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Ten Steps to an Outstanding LinkedIn Profile

My esteemed colleague, Anabella Bonfa, is a knowledgeable and experienced attorney who writes and lectures on how to enhance your LinkedIn profile to maximize this marketing tool.  I have personally observed how Anabella works tirelessly to  help young lawyers achieve their "personal best".  She has a passion for assisting others, and with jumpstarting how to project themselves in the business world.  Can't help but to share this with you...

Special Note:
“This material is reproduced from the CEBblog™ entry, 10 Steps to an Outstanding LinkedIn Profile, (http://blog.ceb.com/2015/01/30/10-steps-to-an-outstanding-linkedin-profile/) copyright 2015 by the Regents of the University of California.  Reproduced with permission of Continuing Education of the Bar - California.  (For information about CEB publications, telephone toll free 1-800-CEB-3444 or visit our Web site, CEB.com).”

LinkedIn is an excellent marketing tool for lawyers. Here’s how to make your LinkedIn profile—your first impression there—as effective as it can be.

  1. Get a professional photo. Your photo is the first thing people see about you on LinkedIn—it will be seen every time you comment, make a recommendation, or write an update. Use a photo of your chest up that clearly shows your face. Dress professionally, as you would appear in court, and smile. Definitely don’t edit a wedding photo or have a distracting background.
  2. Use the “Professional Headline” to your advantage. Under your name, you can add a professional headline. Rather than a generic title, such as “Attorney,” use this section to your advantage by stating your practice area (e.g., “Family Law Attorney”). Let potential clients and professional connections immediately know your area of expertise.
  3. Complete the “Summary” background section. This is the most important part of your profile. You have about 10 seconds to capture the viewer’s attention and let them know who you are. Your summary section should state who your clients are and what you do for them. Make sure to describe the types of cases you handle in a way that nonlawyers can understand. A list of your specialties is also helpful. The summary is an excellent place to discuss past non-legal work that contributes to your law practice.
  4. Upload photos or videos. Below the summary section, add photos to make your profile visually interesting and make you more approachable. For example, include photos of you posing with clients, giving a professional presentation, or doing community service work. You can also add video from your website, interviews, etc.
  5. Request recommendations. Recommendations are the heart of your LinkedIn profile. Ask your past employers or clients for a personal recommendation discussing the quality of your work and service. Let past clients know that you don’t expect them to share their legal issue, just their thoughts on the level of service you provided. Remember to return the favor and recommend others who you hold in high esteem. Note that “recommendations” differ from “endorsements.” If you choose to have your skills listed and have people “endorse you,” keep the list of skills short and don’t accept endorsements from anyone you don’t know or for skills you didn’t list yourself.
  6. Invite people to connect. The quality of your contacts is far more important than the quantity. View others’ profiles and link with those with whom you intend to work in the future or who already know the quality of your past work. Personalize your invitation: “Hello: This is John Smith. We met at last night’s fundraiser. I would like you to join my LinkedIn network.” If you already know someone in common, this would be an ideal place to mention your shared connection.
  7. Complete the “Publications” section. List all articles and books you have written, as well as oral presentations you have made before professional groups.
  8. Complete the “Volunteer & Causes” section. This little-used section allows you to share the community service projects and non-profit activities in which you and your firm are involved. People enjoy working with attorneys who share their own personal causes.
  9. Join groups. There are many LinkedIn groups specifically geared toward attorneys and law practice, e.g., groups for law schools, bar associations, practice areas, legal marketing, etc. Find groups of interest and join the conversation there. Showing the groups you have joined on your profile helps others see your interests and leads to new connections.
  10. Write an update. Once you have a strong profile set up, you’re ready to start posting updates—and your interesting updates will likely bring people back to view your profile. Share updates about your law practice, changes in the law, and information of interest to your colleagues and clients. You can link to a blog post or article by inserting its URL in the update box. If you don’t have time to write a regular blog, this is an excellent way to provide relevant and insightful opinions on legal issues.

Although it’s tempting, don’t use your profile to directly ask for work. Not only might this run afoul of professional responsibility rules, it makes you sound desperate. Newer attorneys should focus on the skills they have to offer based on past work experience. For example, focus on why you excel at dealing with clients, problem solving, working in a stressful environment, and managing deadlines.

Put your best self forward in your LinkedIn profile and reap the professional benefits!
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Anabella Q. Bonfa. Ms. Bonfa is a litigator with Wellman & Warren LLP, handling business and partnership disputes, theft of trade secrets, and unfair competition. She lectures extensively on trade secrets, networking, and using social media to develop business.


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

 


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.


Top 10 Reasons to Work with a Recruiter

There are very good reasons to work with an attorney recruiter when searching for attorney jobs in CA or when law firms have positions to fill.  Here are the top ten reasons an attorney recruiter in CA can help match the right candidate with the right job.

