – who had used a recruiter years before.  During law school, we were not educated about the services of recruiters, so I was unfamiliar with the benefits of working with one. We had a good synergy and I joined her business.  In 2005, I incorporated Rifkin Consulting.

Another example is that a professional colleague introduced to a journalist at a renowned legal publication.  We get together regularly, have developed a really positive personal and professional relationship, and I’ve had significant opportunities to get meaningful PR exposure as a result. 

7. After meeting someone at a networking event, what is the best way to cultivate that relationship?  Pay attention to that person’s business card, and comment on it when possible.  Too often people just discard business cards, but in Asian culture this is considered disrespectful.   Send a nice note afterwards to people with whom you wish to remain in contact – calendar follow ups.  Show value. 

8. What is the #1 thing you should and should not do at a networking event?  Ask for a job.

9. Any general tips for anyone that has not been to a networking event?

  • Choose events with intention and purpose.  Your time is valuable.
  • See if you can obtain the attendance list, and research people on the list. You can make efforts to introduce yourself to targeted attendees at the event.
  • Be genuine, smile, use direct eye contact, and develop a good handshake.  Learn how to walk up to strangers and introduce yourself.  Practice how to creatively ask about them about themselves.  An example might be to avoid saying “what do you do”, but consider something a bit more personal such as “What is the nature of your business (practice”, or “What do you enjoy most about your specialty”.
  • Have a business card made that is professional and represents your brand.  This is a wonderful tool to provide to someone who asks for your contact information.  It need not include your address. Share it with intention.
  • When it’s time to move on and talk to someone else, you need a graceful way to accomplish this.  For example, “It’s really been a pleasure speaking with you.” 
  • Follow up with a short note after the event.

I hope this information has been helpful.  Please check back for additions and modifications, and visit our Professional Resources page at www.rifkinconsulting.com .


How to Start Networking and Get a Job

PART 2; HOW TO GET STARTED NETWORKING 
 
MAKE CONNECTIONS, DEVELOP THE RELATIONSHIPS

  • Approach: Network with Intention; implement an intentional and strategic approach, both (a) online and (b) in person.
  • Lay the groundwork.  If you avail yourself of too many venues and events you will likely end up  feeling scattered, exhausted and ineffective.  Narrow your scope, set incremental goals, and strategize about methods of implementation to achieve them.


I. SOCIAL NETWORKING AND RELATED VENUES

LinkedIn: enjoy a 360 degree resume – for free!

  • Employers and other professionals view these; they often act as a preliminary “screen” 
  • Complete your profile; provide the information of a resume, yet with a slightly personal/individual touch
  • Ask for – and give - recommendations (better than endorsements). Get clients and advocates to tell your story!  
  • Take a seminar on how to make your profile very searchable, be specific in your summary
  • Develop a professional Blog and link to it
  • Get involved with Groups and participate in the discussions
  • Post relevant and appropriate photos (i.e., professional activities, charitable activities) 


TWITTER & FACEBOOK

  • Be cautious about postings, despite your privacy settings
  • Be clear with yourself and others (in the nature of the content) about the purpose of the postings/use of the site (keep it appropriately personal or professional – best not to combine these). 
     

II. IN PERSON NETWORKING

  • Personal networking has become paramount.  WHY?   The connections students might make early on can really help when it comes time to fill a position. It's never too late to start.
  • Take the time to get to know people and their needs, because the only reason they would hire you is if you can fill those needs anyway. 
  • Make it manageable!  Network with Intention – Narrow your Scope to Start: Find 10 people in the professional space that are doing something you want to do, meet them and ask how they got there. If you earn that group’s trust person by person, you’ll be well on your way to a reputation as someone with a clear purpose in the job market.
  • Practice asking meaningful questions – including with people you know, like family members.  You might be surprised at what you learn
  • Informational interviews: Contact someone whose specialty interests you and request a coffee, lunch or brief office informational meeting.  Be clear about your intention, for example, “Mr. Smith, as a student at Loyola Law School who is interested in learning more about the practice of employment law, would you be willing to meet me briefly for coffee to discuss the profession?  I am interested in learning more about the nuances, recent trends and your opinion of the future of this practice area.”  Attorneys like to talk about what they do and they'll probably take you up on it.
  • Research the person and be familiar with recent news in order to have a meaningful discussion.  Once you have their attention, you can show the value you would bring to them – regardless of whether or not you work for them in the future.
  • DO NOT ASK FOR A JOB!  Instead, ask what they would suggest for someone entering their field.  
     

FOLLOWING UP:  While you learn what those tips are, you can mention some of the things you’ve done, your skills, and other things that would show you’re a smart person working hard to accomplish your goal.

  • Follow up with a sincere thank you note. 
  • Calendar to follow up with that person periodically.
  • Keep them in mind!  For example, occasionally send them a relevant article or even a referral when possible.  Do not expect anything in return.
  • It’s crucial to remember that others have a circle of influence.  You never know when they might mention you to someone they know who can make a meaningful difference in your life.
  • Consider keeping a chart, such as Excel, with your networking efforts and status
     

VENUES FOR NETWORKING

  • Take advantage of any OCS programming, career fairs, mock interviews, etc. that are offered. This is another way to meet people and to sharpen skills in the process.
  • Often local bar organizations have a reduced (or free) rate for students to attend (usually) monthly events. This is a great way to meet attorneys and figure out what firms and practice areas might be busy/hiring.
  • Volunteer positions could lead to paying jobs... positions like a judicial externship are quite  valuable because the judge will often serve as a reference in helping to secure the next job.
  • Don't ignore public interest (and government, though they usually aren't hiring straight out of law school) because of fear of student loans.
  • Educate yourself on flexible (and generous) loan payback options such as the IBR (income based repayment) which pegs your monthly payment to a fixed percent of discretionary income and you can qualify for loan forgiveness (of federal loans) after 10 years of repayment (doesn't have to be in the same job). 
  • Don't forget to check the job postings in the Daily Journal, they often have positions that are not posted online
  • Mine the school's alumni network. Meeting with alumni could lead to a job, or if an alumni member hears of a job they might think of the student who reached out to them
 
To Be Continued In Part 3; What an Employer Looks For In an Applicant

 


How to Start Networking and Get a Job

Part One; Why You Must Network

Based on a presentation at Loyola Law School in Los Angeles on 2/12/14. 

INTRODUCTION

In 1988, I graduated from Villanova School of Law outside Philadelphia.  Villanova is viewed very much back east like Loyola is here in Los Angeles – a highly-regarded regional law school.  I worked for a large law firm, and subsequently for small firms.  When I relocated to California, I knew no one but a couple of family members.

Since I started attorney recruiting 14 years ago, more than half of those years were during a recession.

 What does this information have to do with you?  Well, in real estate you always hear the phrase “location, location, location”.  What I want you to remember is “connections, connections, connections”.  This realization changed my professional life – and I’m confident that it can change yours.

Connections, as well as hard work and a lot of patience, have contributed tremendously to my success in business.  On a similar note, developing relationships after I moved to California was critical, and it took years of effort to develop friendships and acquaintances like I had back East for so many years.  I mention this because developing connections is, in many ways, like making friends. But like friends, connections and relationships should be chosen carefully.  Therefore, it’s important that you network with intention.

Developing personal networking habits and skills will always be essential to your professional success, as there is no replacement for the human connection.  What about the importance and efficiency of social media connections and exposure, you ask? Our world is inextricably linked with Social Media.  Therefore, it’s hard to separate what you need to know to interview well and/or land a job, versus [personal] networking advice.

You want to know how to get a job, how to keep a job, and how to become secure to weather a recession in the future…b/c the only thing you can really be sure of is…there will be change.  Recession will happen again, and technology is rapidly evolving. 