  1. A legal recruiter works with a select group of candidates.  Part of the screening process is already done by the time a recruiter submits a resume to a law firm.  This prevents the law firm from spending unnecessary time reviewing unsuitable candidates and avoids the problem of candidates applying for inappropriate law jobs in CA.
  2. Recruiters have networks.  Recruiters know the senior-level partners at law firms and have already established a relationship with them.  This works in both the candidate’s favor and that of the law firm seeking to fill an important position.
  3. A recruiter’s success depends on yours.  A recruiter only gets paid if a candidate is hired.  Therefore, the recruiter’s goals are the same as the law firm’s:  to find the right candidate for the job.
  4. Recruiters do more than cheerlead.  Recruiters also provide career guidance, information on law firm history and particular job criteria, resume analysis and interview tips.
  5. A legal recruiter specializes in the legal industry.  A legal recruiter focuses only on legal jobs.  Therefore, a legal recruiter is intimately connected with all the workings of both law firms in general and particular organizations.
  6. Recruiters provide interview assistance.  Recruiters have dealt with particular law firms and may know questions that are likely to be asked in the interview process as well as information on the firm itself.
  7. Recruiters have access to unpublished job openings.  Legal recruiters are often the first to hear about potential job openings and may be the only source of information on some jobs.  Law firms may choose not to publish their job openings on the Internet or in other sources and may rely solely on the services of a recruiter to fill various jobs.
  8. Recruiters know staff as well as attorneys.  A good legal recruiter has formed relationships with members of a law firm at every level.  Sometimes the staff has great influence on hiring decisions.
  9. A good recruiter can provide insights.  Legal recruiters study trends in the legal field and can provide an overall view of the hiring prospects in a given location or particular legal field.
  10. Recruiters take confidentiality seriously.  A good recruiter keeps your resume and job-seeking information private.  In today’s technologically-advanced world, this is difficult to do when you use various social media or other venues to look for jobs.

A legal recruiter can be a wonderful benefit in your legal job search.  Rifkin Consulting has many years of experience helping legal candidates look for jobs and helping law firms connect with the right candidates for their various positions.  With the help of Rifkin Consulting, quality attorneys can come together with the right law firms to benefit both.


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. 


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.



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. 


Revamp Your Resume to Land the Job

According to the Huffington Post, the average recruiter will look at your resume for all of six seconds before deciding whether or not you’re right for the team. And while the legal recruiters at Rifkin Consulting guarantee that we spend much more time than that on our candidates, we can’t speak for potential employers who are judging you from the look of your resume. Essentially, you are trying to condense your life experiences and qualifications onto one sheet of paper—if you’re lucky, maybe two. We understand that it can be difficult, but not impossible.

This year, instead of making resolutions you know you’ll never keep, resolve to make a better impact and get the job you want. After all, your resume is the first impression you'll have on the law firm, so why not make it the best one? Here are some tips on assuring that your resume is the one that stands out.

Highlight relevant experience

The brutal truth: an employer will skip your fluff and cut to the meat of the matter. They want to get down to business and see if you can do the job that they need you to do. If the answer is buried between irrelevant job experience at Burger King and Starbucks, chances are you’re going to go to the bottom of the pile. (In fact, if you’re still including Burger King and Starbucks in your resume, we think it best that you rethink your options.) Use bullets and bold font to instantly show the employer that you meet their qualifications. Make your resume as easily and quickly to digest as possible. But make sure the employer likes what he tastes.

Quantify experience

When speaking about your abilities, it’s important to cite situations that prove them.  Relevant experience will speak for itself, so include them in your resume.  Don’t be afraid to brag, but don’t go over the top. Quantify your experience and be specific about the challenges you’ve overcome. For example, if you’ve had trial experience or won cases, list them. Be detailed and get to the point.

Education vs. Experience

A resume is like real estate. Higher value properties should be located at the top of a listing. Similarly, your more applicable experiences should be listed first on your resume. Experience takes precedence over education, but if you’re still only starting out and don’t have much experience of which to boast, place education at the top. Otherwise, what’s more important and relevant to the position should have higher priority.

Limit to one page

No matter your qualifications, a prospective employer wants an easily digestible synopsis on your work history and experience.  For this reason, it’s standard to limit resumes to just one page.  If you happen to be particularly accomplished, don’t get too granular about the details. Stick to the basics to allow room for other accomplishments.  Another option is to include a second page of Representative Matters or Representative Clients.

Keep it professional

Unless you are applying for a position at a marketing agency or a design company, it is always best to keep your resume simple in terms of style. Recruiters and employers read dozens of resumes every day. The bottom line is they want something basic and straightforward, something that will tell them in a matter of seconds whether or not you are a good fit. No one wants to waste hours on someone unqualified. There’s no need for crazy colors and busy designs. Black and white does the trick just fine when your experience speaks for itself.

Personal Information

Too often, the personal section of a resume will include random, irrelevant information.  In a cheap trick to make themselves stand out, candidates include personal information, hobbies, and interests—and why they think the interviewer would care is beyond us. If you want to impress the firm, there’s no need to include irrelevant information about your personal life. Your work history and abilities should say it all.


It's always best to keep your resume fresh and up to date. As you start out the new year, give your professional profile a makeover to ensure that you'll get the job you want. Keep these tips in mind when you're revamping your resume, and you'll get that interview in no time.

Tags: Preparing

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.