Competition may seem greater than ever, with more candidates having access to information about available jobs.  However… the GOOD news is that, thanks to technology, you have more information and other resources at your fingertips than previous generations – so what are you going to do now that you are armed with these tools?
 

 NETWORK WITH INTENTION; 3 PARTS TO THIS PRESENTATION 

  • Why You Must Network
  • How Do You Get Started?
  • What an Employer Seeks in an Applicant; Do’s and Don’ts 
     

WHY YOU MUST NETWORK; THE IMPORTANCE OF COMMUNICATING YOUR PERSONAL BRAND
 

1. Networking is crucial for your career. Effective networking leads to relationships, and people tend to hire other people who they know and like. 


2. You are unique – but look to your right and to your left – those people are also unique.  You must distinguish yourself with a personal brand.

3. Brand vs. Reputation: Both your brand and reputation are important to your success

  • Your “brand’ is what people think of when they hear your name (or company) – it’s an intangible business asset that distinguishes you from others.  It can be hard to define, but until you do it’s hard to clearly articulate to others “who” you are. 

  • Your “reputation” is what they think about you as a person, such as having integrity and being reliable. 

  • How do you hone your message and how do you communicate it to those you meet?

  • I suggest working with a trusted friend or colleague to develop a brief introduction that is clear and compelling, and

  • Be patient, as this takes time and regular re-evaluation.  [More on developing your message in a future article].

  • You must provide value; the law firm world has changed.  Gone are the days when you worked for a firm, did good work, and made partner in 6 years…and remained there happily ever after.  More than ever, however, law firms are viewed as a business and so you need to provide VALUE if you want to be hired – and remain employed. The new “reality” is that your “value” will be closely connected with the clients/business that you bring to a firm.  This is achieved by networking, and developing relationships with people who will hire or refer you based on their perception of your brand and reputation.

  • Start planning now to be a business generator, by making connections and nurturing them. Doing so will not only help you now – but also in the future by enhancing your job security.  Once you have a client base that generates business, you gain independence and freedom – to make choices based on your personal needs and desires.

  • Utilize your Millennial Edge to your Advantage!  Law School students and young attorneys are typically referred to as “Millennials”.  The Millennial generation is known for being technologically savvy – it’s vital that you make sure you are also “people-savvy” if you want to succeed.

  • Learn the proper way to make a referral, and to accept a referral
  • Learn to listen – listen to learn
  • Practice following up with connections
  • Adopt an attitude of not expecting immediate results, or receiving anything in return
     

To be continued in Part 2:  How To Get Started


Help! I Hate My New Job!

Sometimes the dream job you thought you would love turns out to be a nightmare position from which you feel you may never escape.  This is especially distressing when you have just started a new job and decide in a very short time that you despise the people or the position or both.  How soon is too soon to start looking for another job?  Will changing a job too quickly look bad on your resume?

The Dilemma of A Bad Job

Bad jobs create their own terrible dilemma.  If you quit the job, you risk being earmarked as a quitter or a “job hopper”; however, if you do not quit, you risk not only being miserable but perhaps being fired by the boss who likes you no better than you like him or her.

Generally, your happiness and mental health are worth more than any job.  However, you also have to be able to balance your own needs against the danger of moving from job to job whimsically.

A few things to consider when choosing whether or not to leave a job you just started:

  • Do you have another job waiting?  In some cases, attorneys take jobs only to receive a much better offer.  If you have another firm that has extended you an offer, it is much easier to jump ship with fewer negative consequences than if you simply quit abruptly with no prospects.
  • Are you being discriminated against?  There are some actions that can be construed as illegal discrimination such as sexual harassment.  If you are experiencing illegal harassment or discrimination, talk to another attorney immediately who specializes in these cases.  Never attempt to handle a situation such as this on your own.
  • Is there a chance of changing your job assignments?  Perhaps what is bothering you about your job is not the people you work with but the work itself.  Talk to your supervisor to see if your talents are being utilized fully.  If not, make suggestions for changes and be prepared to do some extra work to show your bosses where your talents lie.
  • Have you changed jobs suddenly in the past?  When it comes to a rapid job change, establishing a pattern is far more damaging than one “do over.”  While there will always be employers who will eye you askance if you quit a job after only a few weeks, most understand that anyone can get into one bad situation.  However, if you change jobs routinely, you are letting everyone know that you would rather leave than work out any problems you may have with a firm, its members or your job duties.

How Unhappy Are You?

The biggest question to answer when you are considering leaving a job you just started is:  how unhappy are you?  You may honestly have given the job a fair chance, but it is also possible that you are allowing your dislike to color your viewpoint.  One way to measure how reasonable your dislike of a job really is could be to talk with someone you trust and who is willing to give you an objective opinion of your situation.

If you find that you simply cannot stand to keep a job, of course you must move on.  However, be sure that you are making the right decision and that you are willing to accept the consequences of making a sudden job change before you turn in your notice.


What to Ask Your Attorney Recruiter

Hiring an attorney recruiter is a process, in some ways, similar to a job interview.  You must be sure that the attorney recruiter is a good match for your needs, and the recruiter must be sure that you are the type of candidate he or she wants to represent.  The process of “interviewing” a legal recruiter should be taken every bit as seriously as your job interviews and may well have even more lasting ramifications. 

An attorney recruiter in CA such as Rifkin Consulting serves a very important purpose.  Finding the right attorney jobs in CA is not a simple task, and hiring an attorney recruiter is one of the best ways to weed through the hundreds of law jobs in CA and find the one that best suits your goals and talents.

Therefore, there are several things you should ask your attorney recruiter before agreeing to representation.  Here are a few questions you should ask to learn the important information you need to make the right choice in legal recruiting firms from among those available.

  • How long have you been working as an attorney recruiter?  Ask to see the credentials of the person you are hiring to represent you to law firms throughout the state.  A professional attorney recruiting firm has usually been in business for years, offering you a chance to review their success stories and see their development as a key player in the legal field.

  • How do you go about choosing the right jobs for me?  This is a crucial question and is really the key to the success or failure of an attorney recruiter in terms of finding the right positions for you.  The attorney recruiter should use a verifiable method of weeding out job possibilities so that he or she focuses only on those that will fit your demands.  You do not want a recruiter who simply passes your resume to any law firm that is hiring.

  • Do you offer support services?  An attorney recruiter should offer other services such as resume editing, interview preparation and advice on choosing the right job.  Simply brokering your resume to law firms is not enough.

  • Do you have references to whom I can speak?  The old saying “a picture is worth a thousand words” can also be applied to references.  No matter how good a firm tells you it is, hearing it from someone who has used the firm successfully means much more.  You should also search the Internet for possible bad references; while one or two do not mean much, a number of bad reviews may signal trouble.

  • How do you calculate your fees?  An attorney recruiting firm is paid by the employer when a candidate is hired and begins employment.

It is also important to consider the necessity of maintaining confidentiality and discretion in this process. You may have other questions to ask a potential attorney recruiter.  Do not be afraid to ask for clarification or information; after all, this may be one of the most important relationships of your life. 


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.

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. 


Benefits of Working With an Attorney Recruiter

Attorney Recruiting

With the economy in recession, it may be difficult to find career opportunities that match your criteria, experience, and academic achievement. The economic crisis has left few jobs on the market and even lawyers are having difficulty trying to find employment that matches their requirements. You may have considered working with an attorney recruiter, but are still uncertain whether or not you should. Here are several reasons why an attorney recruiter can assist you in building an enriching and successful career as an attorney:

Appearance and Presentation:

Often, applicants do not hear back from potential employers because their cover letters and resumes are unsuccessful and ineffective. Most attorneys are so busy applying to numerous jobs that they do not research each law firm’s background and goals. Ultimately, many attorneys make the awful mistake of sending out generic and plain cover letters and resumes. This usually leads to fruitless results.

Cover letters should be tailored to the law firm and used to create a connection with the firm's recruiting department. If you are not referencing your knowledge of the firm or engaging the reader within the first paragraph, your cover letter will likely be tossed.

Additionally, if your resume and cover letter contain typographical errors, you will most likely not hear back from them. Your first impression, even though on paper, needs to be completely flawless. Fortunately, an attorney recruiter can edit your resume and draft an impressive cover letter while also providing background on the law firm to ensure that your presentation catches the reader's attention.

Interview and Impression:

Numerous applicants find the interview process utterly challenging with multiple phone and in person interviews. The process can be stressful, nerve-wracking, and brutal. It is of the utmost importance that you appear to be the right candidate for the position, but most often interviewees become nervous and fail to create the right impression. An attorney recruiter can help you with the interview process by providing effective tips to guide you in selling your skills and experience.  

Networking:

Ever heard the expression: “it’s not what you know, it’s who you know”? Well the statement rings completely true in searching for the right career opportunities. It is absolutely crucial to establish long-lasting connections and relationships in order to generate the best career opportunities. This may be a daunting task for a new or young attorney.  At Rifkin Consulting, we offer the benefit of more than 25 years of experience with the legal industry and have many well established relations with successful law firms and exceptional attorneys.

Contact Rifkin Consulting

Whether you are a young associate or longtime partner, we can help provide you with employment opportunities for a permanent and successful career. Our attorney recruiters have your best interest in mind and will search for top tier law firms that exceed your requirements.  Contact one of our consultants today so we can assist in achieving your long-term goals as an attorney. 


10 Common Resume Mistakes You Don't Want to Make

Your resume is the first impression you’ll have on your potential new employer, which is why it’s imperative that you make no mistakes. You don’t want to miss out on a perfect opportunity because of a small error that could have been prevented. Here are some of the most common mistakes that might break the deal.

Vague Descriptions

At a glance, your resume should already say three things: what you do, what you want to do, and what you’ve done in the past to get you where you are now. No one wants to spend precious time digging through the slush for information that could easily have been conveyed more directly. Be specific in your descriptions, work history, and what you hope to accomplish.

Irrelevant Work Experience

While your work history may be a versatile compilation of jobs, you might want to reconsider including all of them in your resume. Employers are only interested in your experience so long as it is relevant to what you’ll be doing in your new position. Only include experience that you feel are related to the job you’re interviewing for.

Typos

When your resume is littered with grammatical mistakes and typographical errors, it conveys that your work is sloppy. If you don’t have time to fix up your resume, what makes the employer think that you won’t carry the same mentality into your position? Double check and triple check your resume for little mistakes.

Listing Tasks Instead of Achievements

It’s easy to list every mundane detail of your job, but that’s not what your new boss will search for. They’re looking for someone who can accomplish and meet goals. Instead of listing your tasks, write down your accomplishments and what goals you were able to meet at your position.

Too Much Information

While you want to give as much information about yourself, you should avoid going on for too long. Even though it's not set in stone for how long a resume should be, the general rule of thumb is to keep it to one page. However, if you must go on at great length about your many accomplishments, there is no real reason you can’t. As long as the information that you include is relevant, descriptive, and straight-to the point.

Too Little Information

And yet, while you’re trying to include only relevant information, you might end up leaving out the important bits altogether. Keep in mind that as long as you are descriptive and specific about your work experience, and stay relevant to the position to which you are applying, you’ll have a solid resume.

A Fluffy Objective

Employers do look at your resume objective, but often, applicants put a fluff statement that has nothing to do with the company or position they are applying for. If you’re going to put an objective at all, then make it as descriptive as possible. List realistically what you want to accomplish at your new position.

Lack of Action

Action words convey that you will work proactively to meet your goals. For example, instead of phrases like “I was responsible for a team of legal staff,” indicate that you “managed a team of legal staff.” Using verbs displays the message that you are ready to take charge and act.

Visual Overload

Unless you are applying for an artistic position at a design company, keep your resume’s design simple and black and white. Space is limited when you’re trying to synopsize your life onto one sheet of paper. Make every inch count.

Out-of-Date Contact Information

What if the many interviewers you had all wanted to hire you, but couldn’t reach you because you included either wrong or out-of-date contact information? It’s one of those important details that you should check, and check again, or you could be missing out on many opportunities.


Ask a Recruiter - Part 1; Why Won't a Recruiter Work With Me?

"I am a new law school graduate, and I contacted a legal recruiter to help me get a job.  Why won't they work with me?"

Don’t take it personally!  Many recruiters want to be able to help new law school graduates; however, clients will only work with recruiters to hire attorneys with at least one year of post law school experience in a law firm setting.  Why?

There are several reasons that firm clients take this position. 

  • First, since clients compensate recruiters for successful placements (no charge to the attorney), they prefer associates who provide some immediate value given that they already have some training and experience (i.e., can provide even a modicum of immediate hands-on assistance). 
  • Second, it is very costly to train and support a young attorney. Therefore,  an associate with some level of proven ability gives the firm a stronger sense of confidence and reasonable anticipation that he/she will remain with the firm for awhile. 
  • Third, many law firms conduct on-campus interviews [OCI] pursuant to hiring new law school graduates.  This method is often an expedient and cost-efficient way to proactively screen and hire new graduates. 

Additionally, few law firms will use the services of recruiters to hire young attorneys with only clerking experience.  Often law firms and law clerks utilize internal connections to facilitate such hires.

It’s important to understand the aforementioned reasons why an attorney recruiter can’t assist you with your job search if you are a new graduate or Bar-admittee.   You’ll need to be very proactive on your own if you weren’t successful during OCI, or if your school does not participate in OCI recruiting.  Learning about the various venues for networking and research, such as your local Public Law Center, can provide valuable experience as well as leads.  Good luck!


Taking up the Gauntlet: How to Answer the Most Common--and Dreaded--Interview Questions

So your resume got your foot in the door.  Take a moment to pat yourself on the back—but only a moment.  You’ve still got that interview to get through. As you rev up for the upcoming meeting that has suddenly become the source of all your tension and nerves, we hope you've done your research on the company and planned your outfit for the day.

Now it’s time to take a look at some of the most dreaded and commonly asked questions—and how to best answer them.


What do you know about our company?

This is possibly one of the easiest interview questions since the beginning of time because there is no wrong answer—except for no answer at all. Conducting research on a company is easier, especially now that we have access to this brilliant thing called the Internet. Unless a company is hiding under a rock (which wouldn’t boast well for its business), it will have a website. Don’t just stop there. Browse the forums, look for articles, and think—you knew it was coming—outside the box. Do your homework so that when the interviewer asks you this question, you already know what services the firm offers, the key strategies and mission statement, commitments, and other information about the firm. When you prove to the potential employer that you’re committed to becoming a part of their company, they might actually make you part of the company. Fathom that.

Why are you leaving your current occupation?

One of the best ways to answer this question is to lock up your inner Negative Nancy and resist the automatic instinct to complain. Sure, your supervisor subjected you to years of menial tasks and busy work. Every position will have its ups and downs. But keep in mind that there’s no such thing as a perfect job—only positive attitudes. Instead, keep a professional outlook, mention how your last job was challenging (and while you’re at it, throw in a line about how you overcame those challenges), and convey that you’re looking for a different challenge, which you hope to find at this new position.

What are your central strengths?  Your weaknesses?

Let’s face it, every interview boils down to bragging about yourself and marketing yourself as the perfect fit for the position. How do you do that in a mere fifteen to sixty minutes? When someone asks you about your strengths, don’t tell them something completely irrelevant, like how you just beat Angry Birds Level 3-5. Be sure to mention keywords that the firm is known for. As for weaknesses, no one is perfect. Don’t say that you don’t have any because that. Is. A. Lie. Instead, be honest about your weaknesses, but also say that you are working hard or have already overcome challenges you’ve faced at your last positions. Instead of saying “I’m a perfectionist,” say “It used to be harder for me to manage my time, but I have since learned the value of prioritizing and making schedules.”

Why are you right for the job?

When an interviewer asks this question, you should hear it as “What can you do for our company?” Reiterate your central strengths and elaborate, not just what you have to offer as a person, but as an employee as well. What is it about you that will ultimately bring these guys success?  Applicable experience is gold, here.  It proves you’ve got the skill to do the job, which is the ultimate goal of the interview. Choose your answer carefully, and always keep in mind that you want to make the interviewer happy. Not the other way around.


Those are just some of the most commonly asked interview questions and how to answer them. We’ll be looking at more in the future, so stay tuned and don’t forget to check back with us for more advice.

Tags: Interview

Ask an Interviewer: What Common Mistakes Should I Avoid?

You might not even be realizing that you’re making them, but there are many mistakes that even the most experienced candidates make during interviews. Some of these common mistakes are so glaringly obvious, and yet many people are guilty of them all the time. Below, we list some of the most common mistakes, how to avoid them, and how to recover if you can’t.

Inappropriate Dressing. Everyone says that what you wear to an interview can make a big impression—and it’s true. Yet, so many men and women wear unprofessional outfits or casual attire to an interview. It doesn’t matter if the business is a startup company or a large corporation. Or even if the interviewer told you to dress casually. Until you have the job, professional appearance is mandatory.

Being Distracted. Cell phones, food, drinks—why anyone thinks these are appropriate during a work interview is beyond us. And yet, people bring their coffees, sodas, and snacks to interviews all the time. Some candidates even text or browse their cell phones, completely ignoring—and thus, disrespecting—the interviewer. Avoid this. If you must fuel up before the meeting, ditch your food and drink before entering the building. Silence your cell phone, and focus all your attention on the interviewer.

Not Paying Attention. And while we're on the subject, interviewers loooove when you are distracted and not paying attention--not. A common pet peeve is when candidates fail to focus on what the interviewer is saying. Their eyes glaze over, they start viewing the scenery. If you're bored during the interview, what makes the potential employer think that you won't be bored at your job? If you really are having a terrible time paying attention, then perhaps you should re-evaluate your work options. If it's some fluke that you tuned out the interviewer, then re-focus and pay attention. 

Fuzzy Work History. Right, so we understand that job descriptions from ten years ago may be a bit difficult to recall. But when you don’t know the details of your own work history, it’s a bit of a red flag for potential employers. Brush up your resume beforehand so you’re not stumped by questions about your own past.

Knowing Nothing about the Company. While you're brushing up your own work history, don't forget to learn about the company as well. One of the easiest questions asked during any interview is, “What do you know about our company?” It’s easy because you could have done your research beforehand. In fact, you’re expected to. With today’s technological opportunities, it’s not difficult to browse the company’s profile online—at the very least. Don’t let the interviewer stump you with history’s easiest question. Do your homework and be prepared.

I’m Late, I’m Late, I’m Late. Arriving late is indicative of your poor time management skills and shows that you don’t care about your interviewer’s time. It ultimately comes down to a lack of respect for the company. Sometimes, you simply can’t help it due to an unforeseeable event, such as a traffic accident. In that case, study the traffic route to the interview location, and leave early.

Too Much Information. Answer the question. It’s simply that easy. Though your future employer is looking for more than the monosyllabic answer, don’t ramble, don’t go on and on about your life and future goals. Answer the question as specifically and directly as possible.

Taking Too Long. In other words, being unprepared. Interview questions are pretty standard and common, and while some interviewers will understand if you don’t know the answer to a question instantly, taking too long can be annoying. Some might let you skip the question, and though we advise against this, if you must, then you must. But it’s always best to prepare and anticipate standard questions before the interview, and know how to answer them. (We’ll be reviewing these common interview queries in a future blog, so stay tuned.)

Nothing but Complaints. It’s obvious that you want to leave your job for a reason. Why else would you be interviewing at a new company? But badmouthing a previous boss is simply bad form. It will reflect on how you might view your potential position at the new company. What if your interviewer turns out to be your future boss? He or she might wonder if you would badmouth them in the same way. Avoid it at all costs, and if your interviewer asks you a question about your former supervisor, answer it directly and professionally.


Keep in Mind: Be Prepared. Throughout all our advice on interviewing and preparing for a job, there is one prominent tip that will always remain. Always do your research and prepare for the interview in the best way you can. Don’t let anyone stump you when you could easily avoid the awkward situation by doing your research. Avoid these common interview pitfalls and you’ll be nailing that next interview.


Ask a Recruiter: How Should I Prepare for an Interview?

Interviewing tips are a dime a dozen, but you might be surprised at how many candidates fail to follow some of the most simple advice. Potential employers are going to begin gauging you the moment you step foot into their building, and you only have about half an hour or so to prove them right or wrong. That's why it's imperative that you conduct the best interview you possibly can.

Here are a few tips from our recruiters on how to nail that interview and land the job.

Dress for the part. Once you land the job and understand the culture of the firm, you will be able to work with more freedom when it comes to fashion. Even if the interviewer mentions that the firm is “casual,” you should consider that it is always best to look too professional than not professional enough. It is a human instinct to judge upon first glance—and while you’ll get the chance to show the interviewer who you are, it is always best to set a positive foundation. Keep your appearance conservative and polished.

Know who you’re working for. Always research the company and position before you interview. It doesn’t speak well for you if you don’t know much about the company you supposedly want to work for. Today’s technology provides easy ways to research—open a tab in your browser and do a quick query on your next dream job. Don’t just stop at the company website. You might be surprised at how much more information you’ll find when you look through articles, comments, forums, and discussions about the company.

Prepare your own questions. Have you ever been in that position when the interviewer will ask you if you have any questions…and you actually…don’t? We’ve all been there—and it’s awkward. While some natural questions can develop during the interview, it is always best to prepare your own beforehand. During your research on the company, think of several things that you can ask the interviewer. It will make you seem even more enthusiastic and interested in working for them.

Anticipate standard, open questions. The dreaded standards queries of interviews—you know the ones we’re talking about. “Tell us about yourself.” “Where do you see yourself in ten years?” You won’t be able to avoid them. The best way to answer these is to stay on topic. Focus on your career goals and try to answer the question with the position description in mind.

Know your strengths and weaknesses. It is important to stay confident and know what you’re good at and what you’re not. The trick is to not come off over-confident, pompous or unbelievable. Rather, stay true to yourself, and understand that you also have weaknesses. During the interview, use those weaknesses to your advantage by explaining how you’ve overcome some challenges and used your insecurities to better yourself as a professional.

Stay enthusiastic. You’d be surprised at how bored many applicants appear during interviews. Yes, employers know you want the job. You wouldn’t have applied otherwise. But there are also at least a dozen other candidates who want the job just as much as you do, maybe even more. When you show enthusiasm and passion for a position, it shows that you are truly interested, and it will reflect on your attitude toward the position if they do choose to hire you.

Last of all, don’t forget to relax. Before an interview, take a deep breath and keep calm. It’s important to be prepared and do your best during an interview, but don’t stress about it so much that you are unable to prove your credibility to your interviewer. Your dreams aren’t going anywhere, so there’s no need to rush. You’ll reach them one day, as long as you keep working hard to make them come true.